Mark Edward Atkinson is an accomplished professional photographer, documentarian, and writer, mostly because he's been at it for a while and knows little else. He is also the partner and creative director with Otto Design + Marketing. He started his career with the News and Observer in Raleigh, N.C. where he won his first professional award for a photo illustration, that in all honesty wasn't that great. With practice however, his work improved and has subsequently appeared in Time, Newsweek, The Washingtonian, Esquire, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Marie Claire, and numerous other publications including the National Enquirer. He has never been arrested. Mark has traveled the world meeting phenomenal people and shooting work for nonprofit organizations such as Mercy & Sharing, ICD, Smile Train, the United Way, Urban Ministries of Charlotte and Picture World Hope. He has directed and shot several documentaries in the past five years on a range of topics, including homelessness, poverty, mental health and facial deformity. As a board member and photographer for Smile Train, he has worked in Southern India, China, Haiti and Afghanistan to shoot both still photography and documentary film telling the stories of doctors and their cleft palette patients.
SHOWS AND PUBLICATIONS
Mark's photography has appeared in exhibitions at The Chrysler Museum of Art, the Stanley Gallery, the Hermitage Museum, The Fayetteville Museum of Art, the Maine Photographic Show, Communication Arts, The One Show, and Photo District News. His advertising photography and graphic designs have also won numerous ADDY Awards including Best in Show. His distinctive photographs and advertisements have been the focus of many hospitality, tourism, fashion, retail and lifestyle marketing campaigns.
Mark received a business degree from Wake Forest University and an Associate of Applied Science degree in photography from Randolph Technical College. It is unclear just how much he really learned from either program.
Waking up (too numerous to count).
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” IRA GLASS