Mark Coggins

American Photographer | Born: 1957
Mark Coggins is a crime-fiction novelist and photographer. Five of his six award-winning novels are illustrated with images taken by him. His photos have been exhibited in galleries across the country and have been featured in books of other authors, notably Red Mist by Patricia Cornwell and A Lover's Discourse: Fragments by Roland Barthes. He has written about photography for View Camera magazine and is a contributor to Getty Images.

All About Photo: When did you realize you also wanted to become a photographer?

Mark Coggins: I've been interested in photography for a long time. I had a darkroom with a friend in grade school where I developed and printed pictures I took with an old 35mm Bolsey rangefinder camera my father gave me, but didn't really get serious about it until my mid-30's when I took a view camera class with Mark Citret.

All About Photo: Where did you study photography? With whom?

Mark Coggins: I've taken a number of classes and workshops with Mark Citret. While Mark is primarily a large-format photographer and I was initially interested in large format as well, I've evolved into more of "street photographer" using digital 35mm equivalents. However, I believe the training in large format has given me a deeper appreciation of composition, depth of field and exposure that is quite beneficial in making my images.

All About Photo: Do you take photographs between books or at the same time?

Mark Coggins: I move fluidly between writing and photography, doing both pretty much at the same time. When I photograph to illustrate my novels, of course, the two are yoked together in the service of the same goal.

All About Photo: Does your writing influence your photography or vice versa?

Mark Coggins: A bit of both. Originally, I was using photography to document street scenes I wanted to describe in my books. Then I hit upon the idea of including the photos I was taking in the books. Later I began to alter the plot of my books to have an excuse to include photos I liked that I had taken without reference to a particular scene.

All About Photo: What lead you to photography and why?

Mark Coggins: In the very beginning, it was the photos my father had taken during the Korean War with the 35mm Bolsey camera he eventually gave me. My mother recently found a box of his old negatives and slides, and several images-particularly of Korean children-are quite good.

All About Photo: Do you remember your first shot? What was it?

Mark Coggins: I don't remember the first photo I took, but I do remember the first one I developed and printed (around the age of 12). It was a snapshot of a large toy rubber beetle of my brother's. Not great art!

All About Photo: What was your first paid assignment/job?

Mark Coggins: The first print I sold was the photo of two chess pieces on a board that was used for the cover of my first novel, The Immortal Game. Several bookstores carried prints of the photo to sell to collectors who had enjoyed the book.

All About Photo: What or who inspires you?

Mark Coggins: I photograph street scenes from cities throughout the world. What inspires me most is capturing groups of people interacting or engaged in a common activity, rather than simply taking street portraits of individuals, although I have plenty of those in my portfolio.

All About Photo: How could you describe your style?

Mark Coggins: I like sharply focused images with a full tonal range, pulling in as much detail as I can in the shadows. Most all my work is black and white with a colder toning.

All About Photo: Do you have a favorite photograph or series?

Mark Coggins: "Geisha Confidential." It was taken one evening in Kyoto, Japan. I was walking down a back street in the older part of town when a cab with a geisha pulled up. The cab driver went in to an adjacent building to retrieve a second geisha. The photo documents the moment when the second joined the first and they began an urgent conversation.
I like the image both because I was so extraordinarily fortunate to be in a position to take it and because I did a fair amount of editing to achieve the nourish atmosphere (I believe) it conveys.

All About Photo: What kind of gear do you use? Camera, lens, digital, film?

Mark Coggins: I mostly use Fujifilm rangefinder digital cameras, which is perhaps appropriate since my first camera was the Bolsey rangefinder. I also have a full-frame Nikon DSLR that I use for non-street photos.

All About Photo: What is the influence of digital technology on your photography?

Mark Coggins: Although my serious interest in photography began with my involvement with large format film photography, I was never that good a printer. It wasn't uncommon for me to like the Polaroid proof I took of a particular shot more than I did of the final print. If, as Ansel Adams said, the negative is the score and the print is the performance, I was blowing it during the performance. Digital has made me a better performer.

All About Photo: Do you spend a lot of time editing your images? For what purpose?

Mark Coggins: I do a fair amount of editing. I often crop, convert to black and white, dodge and burn where necessary and try to make sure I've gotten as much detail in the shadows as I can. I also tone my images on the colder range of the scale.

All About Photo: How do you choose your subjects?

Mark Coggins: I look for interesting people interacting in interesting ways on the street.

