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Two years ago I participated in a project run by my friends at the Photo Frontier.  As it was in 2015, We35 involves a group of photographers from around the world, all agreeing to spend a meaningful part of our time shooting with a fixed 35mm equivalent lens throughout the year to see  how that affects our creativity and our vision. Anyone can join.  You can participate loosely by just spending a good part of the year limiting yourself to a 35mm (or equivalent) lens, or you can go further and also follow the monthly assignments, or “Expeditions.”

The Photo Frontier, who created and runs the project, has three goals for WE35.

  • As creatives, we will expand our own creative vision and help others with theirs.
  • As photographers, we will provide a democratized visual survey of this incredible world.
  • As a team, we will forge lifelong friendships and build a strong community around the world.The kind of community that you can count on when you visit and have a friend to photograph with or grab a coffee.

And here are the rules/guidelines:

  • Images must be made using a 35mm lens or 35mm FOV equivalent.*
  • Use the official hashtag ( #WE35) to share your research.
  • If you want to to link to your research, share it on our Facebook Page
  • Not a requirement, but you will get bonus points if you conduct your research wearing a lab coat.

The first assignment for WE35 in January 2015 was to shoot your mailbox. In 2017, it is the same.  That’s all: just try to find a way to put a bit of yourself in the photo somehow

Justin and Armando at The Photo Frontier also created a podcast, which will be where they will be announcing each monthly assignment. It’s called Conversations From The Photo Frontier. Each one will be a 10-15-minute episodes talking about creativity and the newest assignment for We35.  Please feel free to participate. Anyone can join in on the fun, without any special training or photographic knowledge.

Conversations from the Photo Frontier

* If you are unsure what that means, here are some guidelines. If your camera is “full frame,” then you need a 35mm lens. If your camera has what is often called a crop sensor, then a 23mm lens is the closest equivalent.  If you have a “micro 4/3 camera,” probably made by Olympus, then a 17mm lens will do.  If you are unsure, you probably have a crop sensor. If you are still unclear, head over to the Photo Frontier FB page and ask them a question.

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I have no idea what that little building is on Wilson Avenue in Bushwick.  I spent part of a recent Sunday morning shooting in that neighborhood, and hope to return soon.   It is an interesting place: historically German when much of it was built, it has gone through various waves of working class immigrants from different areas. Currently it is largely Hispanic, mostly from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, although other Latino groups are growing. But there is also now a growing population of hipsters and artists moving in, as increasing rents send them further and further from downtown Manhattan.

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2016 was the year in which my rate of photo posting dropped off a cliff.  Part of this was due to me shooting less, which is its own story, and in large part due to some changed family schedule basics that got in the way of my favorite shooting time. But I also often just found it hard to make myself post. Even with the lower rate of shooting, I had enough good photos to post a fair bit more than I did. In fact, as I chose my favorites for the year I found myself surprised that 2 or 3 shots I remember being rather fond of never were posted. I could go on, but prefer not to dwell on the negative.

On the plus side, with only about 5 dozen or so shots to pick from, I was pleased that there was a decent amount of images I was proud of. It also was easier to select the best, and I did not have any difficulty cutting the list down to a respectable and manageable number. In the end, 7 shots stood out as my favorites.

Hello? – New Friends – #ExpeditionSpud 

Last January a story made the rounds that a photographer sold an image of a potato for more than $1 million. Some friends and I had fun inventing our own potato shots, some serious and others playful. Everything here: the primary elements, lighting, and background came out exactly as I envisioned it.

Fourth Avenue Ghosts

I experimented early last year on a new potential project, creating black and white semi-long exposure panoramic urban shots on film.  The results, unlike the potato shot above, were not quite what I hoped but the experiment still had some useful results.  This was my favorite.

Some Way Out/The Color Mill

In the Spring I had an opportunity to take part in a light painting outing in the mills of Lawrence, Massachusetts run by some friends.  First I had access in the afternoon to shoot using available light; then in the evening we used colored flashlights to “paint” the scenes for long-exposure images.  The first image here is perhaps my favorite image of the year. The light painted image below is the best of those I published. This was an instance where I never got around to posting at least a couple of my favorites.

Schwabacher Landing Blues

In June I went on my annual nXnw trip with photographer friends from around the country. This year’s location was Grand Teton National Park (GTNP). It was a fantastic rip with glorious views that took my breath away, yet I found myself oddly unmoved by most of my images. I cold nt guess why, but this is an exception.


In the early fall I went to shoot a particular piece at the Socrates Sculpture in Astoria, Queens.  Again, for some reason, I never posted anthing from it, but I did post this image of the wall of a truck and equipment sales and rental business nearby.

Grand Tetons Panorama

Grand Tetons Panorama

This is a panorama of the Grand Tetons taken from the rear viewing area of Jackson Lake Lodge. It is by far the image that moves me the most from that trip. Panoramas like this do not display well on computers, but you can at least see it a bit larger and in full resolution if you click through the link.

My best wishes to each and every one of you for 2017.

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  • Jim DenhamJanuary 1, 2017 - 11:29 am

    Small, but quite potent group of photos Mark! Love the idea of the urban long exposure film shots! The window light shot at the mill is quite nice! Good year my friend!ReplyCancel

  • Mike CriswellJanuary 15, 2017 - 10:14 am

    Great set Mark, love those Mill shots and the Teton panoReplyCancel

I was certain I already posted this image, but multiple searches for it indicate it has not appeared here yet.  The taxidermist opened up about 2-3 years ago and this photo is about 2 years old. True confession: when I decided to stop and shoot, and even when I composed, I had my eye solely on the taxidermist, and paid no mind to its relationship to its  next door neighbor until just now.

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  • Mike CriswellDecember 27, 2016 - 8:42 am

    Sweet shot Mark, love when you find a nice surprise like that. Happy Holidays to you and your family.ReplyCancel

On Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village, Queens. It’s more of a catering hall and event space than a dance club as far as I know.  It’s been in business since I moved in to the neighborhood almost 20 years ago, although it might have changed names or ownership. I’m not really sure.  It’s really  rather nondescript venue from the outside and I never paid it no attention until one day I walked by with my Contax T3 and black and white film.  


It is hard to describe exactly how or why, but this is clearly an instance where — in my opinion — the simple photograph seems to evoke a quite different energy than the place itself.

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