Mark Forte Fine Art Photography: Blog en-us (C) Mark Forte (Mark Forte Fine Art Photography) Tue, 11 Mar 2014 22:58:00 GMT Tue, 11 Mar 2014 22:58:00 GMT Mark Forte Fine Art Photography: Blog 120 120 Arts & Crafts Fairs, Exhibits, Books & Bug Eyes Forte_M_2012-11-29_DSCF9060

I have been away from this site for ages, and though I know better than to say I will write more often, I will at least try to update you now.  I have recently finished exhibiting at the 49th Annual ASUNM Arts and Crafts Fair.  Well, it’s only my fourth time, but, as always I found it a nice chance to talk to  people and get a sense for their interest in photography in general and my work in particular.  I especially enjoy the chance to get out of the School of Architecture and Planning and meet students in other disciplines.

As you are probably aware, the market for fine art prints has taken quite a beating with the economic downturn.  Galleries from here to Santa Fe have been closing, and the ones that remain are having a tough go with prints if they accept them at all.  I have had the distinct  pleasure of exhibiting at The Artistic Image gallery over the past two years, and I hope it will continue as a venue for exhibits.

Artistic Image Venice Jan 2012 Announcement 800px

My most recent exhibit (Dec/Jan 2011-12) was titled Venice: City of Illusions – Polychrome Series II.   It featured some of the work in progress that I included in my book, Polychromes, announced in an earlier posting.  You can read a bit more about the exhibit here.  All of the images  from the exhibit are available through my Etsy shop.

IST-SKG Blurb ebook cover At the end of August, I mounted a rather ambitious exhibition at the University of New Mexico titled Thessaloniki – Istanbul: Four Hundred Years of Interwoven History.  This  photographic essay comprised 365 images with text on 26 panels. It dealt with the way we form mental images of the city and how these inform our understanding of the city.  While it was a rather personal approach, it offered a useful insight into how we create a framework for understanding just about anything.  So now, I am sketching out ideas for a longer publication in which I can develop this model further.

You can learn a bit more about the exhibit by clicking on the exhibit catalog cover.  If you are interested, the catalog can be purchased at  As with all blurb books, the print version is a bit pricey, but the quality is quite fine.  There is also an eBook offered at a very reasonable price.  Both include images of the panels alongside the text, which would otherwise be too small too read.

Forte_M_2011-04-07_DSCF2519 And finally, I need to make time to work on the second book of The Labyrinthine Cycle – my children’s trilogyIn the Craft Fair photo above, you can just make out the first installment, Bug Eyes and the Sacred Scrolls.  It is intended for anyone from precocious nine-year-olds to adults.  It’s not silly, but it is funny.  Although, I suppose, you should really be the judge of that.  You can learn lots more about Bug Eyes and even read a bit of it here.  I’d be happy to know what you think.  Just drop me a line here or through the Bug Eyes web site.  If you feel you just have to have the book right now, visit  It is available in print and Kindle® Edition format.

Let’s see how much of this I can get done in the next 6 months.  I will (try to) keep you posted.

(Mark Forte Fine Art Photography) Arts & Crafts Books Bug Eyes Children's Literature Etsy Shop Exhibit General Greece Istanbul Kindle Thessaloniki Turkey Venice fine art prints photography Mon, 10 Dec 2012 19:58:01 GMT
Polychromes Book Released Blurb Polychromes Cover

Polychromes - Book Cover

After more months than I care to admit, I finally feel ready to release my first book of Polychromes, which I call, believe it or not, Polychromes.  I first developed the technique when producing my first photography exhibit, Legacies in Stone: Polychrome Series I.  Like many photographers, I try to look for stories in my subject matter in the hope of producing prints that will convey those stories, or, at least, trigger the imagination.  Until that show, I was happy with the results I had creating duotone prints in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom – happy until I ran into a photograph that would simply not yield its story to my ministering.

I love what Lightroom can do, and in the earlier version which I used to create Legacies in Stone, I liked the fact that all my changes were “global.” That is, I could not isolate parts of the image for adjustment.  If I increased the contrast, all the contrast changed; if I darkened the yellows, all yellows everywhere in the image were darkened, and so on.  Of course, I could have gone into Photoshop or any other image editing program to work, but I just like Lightroom’s more limited, perhaps primitive, approach – more like working in a traditional darkroom.  Newer versions of the program let you do some localized editing, but it is still fairly global in its approach … but enough about Lightroom.

