Mark Conti is a photographer of forests and figures, of portraits and the poetry of the human figure, of cityscapes and landscapes, working to capture images that connect his inner vision with the observed world.
Born and raised in the Philadelphia region, Conti studied at Juniata College, receiving a degree in photography and English literature. Continuing his studies throughout his career, Mark’s education included photography workshops at several noted institutions including Apeiron, Peters Valley and the Art Kane/Cape May Photographic Workshops, studying with such diverse photographers as Ralph Gibson, Art Kane, Linda Connor, George Tice, Larry Fink, Tom Carabasi and Antonin Kratochvil. From there, Conti went on to teach photography workshops at Juniata College and The Cape May Photographic Workshops.
Mark Conti has been making fine art photographs crossing a wide range of subjects for over 30 years. From his early years at Juniata with a gallery show and valuable experience photo-editing the college yearbook to pursuing freelance commercial work and commission portraiture throughout his career, Conti has been on a storied photographic journey in both black and white, and color.
Working in traditional black and white in the full range of camera formats up to 8 x 10 inches, Conti has also produced work using non-silver processes such as gum bichromate and cyanotypes. Currently focused on digital imaging, he produces his own prints, as he believes strongly that this is a critical element of the overall vision of the artist.
A core focus of Conti’s work in his early years centered on perplexing images that presented fragmentary views of the landscape and man-made objects. This work mirrors the disorienting aspects of life and culture in the late 20th century and the “macro” landscapes and abstract images challenge viewers to react to a fragmented view of the world and compare it to their own experience.
Conti’s photography expanded to include the human figure in the landscape. These photographs combine the earlier fragmentary view of the landscape with the human form. Executed with conventional materials and special techniques using infrared film, his figure work contrasts strong landscape elements with the body, setting the figure in sharp relief from the environment – suggesting isolation while focusing attention on the body’s relationship to the land.
Mark Conti’s most recent work is focused on abstraction where form and color speak in less direct but no less powerful ways to the viewer. This latest work, while born of the photographic process, shares much in common with painting and printmaking.
STATEMENT OF WORK:
My photography from the early 1970’s through the mid 2000’s was produced using traditional black and white film, with all developing and printing done personally in a traditional darkroom. This experience informed my current use of digital imaging technologies, as I bring traditional techniques to the digital exposure and printing processes, relating directly to older mediums and materials. My belief is that the technical aspect of photography is one of the primary components of the overall vision of the artist. Personally controlling the process enhances my vision by providing feedback to the concept stage of the work and by serving as a means of closure to the working method.
I am concerned with and focused on the forms and content before me. Unlike mediums such as painting, where composition grows stroke by stroke in an additive way, photography is an organizational activity driven by the selection process. As there are no images without light, I react to illumination as a primary definer of form. My goal is to organize these forms and gather light in a way that allows the final image to become its own reality and, as much as possible, serve as its own source of light.
Subject wise, my work is varied, and I am equally drawn to natural and man-made subjects, often finding recurring forms in disparate images.
These shared forms in various images suggest series-based imagery that grows from common connections that come to inform one another and are often an unexpected discovery on my part. The art, then, is ahead of the artist, enlightening and contributing to further to growth.
Selection and organization in the camera and subsequent interpretation by the materials creates images that I hope invites the viewer to reexamine what is before them as if seeing it for the first time, every time.
~ Mark S. Conti