The Beauty Part; What Mark Steines Really Wants To Do Is Direct Page 2

His photography is also affected by his knowledge of what it's like to be studied through a lens. "My job is to be on camera, so I know that when you're standing there, the lens it's going to see every flaw, every insecurity you have. When I step behind the camera, I'm very empathetic to that."

"My two boys sharing a hug after an ice cream at Universal Studios in Orlando. This picture hangs in our house and hopefully reminds them they will always have each other." (EOS 30D, 35mm f/1.4; f/1.4 at 1/800 sec.)
"Little Ava destroying another of the world's beautiful offerings!" (EOS-1D Mark III, 70-200mm f/2.8L; f/5 at 1/800 sec.)

Technology has definitely had an effect on his work. "I'm able to go for the full range of the digital experience, all the possibilities. The goal of my photography involves all the elements--taking the pictures and then using Photoshop to add to them or subtract from them. I like to be able to use Photoshop as a tool of the process, to adjust and change things. I really enjoy digital--it gives me a chance to be stimulated in many areas--shooting, lighting, processing effects. You can grow more with digital."

But as technology giveth, it also taketh away: "The darkroom was an oasis," Mark says, "a way to get away from everything and just work on what I loved."

"My niece, Morgan, has this amazingly thick hair that I wanted to emphasize. I didn't want too many shadows, so I had her face into the later afternoon sun." (EOS-1D Mark III, 70-200mm f/2.8L; f/8 at 1/250 sec.)

Mark considers himself "a hobbyist, an enthusiast," but he knows he has a few big advantages over the average avid shooter. "I'm constantly looking around. If I go to a movie set, I seek out the stills photographers to see what they're shooting, what lenses they use. I pick their brains: `What's the ISO in here? What speed are you shooting at?' I'm after information from all the photographers I see. I work with some of the best lighting guys, so I have a resource of people for information on color temperature, equipment, using gels, and figuring distance. We have experts in Photoshop at the studio, too, and I'm always in there asking, `How does this work? How do you flatten the image when layering without losing control of this or that?' I have built-in consultants."

But all that merely surrounds the central issue. Ultimately it seems to be the individual nature of photography that's especially satisfying to him. In front of the camera he's directed; behind it, he's in control, making the decisions. "My photography," Mark says, "is an avenue for me to express my work individually."

Which might be the real beauty part of the story.