Today, I want to announce the book, which is available through  No, it’s not with a “real” press.  I did it myself, but it is good.  It will give you some insight into how and why I developed Polychromes.  I have annotated all the images from Polychrome Series I, including the 12 Vignettes.  There is also a preview  of Venice: City of the Sea, which is a work in progress.  I am offering the book with premium paper in both paperback and ImageWrap hardcover.  You may preview a sampling of pages below or on the web site, and please feel free to send any comments on to me.  Enjoy.

(Mark Forte Fine Art Photography) American Southwest Greece London Paris Turkey Venice exhibit photography polychrome prints Fri, 23 Apr 2010 15:58:17 GMT
Notre Dame Exhibit Up and Running Legacies in Stone at the Bond Gallery After a bit of a delay, Legacies in Stone is indeed up and open to the public at the University of Notre Dame’s Bond Gallery.  You can see the announcement here.

The show will run through Monday, May 3, so if you are in the South Bend, Indiana area, please stop by.  It’s worth the drive from Chicago, too!

(Mark Forte Fine Art Photography) Exhibit photography polychrome Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:06:24 GMT
Exhibit Date Change The good people at the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture have run into a small scheduling dilemma. The are currently under review for accreditation, and, as I can well believe, they are a little tied up.

As a result my collection of images titled “Legacies in Stone” will be put up a two weeks later, and is now scheduled to run from Monday, April 19 through Monday, May 3rd. If you are in the area, please stop by and let me know what you think.

(Mark Forte Fine Art Photography) Exhibit photography Thu, 08 Apr 2010 13:28:54 GMT
What Defines a Fine Art Print? Today I read an interesting thread over on  The original poster was asking for a “Definition of ‘Fine Art Print’.”  It is a logical question, especially now that everyone seems to be cranking out photographs with their digital cameras and printers and calling them fine art prints.  Many of the answers dealt with the technical aspects of printing and the materials used.  These are important components, but they represent only part of the story.  Besides, all fine art prints should be printed to archival standards, anyway.

So, what other qualities define a photograph as “fine art?”  You could ask the same question of a sculpture or a painting, and, beyond inherent differences in each medium,  I think the answer would be similar.  While I do not pretend to have a definitive answer, I can offer some insight into why I consider some of my photographs as fine art in the hope that it may help you reach your own conclusion.

West MesaWest Mesa West Mesa

Defining what constitutes fine art is difficult, not only because it can seem subjective, but also because it depends on intangible or unquantifiable elements.  If it were simple, no one would ever ask for a definition.  Still, I would like to suggest four elements that define a work of fine art for me: perception, composition, voice, and story.  Let me describe what I mean by each.


Spiral RailSpiral Rail When I go out with my camera, I try to be open to my surroundings.  I generally do not set a specific goal, like photographing bare trees, broken fences, or street people.  And I rarely stage a photograph.  I am more of a serendipitous photographer.  That is, at some point in my wandering about – and this may sound bizarre – something will “ask” to be photographed.  In truth, it helps to have taken photographs for years, because you develop an eye for subjects.  Without that special sort of perception, it is difficult to capture meaningful pictures.  I should add that, it is not just an eye for the physical world, but also for the emotional life that fills it.  I don’t often photograph people, but I almost always look for subjects that imply the actions of people.


Mantel PiecesMantel Pieces Once I find something that strikes me – or it finds me – I take a photograph.  The composition is extremely important to me, though, frankly, I don’t spend a lot of time composing in camera.  One of the benefits of an arts education and of taking lots of photographs is that you learn to see the framing even without the camera.  Once the scene is in the viewfinder, you make some adjustments, but for the most part the work is done quickly.  I do not mean to suggest that it is final, because I often will include more in the frame to give me more control when completing the composition for the final print.  Cropping is a wonderful skill to master!


Athena NikeAthena Nike This is the raison d’être of the photograph.  Why did I take it?  What was I thinking and feeling at the time?  What story, in effect, is the final photograph going to tell me?  All the futzing about in Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop is about getting the story out.  But it doesn’t matter which photo editing software you use, just as it doesn’t matter which word processor you use.  In fact, I would argue that it doesn’t often matter which camera you use or how many megapixels it has, as long as you can capture the essence of your subject. For me, developing the story is the challenge, and this is where most of the “art” comes in.  It’s certainly where most of the time is spent.


