Elizabeth Lundblad of the New Castle Courier Times interviews author Mark Sean Orr about his
new collaborative book of photography titled "21st Century Photography Vol. 2" - "Embracing
Life".November 27, 2010


    Elizabeth:  What was the inspiration for "Embracing Life"? Is the title the main theme, and did it help
    you focus what type of pictures you selected?

    Mark: I chose the theme of "embracing life" because I wanted to show photographs depicting how
    people across the U.S. and the world view their lives. I wanted to know what was important and
    inspirational in their daily lives...what kinds of things were the most important to them. I chose some
    of the photos for the book, the ones I really loved, but for the most part I let each photographer
    choose their own selections. I like being surprised when I receive the photo submissions....and I was
    that and more with this second volume of 21st Century Photography.

    Elizabeth:  What is your method for selecting and editing a book on photography? Are there certain
    challenges to editing photography over another artistic medium, like short stories or poetry?

    Mark: With this series of books, I started with a small group of friends I met online who were really
    great photographers. The first volume included 22 photographers and this second volume has 30. I
    wanted to showcase their work with my own and create a book that we could all be proud of and
    hopefully get each photographer some recognition. We now have a group of photographers on
    Facebook (started by friend and fellow photographer AyJay Schibig) that has a membership of over
    3,000 photographers. Editing the books is mostly a labor of love. The only part that can be difficult
    is getting 30 people together...sending in their submissions and biographies for the books and
    creating a layout for their art that they are happy with. This is a great group of people though and
    even though we all have different schedules and even different time zones...it has worked out really
    well. I think editing a book of short stories or poetry would be a bit easier, at least when it comes to
    layout.  

    Elizabeth:  What do you think makes a "good picture"? How would you describe one? Does a good
    photograph tell a story, or does it seek to bring up certain emotions, or does it give a call to action,
    etc.?

    Mark: For me..a good picture includes any or all of the above. It tells a story, stirs emotions or
    incites a call to action. A good photo often makes us smile or cry or feel nostalgic. I think the
    photographer should know the technical aspects of his camera and how to effectively edit the  
    photo, but that's not the most important part of what makes a good photo. A good photograph
    makes you look in the scene rather than "at it". It makes you want to look at the photo again and
    again. One of my favorite photographers, Robert Frank, had little or no regard for the "rules of
    photography". He shot photos with crooked horizon lines, ignored the "rule of thirds" and shot
    directly into the sun. I like photographers who aren't afraid to break the rules. I think intuition and
    knowing your subject plays a part of taking a good photograph as well. Photo-journalist George
    Tames who took the famous photo of John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office titled "The Loniest Job"
    was masterful at his craft. He knew that Kennedy had a bad back and could not sit  for long without  
    getting up to walk and ease his pain . So when Tames was given the opportunity to take a photo of
    Kennedy he used that to his advantage. H e did not take a posed shot of Kennedy seated  . He
    waited until everyone (including himself) had left the room and from the corridor he watched as
    Kennedy got up and leaned over the desk in front of the windows to rest his back. Tames stepped
    into the room, framed the photo and took the famous photo that reflected Kennedy with the weight
    of the world on his shoulders. Tames' daughter Stephanie, a writer and artist wrote the introduction
    to this volume of 21st Century Photography.


    Elizabeth:  In the statement you sent to Randy (Randy Rendfeld - Courier-Times Editor) it said that
    you found your love for photography while doing research in Henry County. Was your photography
    career something that evolved out of serious study or are you self-taught?

    Mark: I started taking photos for research purposes only. I had a cheap Kodak Easy-Share camera
    and was interested in getting good photos that showed places and things related to my genealogy
    research. Dates and information  on tombstones, old churches and school-houses etc. As time went
    on, I realized I really enjoyed photography and tried to get the best shot possible. I bought a better
    camera and read every book on photography I could get my hands on. It was about this time that I
    discovered the book Raintree County by hoosier Ross Lockridge Jr. In the novel there is a photo of
    the Henry County Courthouse. I then decided that I wanted to take photos of Raintree/Henry County
    as it is today. It's still as beautiful today as it was in the Civil War era setting of the novel and in the
    1940's when the book was written and published, but much of the past is vanishing and I wanted to
    preserve it in photos if I could.

    Elizabeth:  Over the years, has your style or method of taking photos changed as you matured as a
    photographer?

    Mark: Definitely. When I started serioulsy taking photographs, a new technique known as HDR was
    in it's infancy. HDR combines three differently exposed shots of the same subject to create brilliant
    color, contrast and lighting. I thought I would always do HDR. As I grew as a photographer I started
    appreciating the raw side of photography. I now love to develop photos in black and white and
    without a lot of enhancement. PhotoShop is great...but there's something to be said for "natural"
    photography and the classic elegance of black and white photography.

    Elizabeth:  What emotions or ideas do you most try to convey through your photographs?

    Mark: I think the emotion or feeling I most try to capture with my photos is nostalgia. I love hearing
    from people who tell me they enjoy a photo I took of something that reminds them of their childhood.
    I think the "idea" behind my photography is that the places and things around us that we take for
    granted may not be here a year from now...or even tomorrow. I got several requests for a photo I
    took of the old Hillsboro Church. There were 100 years of stories and memories tied into that church
    and suddenly it was just gone. Another example is a house in the 2400 block of Broad Street where
    my great great grandmother lived after her husband, a Civil War solider died. Luckily I took some
    photos of the house when I learned of it's history because a few weeks later it was torn down to
    make a car lot.

