Brief Encounters: Photographs by Mark Howell

Exhibit Dates: 
Wednesday, Mar. 9 to Friday, Apr. 1
Artist Reception: 
Friday, Mar. 11 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm
2nd Saturday Opening: 
Saturday, Mar. 12 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm

The title of Mark Howell’s exhibit, Brief Encounters, alludes to how he usually photographs and to how his photography shifted when he began using digital equipment and processes. For a couple of decades, starting in the early ‘90s, he photographed with 4x5 view cameras (and sometimes a medium format camera) using black-and-white film, and made prints in his home darkroom. “It was a great way to make pictures,” Mark says, “but it involved a lot of labor and a lot of limits.”

About four years ago, he started photographing and printing digitally. “I wasn't ready to forsake my view camera, but I was ready to explore the kinds of picture-making I wasn't able to explore with fairly bulky camera gear, black-and-white film, and darkroom printing.”

As he expected, he found digital photography very freeing. “I could shoot without committing to developing and proofing film. I could see instantly what the camera had captured. I could save choices (black-and-white or color, filtration, perspective control) for later. As long as I made a decent exposure, I could fix a lot of things in software. And with programs such as Photoshop, I could make much more radical adjustments to extract the picture from the captured image data.”

Generally, Howell’s photographic process has always begun with wandering around looking for pictures. “With digital cameras, however, my wandering is less burdened and the pictorial possibilities are more varied; the image capturing is less studied, more reactive. I wind up enjoying brief encounters with a wide range of subjects that intrigue or move me. Sometimes, in retrospect, the encounters are facile; sometimes they're of only middling interest. But I'm grateful for them anyway.”

“And every now and then, I manage to turn a brief encounter into a picture that delights or moves me enough that I want to share it. The prints in this exhibit are some of my favorite Brief Encounters from the last four years.”

During recovery from a period as a young poet, Mark Howell found himself middle-aged and somewhat lacking in creative activity, and it occurred to him to buy a simple little camera and try making pictures. It didn't take long for photography – and photographers – to become a very important part of his life. After fleeing the Bay Area for Placerville at the end of the last millennium, he now lives in West Sacramento with three cats, an elderly dog, and lots of other people's photographs.


Mark Howell — Four Circles and Three Rectangles


Mark Howell — Palm Tree, Santa Cruz


Mark Howell — Kitchen Cloth and Stove, Manzanar


Mark Howell — Yosemite: A Valley View


Thank you to our sponsors!

Kenneth Meyers
Meyers Investment Group of Baird

Platinum Sponsor


Viewpoint Photographic Art Center is the proud recipient of a SMAC Cultural Arts Award grant.

Individual Sponsorships
(Luminance Level & Above)

Diane Tempest

J.B. Jones

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