Mark Becker

I have been playing around with cameras since I was about 13.  I am much older than that now...  I've never loved anything quite as much as photography.  I can still remember the smell of the long lost carcinogenic wet process.  Like the taste of peanut butter, the smell gives me a sense of security and comfort.  Unlike peanut butter, unless you're allergic to peanuts, ingesting any of the chemicals of the wet process will leave you in need of more than just an EpiPen.  It was a simpler time.  It was back  when "smoking" or"nonsmoking" was the first decision you made when going out to eat. It was before bottled water started informing us it was gluten free, vegetarian, vegan and low car.  It was a time before eating tide pods was cool.  My generation needed no bragging rights for exposing ourselves to deadly substances.  We did it out of habit. We knew what was hazardous, but we also knew that getting sick and dying was something that happened to other people... I miss the darkroom very much.  But I still love making photographs.  

I studied fine art at Kutztown University in PA.  I have a bachelor's degree in fine art concentrating in photography and in printmaking.  As a young artist I would have said my work was about showing people something that is overlooked, under appreciated or ignored.  It could be a social issue, a political issue, or simply the capture beauty of the overlooked and underappreciated world.  I would have claimed that my soul intention was to capture beauty that was unrecognized by others. I wasn't arrogant or naive for thinking so.  After all, aren't we taught those things about artists from a young age?   I'm not saying that any of those reasons were irrelevant or false.  If any of those things are the motivation for creating art then that is in fact what the art is about.   However, today with social media coupled with smartphone cameras that shoot HD video we are flooded with images and ideas like never before.  No one person can keep up with the ideas and images of billions of people 24 hours a day.  It turns out, in my case, everyone notices at least one overlooked and underappreciated thing every day.  All they have to do is stop taking selfies for one hot minute and take the picture.  And many times they do just that.
Today I sometimes try to have two elements, and one of them is always what I perceive to be beautiful.  The social or political issue is sometimes very subtle and possibly put in just for me.  Other times it is an image loaded with social or political ambiguity.  I like those a lot.  Most of the time though, I have to admit I capture images based on the beauty of the moment. Even with all that banal minutia about social and political issues or the idea that i'm seeing what other people can't.  I can't think of many ways for me to feel a deeper connection with a complete stranger than them finding something I made so beautiful they had to talk about it.  I believe that when we are engaged with something we find very beautiful we are at least for a moment experiencing happiness.  Maybe even peacefulness. 

PALMYRA COMMUNITY LIBRARY   

2020