FlaskFlask Your voice is what you use to tell your story.  In essence, it describes the unique properties that you bring to your art.  It comes from within, but is influenced by our experience as well as our genetic “hard-wiring.”  I find it influences all phases of my creative process.  It influences how and what I photograph, how I compose an image, and it most definitely influences how I develop and print an image.  Ultimately, it embodies what makes my work mine and possibly unique.



Cranes over VeniceCranes over Venice Perception, composition, story, and voice each contribute to my final print.  If I’ve worked diligently, the whole will be greater than the sum of the parts.  In my mind, at least, the image above has become more than a photograph of a bunch of cranes and houses, more than technical processing skills, and certainly more than archival paper and ink.  It must transcend to become something larger – to become a fine art print.

Those are my thoughts, though I imagine this is a topic I will come back to over time.  Meanwhile, I would be very happy to hear what others have to add to the discussion.

(Mark Forte Fine Art Photography) Creative Process General photography Wed, 17 Feb 2010 22:54:51 GMT
Etsy is official Spirit Ladder

Spirit Ladder - Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico

This entry was supposed to go up on December 20, but the holidays got in the way – albeit in a good way.  I wanted to write about how thrilled I was to sell my first piece on Etsy.  Now, after the fact, it is difficult to maintain the same warm glow of that moment.  The print I sold was Spirit Ladder ehich you can see at the left.  It was an unnumbered polychrome print available a few different sizes.  I like the sense of uplift this image gives me, and I hope that the person who received it gets a similar feeling.  It is sometimes surprising how people react to an image.

Since Spirit Ladder was ushered out the door, I have had the good fortune of placing my Limited Edition print of Haghia Sophia in a very good home, as well.  So, it seems my Etsy shop is off to a good start for 2010 – knock on wood.

Looking ahead, I don’t really want to spend much time writing about Esty – at least, not about the day in-day out workings.  Rather, I want to address some of the aspects of my work.  One of the first I want to cover is “polychromes”.  I describe much of my new work as being polychrome.  This term has a particular meaning for me, and I would like others to understanding what I mean by it.  It is not a specific technique, but it does have a particular look, so I will elaborate in the near future.

I hope “near future” is not an euphemism, especially since I have been work ing, off-and-on, on a short polychrome book that has been “coming soon” for rather longer than I care to admit.  I hope that mentioning this in a blog constitutes an obligation to complete the book.  This would be a companion to my Duotones, Color & Transformations book that is available at  This is a portfolio of work done before I came up with my polychrome approach.

I will leave off here as I need to add new items to gallery pages and to my Etsy Shop.  I’ll leave you with my best wishes for the New Year and a preview of one of my newest polychrome images.



(Mark Forte Fine Art Photography) Etsy Shop photography Fri, 08 Jan 2010 11:15:25 GMT
On Memory in Architecture

Legacies in Stone Limited Edition Boxed Set

After several weeks and an excellent Thanksgiving break on the west coast with family and friends, I have finished putting my Legacies in Stone – Polychrome Series I archival prints onto my Etsy shop pages.  The series consists of two parts: 18 limited edition prints and 12 unnumbered “Vignettes.”  They mostly depict European architecture, dating from the fifth century BCE up until the late 1800s.  I am drawn to pretty much anything that has a story to it, and that most often means things that are old.  I’m not sure why that is.  Perhaps, it is because, as a friend once put it, I was born eighty years old.  That would now make me over 130 years old -  but who’s counting?

If you happen to live in the vicinity of the University of Notre Dame, you will be able to see an exhibit of the limited edition at the Bond Gallery in the School of Architecture from April 5 – 16.

As I mentioned earlier, I was recently on the west coast.  Although I was armed with my camera, I took very few photographs.  This often happens when I am with family or in familiar surroundings.  I think I am so absorbed with being part of an unfolding story that I don’t want to stand back and dissociate myself from the events.  I cannot easily switch between being an observer and being observed.  That probably has something to do with my attraction to architectural subjects.  But why is it that I am less attracted to more modern architecture, I wonder?

Having worked in architectural design for a number of years, I often photographed buildings.  As I’ve written elsewhere, I have come to realize I am not motivated by the need to build.  Rather, I am fascinated by the ability of architecture to evoke memories.  That’s not remarkable.  I think many people are.  What I find uncanny, however, is that buildings seem not only to evoke memories, but also to retain them.  That is, (cue the eerie organ music) I think they somehow absorb the energy of the events and people that passed through them.  Why would I make such a daft statement?  Well, partly as a mind game, but partly because it may explain why a building or ruin can evoke thoughts about its former inhabitants, even though they are separated from the observer by great spans of time and distance.

