Glasgow born and New York bred portrait and celebrity photographer, Mark Mann, has shot some of the world’s most recognisable faces, from Benedict Cumberbatch to Barack Obama. A keen creative even from a young age, Mark was especially interested in the magic of the darkroom. But it wasn’t until a chance encounter with a photography student on the train to Edinburgh that he really considered it as a field of study.
“I’ve always had an interest in photography, but I was too young to understand that it could be a career outside of events and weddings,” Mark says. “This woman on the train told me about how she would shoot portraits and fashion too and that intrigued me.”
Mark went on to study photography at Manchester Polytechnic – the same university as the stranger he’d met on the train – before moving to New York where he’s lived for the last 20 years.
In this time, Mark has developed a unique shooting style with an emphasis on keeping his setup simple. “I like to keep my gear to a minimum,” Mark explains. “It can be really overwhelming for someone walking into the studio and there being gear everywhere.” Lit with just one Anova PRO 2, Mark considers his portrait of Olivia Wilde (below) an example of how a simple portrait can be incredibly effective. “I like to use just one light positioned slightly above the subject to really emphasise the cheekbones and get that round catchlight.”
Throughout his career, Mark had used traditional strobe lighting but found that there were situations where it was adding more problems than it was solving. “I’m often in the position where I haven’t got a lot of space to work with and strobes just aren’t practical,” Mark explains. “You get a lot of light from strobes – too much light when you’re working in a small space. There’s not enough space for all of the modifiers you need to diffuse it.
“There are plenty of people who also just don’t like being shot with flash,” Mark continues. “Richard Branson and Francis Ford Coppola are just a couple of examples I’ve worked with. People are very conscious flash and instinctively pose.”
Looking for a lighting solution that would streamline his workflow in high turnaround environments like film festivals whilst still allowing him to capture images in his iconic, high contrast style, Mark found Rotolight. Rotolight offer an all-in-one solution for that provides the shoot what you see benefits of continuous lighting as well as High Speed Sync flash capabilities with zero recycle time. Using Rotolight, Mark is able to save both time and space in studio; eliminating unnecessary excess gear with its dual functionality.
While Mark shoots much of his photography using the Rotolight Anova PRO 2, he always keeps a NEO 2 with him in his camera bag. Compact and lightweight, the NEO 2 is the perfect companion no matter where you’re shooting and can quickly and easily be put into action. The first time Mark ever used the NEO 2 was shooting Game of Thrones star, Peter Dinklage for Deadline magazine (below). Having brought no other lights with him, Mark pictured capturing a flattering natural light portrait as the sun reflected off of the building opposite him. What couldn’t be anticipated was the fact that Dinklage was running late for the shoot, and the perfect lighting that Mark was looking forward to utilising faded.
“I had to get someone to run down to the shop to buy some batteries because I wasn’t expecting to use anything other than natural light,” Mark admits. “The thing I love about continuous light is that it lets me work quickly when a client is late – and it happens. I can focus on the image I want to take rather than the setup.”
“Versatile, consistent and reliable, the Anova PRO 2 also looks good on set and I know it will always deliver in high turnaround environments. As a photographer who’s being asked more and more to shoot video and stills at the same time, Rotolight has really improved my work flow,” says Mann.