Mark Drew is a self taught fashion and portrait photographer. Born in Los Angeles, raised in New Jersey, his love for imagery emerged at a young age, dressing his younger brothers and taking pictures of them.
After various ups and downs in his life, his passion for photography has remained, giving him perspective and a place to focus his creativity.
With a vast portfolio of both male and female subjects, Mark has persistently lived and worked to his own mantra: “Our life’s journey includes thoughts of constant curiosity, fashion photography allows me to to surprise the subconscious and keep the curiosity alive.”
Daniel: Tell us about yourself, where did all of this begin for you?
Mark: I was born in LA, my mum needed the assistants of family to help raise a knucklehead like me, so she moved to New Jersey to be closer to family. Photography was a passing thought for me as a child…Initially I wanted to be a Fine Art Painter or Fashion Illustrator.
After schooling my plan was to move back to LA, become a gigolo, save money and start my own art gallery! Then one day my uncle loaned me his old Fujica 35mm camera. I started dressing my younger brothers and taking pictures of them. I fell in love with it!
Years later and many mistakes later, I ended up homeless. I was sleeping on a table in my friends shop after hours…I used this time to search within myself. Photography found me again. Today, I am certainly far from homeless…But never far from my passion of photography.
Daniel: Describe to us your first real shoot that you can remember; where you were, what you were doing and who you were doing it with.
Mark: Many shoots come to mind but one in particular was a shoot my team and I did at The Pelican Hotel in Miami.
The inspiration was based on a story of a young vixen who robs a bank with her cowboy lover, they go back to the Hotel to celebrate. After the love making, the vixen ties the cowboy stud to the bed post, and makes off with the loot, leaving him broken hearted and broke.
The people who made it all happen: makeup artist Edward Cruz, stylist Jessica Bosch, models J, and Frederick V.
Frederick and the others are kick ass to work with. Frederick is very talented & has been in Italian Vogue and featured in Nelly Furtado videos. Edward Cruz from New York, is one of the best makeup artist I have ever worked with. I am always most grateful for the great team I work with in New York and Miami.
Daniel: What has been your most rewarding achievement as an artist?
Mark: I think its most rewarding when a person can share a gift with others. For me, its NEVER about me. Ever! Its about something I can share & give. To give a moment of beauty or emotion, good or bad. To make people feel “something.” To feel something lets you know your f****** alive!
Daniel: When you first started, what was your biggest dream? And have you accomplished that?
Mark: One of my biggest dreams is to show others that their dreams are possible.There are always people who try to tell you that you can’t do something because they do not believe in themselves…Protect your dreams and believe in yourself. Put your wings on and show them what you are made of. If I can accomplish giving just one person hope in realizing their strength, then hell YES! I have accomplished that but there is always work to be done and that is why I get out of bed in the morning.
Daniel: Who’s your favorite photographer and who do you draw your inspirations from?
Mark: I don’t have one fave favorite photographer. I draw inspiration from music, movies, sculpture, paintings. I love it all! It changes from day to day. But if I have to name names: I love Jeanloup Sieff, Michel Comte, Sante D’Orasio and many others of that genre.
Daniel: What has been your favorite shoot so far?
Mark: One of my favorite shoots was actually a video collaboration we did in Brooklyn. I was able to bring together Paul Monaghan (model & modern ballet dancer) and a subway street performer, Charles Tamarin. Its supposedly being written about in the New York Times this Fall…We will see.
Daniel: In your own opinion what are are the tools that a photographer cannot live without?
Mark: A photographer cannot leave without inspiration! It all starts from there, right? From inside. A vision, a spark, whatever you want to call it. Then second is light. Madonna once said…”without light, we would all be the same” Then you need something to capture it with. If your shooting fashion, you need a wonderful team of hair, makeup and styling. A great art director never hurts. And yes of course a wonderful model. (he or she doesn’t have to be beautiful someone “interesting” is better to me).
Before all of my shoots I tell the model. I am doing this for you. I want to give you something special, inspire me and I will give you my best.
Daniel: Has photography always been a part of your life – Is it something you’ve always planned to do as a career?
Mark: Not really but it was in my heart. I wanted anything in the arts in my career. I believe when you are creative, it puts you closer to your spirit of BEING. Something not tangible but definitely very real.
Daniel: When did you know you finally made it as a professional photographer?
Mark: What does it mean to make it? Let me know when I am there.
Daniel: You’re signed with photo agency Factory311, did you discover them or did they discover you!?
Mark: Factory311 approached me and I am honored.
Daniel: What are the major factors/most important things about having an agency?
Mark: You mean, besides being surrounded by a great team who push you to be your best?! I don’t think it gets better than that…
Daniel: What are your feelings in regards to syndication of images, specifically beauty and fashion editorials?
Mark: At first I was a little hesitant. You known, its my life & love. I had a lot of questions. But after speaking with the team at Factory311, my mind is much more at ease. I know its their life and love too and that goes a long way.
Daniel: You’re signed with FACTORY311’s Image Licensing Agency. How do you think that this will help you and the agency grow?
Mark: Well, you know…There are often times as artist when we doubt our abilities, we doubt our direction. And when someone comes along and says, I dig what you are doing and I am willing to promote your work it makes your grow because someone believes in you and is willing to put money & time behind you. That’s a wonderful compliment. How could you not grow? If you set out on a mission to cross the ocean and your partner said “Im on board” you know its because they believe you can bring them home. And when you return, you will have great stories to tell your grand kids!
Daniel: What is life like as a photographer in 2010? How has your career adapted to meet the changes needed? What’s on the horizon for you?
Mark: Its f****** grand to be a photographer in 2011. Its a grand time to be alive and create. A friend of mine from the Netherlands sent me an email today…She reminded me ” always keep the big picture in site.” And I would say…”keeping the big picture in sight” is on my horizon.