All About Photo: Favorite(s) photographer(s)?

Mark Coggins: Oh, there are so many. Mark Citret, of course. From there, in no particular order, Sally Mann, Edward Weston, Ruth Bernhard, Eugène Atget, Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Henri Cartier-Bresson.

All About Photo: What advice would you give a young photographer?

Mark Coggins: I can't tell you how to do this, but I do believe it is important: to develop one's own style. It took me a long time to do it, and I only realized I had done so long after the achievement. It's not a paint-by-numbers type goal.

All About Photo: What mistake should a young photographer avoid?

Mark Coggins: Although I've been guilty of it myself, I see a lot of photographers over-manipulating images. Perhaps it's the influence of Instagram filters.

All About Photo: What are your projects?

Mark Coggins: I shot continuously in my home city of San Francisco, but for some reason, my best photos seem to come during travel to foreign countries. I'm planning a trip to several new (to me) European cities this summer.

All About Photo: Your best memory as a photographer?

Mark Coggins: When the Patricia Cornwell's publisher contacted me about using my photo of Savannah's Colonial Park Cemetery for the endpapers of her novel Red Mist.

All About Photo: Your worst souvenir as a photographer?

Mark Coggins: Over-exposed 4x5 negative of what I was certain to be a great shot when I didn't properly seat the bag bellows of my large format camera.

All About Photo: The compliment that touched you most?

Mark Coggins: When my mother hung one of my (really not very good) photos in her living room next to a watercolor by very accomplished artist.

All About Photo: Your favorite photo book?

Mark Coggins: Along the Way by Mark Citret.

All About Photo: An anecdote that comes to your mind?

Mark Coggins: I lived next to Ruth Bernhard in San Francisco for several years. I'm embarrassed to admit that I didn't really understand her importance to the photography world until I met her at a party.

All About Photo: Anything else you would like to share?

Mark Coggins: Another anecdote: when I shut down my darkroom, I sold my sink to music photographer Tom O'Neal, who photographed the cover of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's Deja Vu album.
Mark Coggins
Mark Coggins
Mark Coggins
Mark Coggins
Mark Coggins
Mark Coggins
Mark Coggins
Mark Coggins
Mark Coggins
Mark Coggins
Mark Coggins
Mark Coggins
Mark Coggins
Mark Coggins
Mark Coggins
Mark Coggins
Mark Coggins
Mark Coggins
Mark Coggins
Mark Coggins
Mark Coggins
Mark Coggins
Mark Coggins
Mark Coggins
David Bailey: SUMO
 
 

More Great Photographers To Discover

Beckett Hornik
Nationality: American
Born: 2002
Beckett was born and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. He began photographing in sixth grade when he decided to pick up a film SLR camera as an alternative way to capture moments throughout his early teen years. His interest in photography grew during his middle school period. He explored the photos of many masters of photography and found inspiration in the California and Bay Area art scene. He also became interested in fashion and art magazines at this time. Beckett’s (…)
Beckett Hornik
Beckett Hornik
Beckett Hornik
Beckett Hornik
Beckett Hornik
Beckett Hornik
Beckett Hornik
Beckett Hornik
 
Paul Outerbridge
Nationality: American
Born: 1896 - Died: 1958

Paul Outerbridge, Jr. was an American photographer prominent for his early use and experiments in color photography. Outerbridge was a fashion and commercial photographer, an early pioneer and teacher of color photography, and an artist who created erotic nudes photographs that could not be exhibited in his lifetime.

Paul Outerbridge, while still in his teens, worked as an illustrator and theatrical designer creating stage settings and lighting schemes. After (…)
 
Micaela Mau
Nationality: German/Italian
Born: 1986
Micaela Mau is a German-Italian artist. She has studied visual communication at the Istituto Europeo di Design in Rome and at the School of Visual Arts in New York as well as Foreign Languages and Literature at the Università degli Studi Roma Tre.
While studying and working abroad in Tokyo, Frankfurt and London she developed an interest in photography, fascinated by the ambiguous relationship between photographic image and reality.
She currently lives and works in (…)
Micaela Mau
Micaela Mau
Micaela Mau
Micaela Mau
Micaela Mau
Micaela Mau
Micaela Mau
Micaela Mau
 
Carol Beckwith
Nationality: American
From carolbeckwith-angelafisher.com
Thirty years of work on the African continent have carried Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher across 270,000 miles and through remote corners of 40 countries in exploration of more than 150 African cultures. In the process, this team of world-renowned photographers has produced fourteen widely acclaimed books and made four films about traditional (…)
 
