We first met Mark Mann when he offered to take portraits of the ONA team at Art Basel Miami; he was so approachable and hilarious that we were blown away when we realized that he’s taken portraits of just about every celebrity and the PRESIDENT. Mark’s an incredibly talented photographer with an impressive portfolio, but his charm lies in his lilting Scottish accent, his irrepressible good humor and his ability to make every subject feel like they’re the only person in the room.
Mark Mann carries the Leather Brixton Messenger Bag in Antique Cognac.
ONA: How did you get into photography/videography?
MM: The short answer is that I was intrigued by a girl on a train. She happened to be studying photography at Manchester Polytechnic, and that seemed like a good idea! So I asked my art teacher in high school to show me the school darkroom, and it was love at first print. There was a certain magic to watching images develop in the tray. My early attempts were just objects on the enlarger with paper underneath, very “Man Ray.” I then of course applied to Manchester to follow the girl and study photography; no romantic interlude can be reported but I did learn to take photos.
ONA: What camera do you shoot with? What is your “go to” lens of choice?
MM: Horses for courses: the go-to commercial workhorse is the Leica S-System, with that 120mm macro. For my personal work, I love the Leica M and on special occasions my beloved Graflex RB from 1940. And, of course, my iPhone!
ONA: What sort of project drives your creativity? Follow Up: What is your dream project?
MM: I was extremely fortunate to shoot my dream project for Esquire magazine last year. 80 portraits of 80 men, ages 1 through 80–including a portrait of the President in the White House. I feel a bit like an astronaut now; I’m not sure how I’ll ever match that.
ONA: What is the hardest thing about being a photographer/videographer?
MM: The hardest thing about being a photographer these days is being paid your worth. There’s so much is available and our culture demands that quality for free. Carving a niche where you’re actually paid can be tricky.
ONA: Describe your style of shooting.
MM: I try not to overshoot. Shoot slowly, think, make decisions, push for the photo you want. Don’t just take what’s given.
ONA: In one sentence, what advice would you give to a photographer/videographer just starting out?
MM: Shoot to what you have access to, what you can get close to. Listen to your clients: remember they’re paying your bills.
MM: I first saw ONA bags at Art Basel Miami; again, it was love at first sight…
Note: photos of Mark were taken by Andrew Ryan Shepherd.