    Elizabeth:  What does Henry County and its ties to your family bring to your work? Is it important to
    you to connect viewers of your work to the past?

    Mark: Almost every photo I take and all my research is absolutely tied to Henry County and it's
    history. Branches of my family were here as early as 1824. They built churches and schools..worked
    at the Maxwell and Krell Piano factories. They farmed the land and built houses and roads etc. I find
    everything about the history of Henry County to be fascinating. I have some letters that were written
    by my great great grandfather in 1890 describing everything from wheat prices to Sunday afternoon
    baseball games. I want people to realize that their ancestry is an important part of who they are and
    we all have a rich heritage. My website is all about Henry County and it's people. One of the things
    I'm most proud of is a Heritage Award my site received for "Helping preserve the past for the future".


    Elizabeth: Do you have a favorite area to shoot in New Castle/Henry County?

    Mark: My favorite area would have to be east of New Castle in Liberty and Dudley Townships. I
    make frequent trips to Batson Church and Cemetery and have photographed that area more than
    any other. Another favorite area is south of New Castle on Road 40....it's a great place to take
    photos with old homes, businesses and small town charm.

    Elizabeth:  Was it difficult to bring together the work of more than 25 different photographers and
    artists to form a cohesive book on one theme/topic?

    Mark: It can be difficult. Sometimes I would wait for weeks to receive photos from the photographers
    and sometimes 4 or 5 would send everything at once.  It's a great group of artists though and they
    were all excited to be a part of the project. They all love what they do and it shows in their art.

    Elizabeth: In your provided statement it says you recently sold several photos to Showtime TV for
    the show "United States of Tara." What was that like, and has your photography crossed over into
    other mediums?

    Mark: Selling my work to Showtime is probably the most exciting thing that's happened since I
    started taking photos. I received an email requesting permission to use my photos on the show
    "United States of Tara", produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by Diablo Cody. I thought it was
    spam. I emailed them a few times and realized it was the real thing. I'm anxiously awaiting the
    episodes that will have my photos in them. They will appear in season 3 on episodes 3 and 4. As for
    other mediums....a photo I took at Summit Lake was used as the album cover for the German band
    "Mindmovie" (musician/composer Achim Weiderschem) on his album "An Ocean of Dreams", in
    videos featuring the music of Swedish composer Simon Husberg,  in a book of poetry by poet Anne
    Hogrefe ( Coming Home) and inspired some poems by poet/philospher Richard Mc Sweeney of
    Ireland in his "Unto Lineage Royal" book.

    Elizabeth:  Where is your book available?
    Mark: The new book is available at Blurb.Com.

    Elizabeth:  What is the cost?
    Mark: The cost is: $30.95 for softcover, $42.95 for Image Wrap and $45.95 for hardcover.

    Elizabeth: The formats available say softcover, hard cover and ImageWrap. What is ImageWrap?

    Mark: ImageWrap is a hardbound book with the cover photo printed in the actual book as opposed
    to having a dust-jacket.

    Elizabeth:  Finally, do you have any other projects in the works? (Another book, a gallery showing,
    etc.)

    Mark: I have a few projects that I've started. One is a book about Batson Church and Cemetery
    including the history of church members and those who are buried there. The history of the church
    (which has so far proven elusive) and even some ghost stories . I also hope to include the diary
    entries of Batson Cemetery Caretaker during the mid 1900's,  Aldona Yauky.   
    Also in the works is a book about "family" which is another collaboration of photographers from
    around the world and a tentatively scheduled album cover shoot for the Bobby Clark Band from
    southern Indiana.

    Thanks very much!
    Mark Orr
New Castle, Indiana Courier Times Interviews Mark Orr
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"21st Century Photography Vol. 2" - "Embracing Life"
Richard Earl - Photographer
Danka Dear - Photographer
Dakota Sean Orr - Photographer
ABOUT THE BOOK

21st Century Photography Vol. 2 "Embracing Life", is the second in a continuing series of books featuring the
photography of some of today's finest photographers from around the world. From the west coast to the east coast,
the heartland and southland of America to places as far away as India, Canada, Australia, Switzerland and more.
Some fine photographers and their wonderful art are featured in this lovely coffee table book that will surely bring joy,
inspiration and beauty into your home. Also included is the poem "Embrace Life Sublime" by Richard Mc Sweeney and
lyrics from the song "Family Tree" by Venice. Introduction by Stephanie Tames.Thank you to all who have contributed
their work in this second volume of 21st Century Photography, and thanks to all who purchased this book of fine art. It
will make a treasured edition to any library.
Dimensions  Standard Landscape  80 pgs
Category  Arts & Photography
Artists whose work appears in "Embracing Life":
Stephanie Tames (Introduction), Richard Mc Sweeney, Mark Sean Orr, Joanne Beebe, David Patterson, AyJay
Schibig, Ed Pearson, Bob Batchelor, Richard Earl, Venice (the band for the use of their lyrics of the song "Family
Tree"), Elsa Marie Santoro, Amy Virginia Miller, Marion L. Brown, Prasad Pawaskar, Danka Dear, Renate Streminger,
Annie Fournier, Regina Williams, Allen Crenshaw, David Geneaux, Diana Graves, W.E. Arnold, Debbie Meyer, Chris
Petty, Kathy Lindsey, Eric Roth, Paul Ponticell, Stuart Harrison, Bill Cleveland, Dakota Sean Orr, Bill Metek, Ken
Custer.
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