Archive for May, 2016


©2016 Mark Berndt | All Rights Reserved

For some, the earliest childhood memories are from when they were only months old, just a sound or the sky or the safety of arms. Others remember events from an age when experts say they shouldn’t be able to remember anything at all.

My memory’s not as good as that, but one of my early memories – I was maybe 3 or so – is in my head as a photograph. It’s a B&W picture of my front yard – of me and my brother and our next-door neighbor Patty – or at least I think I’m in it. Or maybe my Dad was in it and I was not. But even if I am in it, I remember the photograph as being from my point-of-view, 3-year-old high, as if I pressed the shutter.

So with that simple scene as my early memory, and now a lifetime of making images, I guess I can say pretty confidently that I am, maybe always have been, a photographer. But I’m pretty sure I’m not an artist. I mean, I didn’t study art, don’t have any art degrees, I can’t read or speak artspeak without just messing it all up, I don’t even know anyone named Art. I colored inside the lines, preferred staying clean, excelled in math, side-stepped drugs. I’m not in collections or shown in museums, I infrequently exhibit and even more rarely sell. And my ‘fine art coffee table book’… well let’s just thank the lord for ‘print on demand’.

Art is everywhere. Everyone I know is an Artist. The Art World is full of artists, but also people and companies and organizations and schools and foundations and websites and blogs and non-profits who support artists, many by offering training programs for artists to be better artists, more successful artists, and providing artists with exhibitions and competitions and fundraisers and galas where artists have an opportunity to pay to submit their art, or even donate their art, in support of these institutions that support the arts. Artists pay to be reviewed and juried and curated and written about and matriculated in classrooms and contests and festivals and workshops and seminars. Artists attend the art openings of their fellow artists too – but it’s rare that art is actually purchased by artists. And when it is, artists give artists an artist’s discount because they know how hard it is to make enough money as an artist to be able to actually own another artist’s art.

I wonder, at the end of the day, if the art world isn’t just a big art installation, a performance piece in defense of a masters thesis launched centuries ago in a cave by a guy with a charred stick and a radical idea, whose final exam became our reality. And if we could follow the path (is it the artist’s way?) it would lead to the cloaked mouth of that cave where the artspeak still bellows forth, and we’re warned by the guard to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain in the leopard pants with green hair and a walking stick wearing love beads and a fur wrap – that powerful wizard named – Art.

* Oh, and please don’t forget about my workshop this weekend!


©2016 Mark Berndt | All Rights Reserved


©22010 Mark Berndt | All Rights Reserved

Revisiting old digital files, old hard drives of images, previous versions of RAW processing, is just the same as looking through old contact sheets. And the same rules of relative image importance apply. When you edit and select and finish the images that are meaningful at the time of the shoot, they reflect a current, specific, and valid state-of-mind. But later review can reveal a shift in that state-of-mind, where age, experience, and situation sees importance in different images. Later they are meaningful in new and, let’s say, more profound ways.

I found the image above in the ‘selects’ from a shoot in 2010 (but not in the ‘final files’) – from a visit Pilar and I made to her Mom’s house in Embudo (my first time there – and early in our relationship), wandering, photographing, talking, exploring, relaxing, experiencing, connecting – and although I obviously experienced this blue-glow of dusk and found it compelled me to make this photograph, I finished other images from that trip that held significance I understood at the time.

Having re-discovering and posted this image yesterday, I started work on a poem at breakfast this morning at my most inspiring coffeehouse/restaurant – Room 39. The picture prompted the recollection and poem, not the memory itself. And in that I find the value of photography.

I Visit This Image That’s Six Years Old

I visit this image that’s 6 years old
to remember the day that I first said my hello
to the high desert dusk
and savored the piñon
and feasted on morsels of lingering sun
spun in the teardrops of the Indian ricegrass
a reverse silhouette against a mountain, and sky

that night – no orange ball
no fiery star extinguished on exit
but a soft slate blue gauze
tipped with cool greens and shadow
to quiet my eye
at the onset of night
more than a mile high

like a desert dessert
this last flavor
as we slipped
wrapped in silence
to sleep.

©2016 Mark Berndt | All Rights Reserved
©2016 Mark Berndt | All Rights Reserved


©1993 Mark Berndt | All Rights Reserved

I remember stopping by Deb’s house on Stanley in the late afternoon, sometime in the early 90’s. She wasn’t home, but I made 2 photographs from outside as the sun did that warm hard cut straight into the front of her house while I waited for her to answer the bell.

The house was quiet. I don’t even remember the dogs barking, so they were probably riding around with her in that big black Mercedes, and the house seemed both vulnerable and welcoming to a photographic predator like myself.

I saw this scene through a side window of the breakfast room by the front door, and I loved what the light did to the flowers. I know the camera was the M6, the film was Kodachrome, and although I usually had the 35mm Summicron on it, this looks a bit more like the 50, wide open, what with the flowers left intentionally soft and the focus thrown to that photograph of her in the shadows of the far corner cabinet.

This is magical LA light. I’d know it without the red/yellow boost from K64 1/2-stop under, the ubiquitous ’40’s-era louvered glass windows, and even without her impeccable style.


©2016 Mark Berndt | All Rights Reserved