Perhaps that’s all nonsense, but if I allow myself to believe it, it explains why newer buildings hold less interest for me.  New buildings have not absorbed enough memory.  OK, maybe it’s simply because the buildings we use today are so familiar.  We know what they are used for and very few unusual events take place within their walls.  Older buildings, especially ancient ruins, have an air of mystery about them.  We cannot help but project our minds into the past and conjure up a foggy image of what might have been.  Maybe it’s all in our imaginations.  I prefer to think of it as the memory of the past, written into the stone, that is speaking, trying to tell me its story.  That is what I tried to capture in my photographic series, Leg Chair acies in Stone.

Perhaps in another 130 years, I’ll discover the memories being etched into the architecture of today.

With good cheer,


(Mark Forte Fine Art Photography) Creative Process Etsy Shop photography Thu, 03 Dec 2009 15:45:33 GMT
46th Annual ASUNM Arts & Crafts Fair At the 46th Annual ASUNM Arts and Crafts Fair

At the 46th Annual ASUNM Arts and Crafts Fair

I’ve just come off of three days at the ASUNM Arts & Crafts Fair.  I had a great time, even if I am exhausted.  This was my second year at the fair which has been held at the University of New Mexico for the past 46 years.  My work is high-priced for a fair of this sort, but I like exhibiting here, because the folks who come through really appreciate the work.  I especially enjoy talking with the photography students who are always interested in learning about new techniques.


Peace - Taken at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco

Preparing for the show gave me a chance to select and prepare new images that will end up in my online shop – that’s work for the coming week(s).  And being at the show told me something about what people liked.  The interesting thing about that last point, though, is that people like things for all sorts of unpredictable reasons.  (I suppose I should have expected that.)  I only print images that have a special quality about them and a special meaning for me.  I cannot assume that others will see them in the same way.  For instance, one person was very moved by an image (at right), because it reminded them of a person dear to them.  I could not have known that, but it made me very happy to hear it.

Several people felt I should have this work in galleries.  That sounds good, and I have had my work in a gallery, but I have reservations about this approach, because galleries want to sell my work at double or triple the price that I ask – and keep the difference, of course.  They do provide a certain exposure to well-heeled clients, but for now, at least, I prefer selling directly at a fair price without the gallery markup.  Of course, if anyone wants to pay me twice as much or more, I’ll consider it.

Before I sign off, I want to thank everyone who visited my booth at the Fair.  Also, a special thanks to my booth neighbors: Allison, the gifted herbal wildcrafter (look it up), Rachel, whose wonderful beaded ear rings should soon appear on Etsy (right?), and Dave the potter who graciously took the photo of me above.  Like me, they put their hearts into their work, and I wish them the best in pursuing their craft.

(Mark Forte Fine Art Photography) Etsy Shop General Greeting Card photography Sun, 15 Nov 2009 12:06:13 GMT
Welcome to Photographic Journeys BestiaryBestiary

I have come dangerously close to starting a blog a couple of times now.  I know most people just “do it”, but I have held back.  I worry.  I worry that as soon as I publish the first post, I will unleash a screaming hoard of demons who will come down on me like Harry Potter’s ghastly Dementors.  More realistically, I worry that I will hear nothing at all beyond the deafening cooling fans of my computer.  I won’t know until  I try.  With that in mind, I hereby launch Photographic Journeys.

This launch coincides with my opening of a shop on where I will be selling archival photographic prints and cards.  Some of what I write here be about the shop, but mostly I want to write about photography.  I hope you will take some time to look at my shop, but you can also see a wider range of my photographic work in my online galleries.

My work tends to be strongly influenced by architecture and an appreciation for the past.  The first is the result of my training in architecture, and the latter is due to the fact that I sometimes feel I should have been born in the 19th century.  The result shows up in my photography, especially in the type work I call polychrome.  I have been working on a book about my polychrome images which I hope to finish before the end of the year and publish on  It has been very slow in coming, but I think Photographic Journeys will help that process along.


Bird WatchBird Watch

(Mark Forte Fine Art Photography) Etsy Shop General photography polychrome Thu, 05 Nov 2009 16:06:06 GMT