Biography

Mark has worked for many years as a professional freelance photographer covering lifestyle features for national and international UK based publications. Always searching for a new challenge, Mark also seeks out his own stories which have led to extensive photo essays on the Baduy people, a reclusive tribe in the remote jungles of Java, Don Pascaul – the last shaman of Todos Santos in Guatemala and the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Mark also spent three months documenting the lives of the PKK, a Kurdish resistance movement currently fighting in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq. He is presently working on a number of large photographic assignments about the many remarkable people who reside in the Bulkley Valley of British Columbia.  Some of this work and information about a future book and exhibition can be found here.

 

Mark currently lives and works in British Columbia dividing his time between his two passions, education and photography. He recently returned from Bolivia where he has been developing an Educational For Employment initiative based in part on his experiences gained while working with First Nations communities in the Bulkley Valley.

About the Exhibition

remarkable people

This project has seen many changes along the way. It originally started out as a series of photo essays, groups of images about individual people who live and work in Northern British Columbia. I would often find myself happily driving along dirt tracks and back roads to distant hamlets traversing the Skeena, Bulkley, Kispiox and Nass valleys with my trusty camera bag beside me, crammed with all the journalistic paraphernalia needed to capture the world as I see it. 

 

Together, we sought out the hidden, the unusual, and the visually compelling. From trapping to seal hunting, tattoo parlours to gold panning, my camera became my passport to open up these new worlds. The photographic opportunities seemed limitless and I began to realize that one could spend a lifetime in this part of the world and never want for stories to tell. The more people I met, the more possibilities presented themselves and the more I felt the need to define a collective body of work. This eventually led to the following exhibition, the Remarkable People project. 

 

I am often asked what it is that qualifies someone as being remarkable, a question to which it is often difficult to provide a simple answer. The human spirit and the way in which we choose to interpret the world is always uniquely subjective and to that end, the following images are unapologetically the valley and its people as I have come to know it. 

 

Listening to Myron Wilson tell stories about when he first learned to hunt, and watching him slip effortlessly into his bushman skin when out trapping on the territories, was truly a remarkable experience. Hanging out in the Smithers Community Radio rail-car with DJ Ben Anderson and MC Hak-Love at a live performance of gigantic oscillated bass explosion was equally unforgettable; as was my time with the Canadian Rangers,  Hudson Bay Taxidermy and a hundred other amazing encounters which I had during the course of this project. I can wholeheartedly say, if I hadn’t taken a single image, this journey would still have been worthwhile.  

 

Finally, this is the Bulkley Valley that I have come to know and love. It is not, and nor should it be, to everyone’s liking. It is deeply personal and beyond all, it is honest.  A few of the themes may invoke a degree of contention but this is what I saw, a celebration of the wonderous reality of life to be found here. Proof that compelling photography doesn’t require exotic travels, for the remarkable people who make the world such a wonderful place to live are right here on our doorstep

markwestphotography

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