Growing up on the north shore of Lake Superior, Mark Vanderkam fell completely in love with the landscape of the north – huge waterfalls, rugged Precambrian granite hills and cliffs, sparkling waters, and the luminous moods of Lake Superior and the northern skies.
At age 16, he picked up a camera and never looked back. He was passionate about landscape photography almost immediately. Mark would go out hiking, cross country skiing, kayaking, and canoeing … often solo, sometimes for weeks at a stretch … shooting thousands of Kodachrome and Ektachrome slides. Still a teenager, he then learned the art of creating Cibachrome prints in the darkroom and started to exhibit his work in galleries and small shows in southern Ontario, where he went to university. Mark’s photography was and is an expression of his personal emotional response to the landscape. It has always been that way. He was perpetually amazed at the brilliance of the northern landscape ... the sunlight glowing in the emerging birch leaves in spring ... the beams of light playing across the stormy northern waters in November ... the ice crystals in winter reflecting a multitude of tiny rainbows when viewed in close-up ...
Since those early days, Mark has traveled far and wide with a camera, spending a couple of years in south India in his twenties, and hiking and paddling and skiing through many wilderness areas in Canada, the USA, Europe, Southeast Asia, and Iceland. Photography is a form of meditation for Mark, of slowing down, of following the breath, of stopping to listen, of allowing oneself to simply observe without judgement. In this zen-like place, Mark then finds himself responding to the beauty and begins to find the compositions that speak to him.
Today, Mark is on a quest to perfect his art using new digital tools and archival printing technologies. Mark is deeply concerned with the increasing environmental degradation that is transforming our world and is seeking to use his photography as a way of sharing the beauty of this magical earth, to inspire people to love and protect this fragile planet -- the only home we have.
Statement by Mark Vanderkam ...
Somehow, we ride the shoulders of this great planet flung through the reaches of endless empty space. In the wilderness, under the stars, exposed to the weather, the illusions of civilized life are stripped away and we connect with the fact that we are strangers on a strange world, bathed in beautiful light and warmth from an ancient violent cauldron of fire in the sky.
As a photographer, if I can provoke or inspire a viewer to feel something of my sense of wonder at our place in the cosmos, I feel I have done my job.
As an artist engaged in the pursuit of wilderness landscapes, I resonate with the old Inuit poem ...
I think over again my small adventures,
Those small ones that seemed so big,
For all the vital things
I had to get and to reach;
And yet there is only one great thing,
The only thing,
To live to see the great day that dawns
And the light that fills the world.
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