Arja Katariina Hyytiäinen
Nationality: Finnish
Born: 1974
Arja Katariiina Hyytiäinen was born in 1974 in Turku, Finland. She is a graduate of the Department of Documentary Photography at FAMU (Prague, Czech Republic). Hyytiäinen is interested in self-experienced stories. Thanks to her classical documentary background, her works often reflect a combination of self-experienced subjective reality and fictional intuitive storytelling. She has published two books ‘Distance Now’ and ‘Arja Hyytiäinen – Cahiers’. She is the recipient of (…)
Arja Katariina Hyytiäinen
Arja Katariina Hyytiäinen
Arja Katariina Hyytiäinen
Arja Katariina Hyytiäinen
Arja Katariina Hyytiäinen
Arja Katariina Hyytiäinen
Arja Katariina Hyytiäinen
Arja Katariina Hyytiäinen
 
Achille Quinet
Nationality: French
Born: 1831 - Died: 1900
Born in 1831, Achille Quinet was a successful photographer who operated a studio at 320 rue St Honoré, Paris from about 1869 to 1879. Although Quinet made photographs of the moments and architecture of Paris as well as a series of views of Italy, he is best known for his landscape, animals and figure studies, many of which were made in or around the town of Barbizon and the forest of Fontainebleau. These photographs, which were likely intended as aids to painters, are (…)
Achille Quinet
Achille Quinet
Achille Quinet
Achille Quinet
Achille Quinet
Achille Quinet
Achille Quinet
Achille Quinet
 
Simon Roberts
Nationality: British
Born: 1974

Simon Roberts is a British photographic artist based in Brighton, UK. Often employing expansive landscape photographs, his approach is one of creating wide-ranging surveys of our time, which communicate on important social, economic and political issues.

Roberts has been exhibited widely with We English touring to over thirty national and international venues. He’s had solo shows at the National Media Museum, Bradford, Museum of Contemporary Photography, (…)
Simon Roberts
Simon Roberts
Simon Roberts
Simon Roberts
Simon Roberts
Simon Roberts
Simon Roberts
Simon Roberts
 
Esmeralda Ruiz
Nationality: American

Artist Statement: "My childhood was different then most. Growing up with nothing but artists was one thing, but having actually flat lined during a surgery after being diagnosed with a kidney infection changed my life forever. It wasn’t that it left me weak or prevented me from going outside and playing or even going to school with other children but the images that I saw when that moment occurred is what I strive to show in my work today.

A wonderful world (…)
Esmeralda Ruiz
Esmeralda Ruiz
Esmeralda Ruiz
Esmeralda Ruiz
Esmeralda Ruiz
Esmeralda Ruiz
Esmeralda Ruiz
Esmeralda Ruiz
 
Filip Dujardin
Nationality: Belgium
Born: 1971

From www.featureshoot.com
Filip Dujardin is fine art and architectural photographer based in Belgium. Dujardin’s Fictions is a series of fictional structures created using a digital collaging technique from photographs of real buildings in and around Ghent, Belgium. Some of his architectural creations are structurally (…)
 
Philip Metcalf
Nationality: American
Philip Metcalf was born in the Finger Lakes area of central New York State. He is a photographer who focuses mainly on the landscape, shooting in black & white infrared. The “Fire Ghosts” portfolio explores the devastation and unexpected beauty caused by the 2011 Las Conchas forest fire in New Mexico. In 2013, a photo from this portfolio was selected for the Art of Photography show, curated by Julia Dolan, the Curator of Photography at the Portland Art Museum and hung in (…)
Philip Metcalf
Philip Metcalf
Philip Metcalf
Philip Metcalf
Philip Metcalf
Philip Metcalf
Philip Metcalf
Philip Metcalf
 
David Bailey: SUMO
 
Join our newsletter
Be up-to-date with call for entries, deadlines and other news about exhibitions, galleries, publications, & special events
 
NEW! All About Photo Awards 2019 Magazine
All About Photo Awards 2019
 
 
 
The Jules Maeght Gallery is a contemporary art gallery who seeks to engage the San Francisco community by infusing European artists, young and established alike, into a diverse, multimedia dialogue.
 
TAKES U TO THE NEXT LEVEL
 
Since 2005, your guide through contemporary art from a French perspective to let you make exciting choices