Personal: Mark Charles Fox

PersonalPhotography has often had an identity problem. Over its nearly 200 years, it has won sometimes grudging and other times enthusiastic cultural acceptance. Today, everyone is a photographer. In my view, what I am is an image manipulator.

Image manipulating is a daily yoga, I do it for the intrinsically meditative state it induces. In college, oops too late, at the end of my thesis preparation I realized what I should have been doing all along, studying iconography, how we might share wonder and convey the ineffable. This is part of my motivation and a hoped-for result of these externalized meditations.

During the past decade or more, I’ve engaged in image manipulating in a dedicated way and have created thousands of them. Each one starts with a photo I have taken and I’ll begin to imagine transforming its shapes and colors. There are just a few rules; for instance, never cut and paste, nor combine source images into one, work with one at a time. My preferences extend to the most spaced-out looking images, but I also do ones that might be called “contemporarily traditional”.

Earlier on, it was all about experimentation, working an image until the “Aha!” reaction. Over time, I’ve centered on a relatively small number of functions for which I can anticipate what applying them can do, and then progress from there, often with color experimentation since shapes come first. The tools are PhotoShop (but only Elements, the baby version, and only version 8), Smart Photo Editor (sparingly) and easyHDR (even less often), occasionally all three on an image.

Image fixation is a pleasant addiction. Looking back, I was always up for a gallery or museum with my mother from the earliest age. I can’t fix a broken car. We traveled extensively and my father did architecting and engineering and had blueprints at our home in Turkey. Several times, I looked at his work and made drawings based on his designs, then got some colored pencils or oils, squeezed straight from the tubes, and made them look spaced out. Some things never change.

By day, I have had a consulting practice for over 22 years, focusing on behavioral health and the psychosocial drivers of care-seeking/avoiding habits, almost all of it in the Medicaid arena. I am also the president of a non-profit that seeks to reduce violence in the community – http://www.msiproject.org.

I hope that you enjoy the images I have sampled here; perhaps one or two might take you someplace.