What makes a Mark Jordan Portrait stand out from the crowd?
by Kathryn Williams, AGI
With thousands of portrait photographers to choose from in Southern California, why hire Mark Jordan? What is the key factor that differentiates Mark Jordan Photography from every other family portrait studio?
There are several reasons people recount why they hire one family portrait photographer over another. While some cite price, others might prefer location or convenience. Though these reasons, and many others, are valid and sensible, the reason people mention most for hiring Mark Jordan may surprise you.
AWARD WINNING INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED
Orange County family portraits, Mark Jordan Photography, has been crafting striking family portrait photography and headshots for over three decades. He’s a venerated veteran of the photography arts, an internationally awarded professional photographer of universal acclaim, with clientele extending from the four corners of the globe.
If credentials were the reason to hire a photographer, surely Mark Jordan would be on the top of anyone’s list. He’s both a Master Photographer and Master Craftsman. He was inducted as a permanent exhibitor into the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum and his photo-recreation of George Seurat’s “La Grande Jatte”” hangs alongside of Ansel Adams in the museum.
Mark is member of American Society of Photographers, as well as being honor throughout Europe for his family portraiture. Epcot Center honored Mark three consecutive years in their “World’s Greatest Photographers” exhibit. And Professional Photographers of America bestowed Mark with their highest honor, The Loan Collection Award, an extraordinary eleven times!
Impressive? Maybe, but Mark tells us that it’s not enough reason to commission a portrait photographer: “Worldwide, there are dozens of photographers with such credentials, yet their family portrait photography is anemic at best. For me, there is something vastly more important than awards…”
PLANNING AND PREPARATION
If it’s not Mark’s distinguishing credentials that sets him apart from the crowd, could it then be his meticulous planning and extensive preparation that answers the question, “Why hire Mark Jordan”?
When Mark began creating portraits in 1981, his first impulse was to invite clients to his home studio to discuss their portrait needs. Because Mark never worked for another studio, his approach emanated from treating others as he felt he should, not as it was the tradition at the time. It was second nature to him to first meet and plan.
For Mark, there seemed no better way to hear a client’s initial ideas, as well as get a feel for their heart and personal style. It never occurred to Mark to follow the convention of the day to simply “schedule and shoot.”
Ever since Mark began performing portrait consultations, and has advocated this professional, logical approach, photographers worldwide have begun to practice this method as well.
Today, more than three decades later, Mark still meets with every client. They don’t consult with a staff member, mind you, but with Mark Jordan – personally.
As tempting as it might be to hire Mark for the mastery of his craft or his committed attention to detail (planning and preparing portraits for over three decades), this is still not good enough reason to hire Mark for your family portrait.
MASTERY OF THE MOMENT
The two most common phrases Mark’s clients express after being photographed are: “Wow, that was fun!” and “That was painless!” Why?
Though there are several reasons why Mark makes the portrait process fun and painless, the primary one being that Mark understands the “quintessential difference between the painter and the photographer: the moment.”
Mark explains, “Whereas so many photographers are preoccupied with perfection, they miss the substance. That is, they neglect the fleeting moment of a special twinkle or delicate glance. It’s one thing to be blessed with an artistic nature and an eye for balance and harmony, it’s an entirely different matter to simultaneously absorb the core of an artist’s temperament, all the while reigning it in so that the singular focus is not the craft, but the essence of the heart.”
Having asked Mark to photograph me prior to this interview, I can attest to what his clients have told me and what I’ve felt firsthand. A Mark Jordan portrait session IS “fun” and “painless,” and is what you too will experience in a portrait session with him.
You might be thinking that this third reason must surely has to be why a family might commission Orange County family portraits, Mark Jordan – right? Not by a long shot.
Though even the most portrait adverse client will come away from a session with Mark feeling relaxed and confident, it’s still not reason enough.
Trust me, there’s something even more relevant.
OVER THREE DECADES OF DEDICATION
As you are aware, countless family portrait photographers reside throughout Orange County. There are probably more photographers in Orange County today than ever before. Regardless, how many portrait photographers might you name who have dedicated themselves specifically to family portraits?
Of the photographers who can recall that specialize in family portraits, how many do you know who have been remained faithful to their craft for over three decades?
How about family portrait photographers who are Master Photographers? Master Craftsman? International Hall of Fame? Eleven time Loan Collection Award? Three time EPCOT award? And all this within their first ten years ever of picking up a camera?
We did our research – not only could we not find any in Orange County, we could not find any photographers in Southern California.
