Always a teacher.
It was with great pleasure that my guest this week was Chris Marquardt, host of Tips from the Top Floor with over 670 podcasts and counting Chris has, arguably the longest running audio Podcast available on iTunes, which he started over 10 years ago!
Chris comes from an artistic background and wanted to get into the music industry by studying as a sound engineer. But finding that there was an Ear disease that runs in the family he decided to move toward computers, the 'Geek angle' side of things, as he says. As it turned out the ear infection has never materialised!
His first recollection of a camera would be a Kodak 110 Instamatic - a little plastic camera a point and click which he got at an early age of 6 or 7, it didn't really start his interest in photography until the age of 14. He has a family background of artistic intent. His grandfather was a painter, his uncle is a jewellery designer and on his father side of the family, 3 generations back were Altar designers and creators. All this artistic background lead to his involvement with art and photography. He was always encouraged to go with his interest. Never really being interested in sports even though his parents tried to encourage him! He was always enticed by the creative artistic way of things. Always prepared to think outside the box.
At the age of 14 he bought his first real serious compact camera and photography took off right there. An Uncle of his had a huge stack of magazines which Chris took and he was lost in the world of photography. He shot with Fuji film Velvia mainly because of as he said mainly price but also the bias towards green which suited his interest in landscape work. He later bought a Minolta x700 semi automatic aperture priority camera, which he used consistently until he turned to digital in 2003. His first digital camera was the Canon 300D (Rebel) and the usual kit lens 18-55mm, then a 50mm 1.8 and 35mm followed. Nowadays though having change up to full frame he shoots predominantly with a 24mm tilt shift lens which was the result of using a large format 4x5 camera with tilt shift options. With his full frame digital and the 24mm lens he could quite happily do his Himalayas workshop with just that kit. A true one camera one lens photographer!
Sharing his work on Screen share from his website shows Chris' work at its very best. He has visited many fantastic countries and as produced some wonderful images from Hokkaido to The Himalayas and other countries such as Ethopia. He consistently travels the world, to investigate possible workshop opportunities and for his own personal traveling adventures. His work is truly outstanding and is a must, to pay a visit to his site.
Chris with his colleague John Millar organise workshops. Usually every other year especially those to the Himalayas. He and John try to bring enthusiasm to the event, to learn new aspects of photography and experience wonderful countries and the people. He says "the best way to learn is to practice in an environment that is very easy going".
On his workshop's Chris is experiencing more photographers using Mirror-less less cameras although it must be said that DSLR's are still the predominant style of camera. He see the advantages of mirror- less cameras, but for his work there is no point to switch. There is no 24mm tilt shift lens to fit the Sony A7 still the only affordable full frame mirror-less camera on the market and there is no point to get into Sony ( which would mean a full system switch), just to add an adapter to accommodate his beloved 24mm till shift lens! Obviously time will tell if these types of lenses come available to Mirror-less camera users but suffice to say I can see where Chris is coming from. His type/style of work is based mainly around one lens - for the moment - and for that reason there is no reason to switch systems. He loves trying out new equipment and he tests new gear all the time this usually satisfies his curiosity of new gear.
His inspiration comes from his Uncle the jewellery designer and maker. It was he that showed Chris, the behind the scenes of craft-making, of getting your hands dirty so to speak from design/creation to presentation. Which Chris has found has helped him develop his analogue photography work. His infamous 'clear box light amplifying (April fool) terra-pixel camera", a few years ago got a little carried away. Thousands of people signed up for updates of the program. The initial idea was to create a story on photography with a little bit of fun. It got so serious that they had to 'pull the plug' and stop the process as they were getting some very serious enquiries into the camera, especially from Hollywood!
And future plans? Over the last few years he has moved into more travel projects. Traveling to Donegal Ireland in October, trips to the states to San Diego and New York are planned in the immediate future as he looks to develop this size of his photography interest. In addition he has a plan to establish the 'Viewfinder villa' where he hopes to create a working school environment from class to darkroom as he has recently bought a villa with many rooms available to utilise for his love of teaching photography. His workshop style now is to teach the basics at home rather than taking it on the road all the time.
His favourite photographer would be Henri Cartier-Bresson, but one that he follows and works with from time to time is Trevor Cole from Ireland a landscape photographer. Chris 'says I've learnt so much from him. He is a great teacher and produces superb Portrait and Landscape work'.
What a show! I thoroughly enjoyed my chat with Chris Marquardt a podcaster, photographer and an amazing teacher/workshop host.
Thank you so much Chris.
Until next time...
"Leave your camera bag at home"
The all important links.