Question: Why do you love what you do?
Mark Peters: I feel that you have to really like to be out in the field. More often than not I don’t come home with good images. It can be really frustrating and boring to put out the time and effort and come home empty handed. It’s very rewarding when things come together and I’m excited about the images I’ve captured.
Q: What artist of the past would you like to meet?
Peters: It would be great to sit down and drink a couple beers with Charles Russell. He was the real thing, a working Montana cowboy that witnessed the end of the free unfenced range. He saw the end of the line for the buffalo herds and the Native American free lifestyle.
When they talk about big sky country, His works really give you that feeling. His firsthand knowledge of the American West, and I suspect a great sense of humor would make Charles Russell my first choice.
Q: What makes a picture “a favorite”?
Peters: It has to stand up to the test of time. If you still like an image after 10 years, it will most likely be a favorite.
Of course a favorite image can be one that stirs memories of a personal experience.
One of my favorite images is a girl in a doorway in the back country of Nepal. Kind of a long story but I found myself on a trek in 1977. For someone like me that grew up in small towns in Nebraska and Eastern Washington, it was like going to another planet. The girl is dressed in rags, dirt poor and about 15 years old. She is beautiful and her eyes look right through me.
Q: What do you want others to experience when they view your photographs?
Peters: How lucky I was to be there at that moment.
Q: Do you interact with the digital world/technology in your work?
Peters: I shoot all digital images now and use Adobe Lightroom to file and process my images. I do some limited processing with Photoshop but mostly with Lightroom.
I have a website that I maintain at markpetersimages.com.
Q: Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
Peters: I typically scout out the area before a photo shoot. I need to know if it will be better in the morning or late afternoon. I need to determine things like if it’s reasonable to set up a blind and be there before sunup.
Many of my wildlife images have been shot from a vehicle. Some subjects will tolerate a vehicle but not someone walking around.
I go to refuges and national parks where animals are more approachable. Some photographers go to wildlife farms to photograph captive wildlife models. This has never appealed to me.
Landscapes are all about timing and conditions. I look for interesting weather/lighting conditions. Seasonal factors I look for are wildflower bloom, fall color, and frosty/snowy scenes.
Q: What about nature interests you?
Peters: As I learned more about identifying birds, I learned more about their migration and survival mechanisms. We have Swainson’s hawks that nest in the Basin; these hawks migrate annually to Argentina. Tiny songbirds and hummingbirds migrate huge distances and somehow find their way back to the same spot.
The amount of daylight that reaches the eyes of birds and mammals controls their life cycle. This is referred to as the photoperiod; it triggers the hormonal changes for the cycles of reproduction, migration and hibernation. It is a built in mechanism to provide the best chance for survival. It amazes me how it all ties together.
Erika Kovalenko is artistic coordinator at the Moses Lake Museum & Art Center. She can be reached at 509-764-3830.