Regardless, this is still not THE reason to hire Mark.
ENTHUSIASTIC – EDUCATED – ECLECTIC
When you meet Mark Jordan, one trait will become readily apparent: enthusiasm. And this excitement for life is not limited to family portrait photography. Mark has studied various arts and disciplines, and because of this, he brings a unique, eclectic perspective to the photographic expression.
Mark is a lifetime credentialed teacher, and was once a teacher for Irvine Unified School District. It’s also where he met his wife, Kari, who was his student teacher. Though that’s another story for another time, I told it’s not a saucy as it sounds.
Mark’s talents also express themselves as a ceramist, stained glass window designer, counselor, a musician/songwriter, guitarist, bassist, sports enthusiast (golf, baseball), embroiderer, florist and cook.
Before the age of 25, Mark’s varied jobs encompassed everything from butcher, upholsterer, construction, and gardener, to security, waiter, bartender, and real-estate salesman. Just to name a few.
Then, some twenty years ago, just after being inducted as a permanent exhibitor into the International Photography Hall of Fame, Mark and Kari gave birth to their first child. This joyous event was abruptly followed by Mark withdrawing from the limelight and competitive photographic ventures to earnestly devote himself not only to his family, but to vigorously pursue family portraits exclusively.
So, what does enthusiasm have to do with so many pursuits?
For Mark, family portrait Orange County all began when he wrote one of his first songs, “Occupations.” Mark says,
“Occupations was inspired by my love for life, the profusion of things to do, my wonderment for those who performed them, and wishing I could do it all! I was an odd kid; I wasn’t quite a teenager yet and I was consumed with trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Too many options and so little time…”
Little did Mark know at the tender age of twelve he was preparing himself to be Orange County’s leading portrait photographer.
Nonetheless, this still does not answer, “Why hire Mark Jordan.”
STATE OF THE ART EQUIPMENT
“Yes, of course,” was Mark’s answer when I asked about the quality of his equipment. Mark uses only the finest photographic equipment, the state-of-the-art-cameras, captures exposures in raw format, employes cutting-edge software, etc. “blah, blah, blah.”
Mark does not enjoy taking about equipment.
When we asked Mark what lens he used for his acclaimed “Before I Bow,” he’d stared blankly into space, and then looked at me as if to say, “Well, I know it was a good lens.”
“Kathryn,” Mark asked me, “really, would you ever think to ask a doctor about his scalpel, or cook about her pots?” Obviously I wouldn’t. “So, why talk about my gear? They’re just tools. My camera is merely a hammer to the carpenter. I’ve invested the time and money to procure the best and then master them. Now that I have, I can neither tell you what I own, cuz I don’t care, nor see any benefit in talking about it. I know how to use it, which I try my best to make evident in my images. That’s what matters to me.”
Okay then, though Mark employs the state of the art photographic equipment and has gained mastery over it, is this a valid reason to hire Mark for your next family portrait? I wouldn’t dare ask Mark – I know what his answer would be – emphatically.
PEOPLE AND PROCESS FOCUSED
You see, for Mark, once trust has been established in his photo gear and skill, the basis for his certainty is set aside while the thrust of his passion is singularly focused on pursuing his passion: photographing people.
Much in the same way a master carpenter or cook, shortly after purchasing their professional wares, might not recall the brand they rely on, Mark would be hard pressed to accurately cite the details of his photo equipment.
In other words, for all Mark’s attention to excellence, it’s the process and people that motivate him, not the tools.
On a side note, Mark enjoys sharing his craft with young and “old” photographers alike and has developed a consulting program he loving refers to as LOYD (lunch on your dime). With LOYD, Mark will meet with either clients or fellow photographers and candidly answer ANY photography question they pose. The first consult is on Mark while lunch is on you.
Mark says that the only aspect of his LOYD where he falls short is when,”others begin to ask about model numbers, software versions/updates, equipment comparisons, etc.” Mark makes a low rumbling snore, “My God, I could not be any more bored. Most folk catch-on fairly quick, or I’ll kindly tell them it’s not my focus, and then segue on to what excites me – the process and joy of photographing people!”
Even though Mark’s singleminded absorption with people might, at the near exclusion of photo-equipment, might possibly earn him the appellation of anti-photographer, it is yet the reason ” why hire Mark Jordan.”
