Mark Chester has been a professional photographer since 1972. He was Director of Photography and staff photographer at ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), in New York City, prior to relocating to California in 1975.
His photographs and/or feature stories have been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle/Examiner, Christian Science Monitor, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Kansas City Star, Denver Post, Prime Time Magazine (Cape Cod Times), among others.
Chester created, produced and photographed the book,No In America (Taylor, 1986), a collection of tongue-in-cheek photographs of “no” signs. Previously, he photographed Charles Kuralt’s book, Dateline America(HBJ, 1979). Twosomes is his newest book.
In 1987, Chester created and produced the traveling exhibition and catalog, Shanghai: In Black and White, in commemoration of San Francisco’s “sister city”, as part of the San Francisco-Shanghai Cultural Exchange Program. The photographs were displayed at the San Francisco Main Library, the Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, The Kogod Arts Center of the Sidwell Friends School, Washington, D.C. and other venues.
Chester’s photographs are in permanent museum collections, including Baltimore, Brooklyn, Corcoran, Denver, Portland (Maine), San Francisco, and other institutions. His images have been exhibited nationwide in galleries, including O.K. Harris (NYC), Camera Obscura (CO), and San Francisco Airport and in galleries in Japan, Vietnam, London and alternative exhibition space.
Born in Baltimore, Chester grew up in Massachusetts and graduated from the University of Arizona (1967) with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He is a member of the Copley Society of Art, Boston. A former Adjunct Instructor at Cape Cod Community College, and photography instructor at the Falmouth Artists Guild and Cape Cod Art Association and Lesley University Seminars, Chester contributes the column, In My Mind’s Eye to the Community Newspaper Company on Cape Cod, including the Falmouth Bulletin.
Photography is the medium that best expresses my observations and travel experiences. My work is not limited to any specific category. They are pictures of people, places and things that have touched me in some emotional, intellectual and whimsical way.
The creative process for making photographs is the same, whether I am on the street in Boston, documenting daily life in Cuba or an airplane factory in Shanghai. I observe the human condition as it unfolds before me, attempting to capture that telling moment of people interacting or the juxtaposition of people in their environment. The process is a combination of thinking, intuition and anticipation of the subject; that is, I think about the angle and position to shoot from, the composition of the subject, and the light conditions. It seems to all come together in a nanosecond. Henri Cartier-Bresson referred to it as the “decisive moment.”
For me a “finished piece” can be a single image or a series of photographs that best sums up the story that evokes a reaction. It resonates with the viewer. When I set out to document Shanghai as a cultural exchange project, I outlined a category of subjects to photograph, e.g. medicine, industry, the arts, etc. From each, I selected the one image that stood out from the others.
The Shanghai project (1986) and No In America book (1987), illustrate two significant, artistic accomplishments, as do my photographs illustrating Charles Kuralt’s radio essays, published in the book, Dateline America (1979).
Shanghai was published as a traveling exhibition catalog, a feature travel article in the Boston Globe and South Florida Sun-Sentinel; also as an exhibition with artist Jim Dine at the Museum of Fine Arts in Fort Lauderdale, the San Francisco Main Library and other venues.
No in America was on exhibit at OK Harris Gallery (NY), Camera Obscura Gallery (Denver). A story about the “no” adventure was published as a travel article in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe and other major newspapers. Images from Dateline America were exhibited at the Springfield (MA) Museum of Fine arts, in a tandem exhibition with Gordon Parks and at the Van Doren gallery in San Francisco.
Photographs that ultimately are published and exhibited confirm, for me, that my vision of people, places and things are worthy, meaningful and enlightening. It is a great thrill to share