Mark’s passion for people (and apathy for photo gear) is also why he personally offers and designs his exclusive, unrivaled Signature portraits. Mark not only consults with his clients beforehand and photographs every portrait session, he also scrupulously examines every detail of every portrait creation. From expression, cropping, image styling and retouching, to portrait dimension, finish, texture and framing, Mark Jordan is with his clients every step of the way.
Whereas portrait studios typically employ retouchers at labs, and assistants for a host of essential details, Mark Jordan performs every stroke and alternation of his portrait creations. Mark asks, “Who better understands the style and finish of your family portrait photography than the designer? Who better to inspect quality control – a staff employee or a Master Craftsman Photographer?”
At Mark Jordan Photography, his clients can be confident that the man creating their finely finished portrait is none other than the photographer who managed their image from its inception to the nail in their home wall. That’r right, Mark not only photographs every family and creates their portraits, he even delivers and hangs his their portraits for them. It’s a complimentary service that he extends to his Orange County clients.
When I asked Mark if he could tell me what sets his apart his service from other photographers, he instead cited what his client’s tell him: “I think what my clients sense, or at least what they tell me, is that I am not so much passionate about photography as I am about them.”
Though you might think remarkable service is why you might choose Mark as your family portrait Orange County photographer, and though tempting, it’s still not the primary reason.
SKILL AND HEART
While there is a cadre of family portrait Orange County photographers who strive to be technically excellent, they miss the essential ingredient – the heart.
Then there’s the opposite approach where a photographer will expend their efforts at capturing the essence, but are baffled regarding the fundamentals of proper exposure, composition and light quality.
You see, remarkable photography is not an “either-or proposition” – fine portraiture requires both – technical excellence and aesthetic virtuosity.
This is where Mark Jordan excels – at the intersection of skill and heart.
Regardless, it’s yet the definitive answer to “Why hire Mark Jordan.”
CAPTURES GENUINE LIFESTYLES
When you look at the people in a Mark Jordan portrait the first impression you’ll experience is sincerity. Not only are the people real but so are the settings and how they are arranged.
There’s not a hint to artifice in a Mark Jordan portrait. Families are not unnaturally sitting atop one another (unless that’s what they normally do), nor do you see trendy poses and imitation “magazine-esque” styling.
You won’t see kids sitting on railroad tracks, mom’s with heart shaped hands over their pregnant bellies, or families dressed in frilly period outfits, replete with all the accoutrements that reflect nothing about their lifestyle.
It’s not that Mark merely rejects pretension, he abhors it.
When I asked Mark why he has such a strong aversion to the cliched portraiture that’s so common today, his answer surprised me. I thought his rationale would entail something regarding the integrity of art form. However, what I heard was more about the spirit of the image and what it reflects about humanity.
Mark feels that such “hackneyed images rob generations of a genuine connection with their past. Children, families and future generations are left with a shallow, Hollywood impression rather than a legacy of love.”
For Mark, family portraiture is more than a business; more than an artistic expression. Mark adds, “We laugh at stories of ignorant cultures who feared that the photographic process would steal the spirit, but in a very real way, this is precisely what an honest portrayal is attempting to capture – the spirit.”
Mark says it best by concluding, “Family portraiture is the bridge that enables future generations the extraordinary benefit of looking into the past and understanding from where their origins sprung forth. At its essence, family portraitures is the intermediary with our ancestors…”
“It’s for this reason why, some thirty years ago, when asked by People Magazine to cite three words that best described my style of portraiture I replied, ‘timeless, simple, meaningful.'”
AND THE WINNER IS...
We’ve examined severals possibilities as to “Why hire Mark Jordan,” and though all are respectable reasons we have to touch upon the leading principle. It cannot be put into words at all – it has to be felt. There is no better place to begin than by peering into the eyes of faces of the people in his portrait galleries.
Take a look for yourself. Once you do, you’ll see that above all the hoopla, awards, and mastery of his craft, possibly the best reason to choose Mark Jordan is for his rare, enigmatic style. The people are real.
Mark Jordan’s approach to family portrait photography is distinctive and cannot be expressed – it must be experienced.
You can do so today by not only beholding the lives and lifestyles of the people he has so richly captured, but by commissioning Mark to initiate the creation of your very own Mark Jordan Portrait.
Master Craftsman Photographer
American Society of Photographers
International Photography Hall of Fame & Museum
Orange County Photographer of the Year
3-Time Honoree -EPCOT’S World’s Greatest Photographers Exhibit
When looking for a professional Orange County Family Portraits photographer, or Orange County Headshots Photographer please call 949-888-8071 or complete our online request form.