Friday, April 29, 2011

Day 1 & 2 Chugging Along

So far my Kickstarter project is a raging success! The first day brought $650 in pledges. Special thanks to the early birds- Lisa Ballogg, AJ Kane, K. Dickinson,Maureen Kreuser,Mitchell Pomper,Leonardo Alvarado, And David/Michelle Esquivel. The second day added two more supporters- Keith Younquist and Gary Ballogg bringing the total to $905 as of 6pm. Hoping to crack $1,000 by midnight.

I feel confidant in saying that this Pere LaChaise book will be one of a kind. There are many books on Pere LaChaise but they are primarily reference material with photography playing a secondary role. This book is exactly the opposite and could be proudly displayed in your home.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Let The Fun Begin!!!!

After 3 weeks of tweaking my Kickstarter page I am finally up and running!
Click on the link to the right and let mr know what you think.

This was a challenging process, especially the making of the video. I have a greater respect for those that make their living in front of the camera and manage to look relaxed. I think I'll stick to the other side. I was fortunate to have the assistance of an excellent videographer who managed to get the best I had to offer.
If you need a videographer you can't go wrong working with Steve Lemieux-Jordan at Evanston Photo. His link is listed on the right.

I'm pleased with the final result and hope you share my enthusiasm for the project. With your help, I hope to create an extraordinary book. Please visit my Kickstarter page and "join" the group that launches
"Pere LaChaise"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


The Print Hunt

After searching for a printer for the last 10 days, I think I'm starting to get a sense of my options.
I have looked at 5 estimates/samples and I think that printing out of the US is going to be the best bet.
China,and India so far are the front runners with the right combination of price and quality.
The final book will be at least 12"x12"and could end up larger depending upon the cost. A slip case is also a serious consideration.
The quality of the photographic reproduction is the most critical aspect of the project. Since technology changes so rapidly these days I have been actively searching to find the latest and greatest printing processes.
I'm still awaiting several estimates but it starting to look like $10,000 will cover the cost of printing 500
high quality large format slip cased books.
I'm close to having my KickStarter page up and running. Shot the video this week, more on that in my next post.


Thursday, April 7, 2011


As I searched for interesting links to include on my website I came across Jim Morrison in Paris.
While I was shooting in Pere Lachaise I was frequently stopped and asked for directions to a particular grave; must be something about carrying all of that equipment that makes you look official. Hands down, the most frequently asked question was "Do you know where Jim Morrison's grave is?". Not bad for a Rock and Roll icon dead for 40 years. Even more surprising was the diverse nationalities looking for his grave, in fact, the Americans were a minority.
The adulation surrounding his burial site has been a sore spot for the French and they have threatened to move his grave on several occasions. When I was there the grave was strewn with bottles of booze,flowers, cards, and psychedelic graffiti; the remnants of graveside parties. In 1988, the original grave marker that included a bust of Jim was stolen after years of being defaced by his fans. It was replaced by his father, George Stephen Morrison, with a new stone headstone in the 90's. If you would like to retrace my steps and take a virtual walk to his grave use the link Virtual Tour of Pere Lachaise and click on Jim Morrison; a flashing red cross will appear on the map. Click on the white dot just below the cross and you will be able to see a panoramic view of his grave and surrounding area.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Famille Gaumont, Chemin du Dragon

Ave Circulaire

At Long Last!

Shortly after graduating from Columbia College in the 80's I was fortunate to live in Paris for just over a year with a scholarship from the French. The experience had a profound impact on my life and shaped who and what I am today. One day I happened to wander into a Parisian cemetery in the 20th arrondissement , taken aback by what I saw. Here I was in the heart of Paris walking through a sprawling "City of the Dead", an architectural wonder in various stages of decay. As I marched by the graves of luminaries of the arts and sciences, I passed mausoleum doors hanging by their hinges, sacred contents  open to the public,  distant wails of feral cats drifting through the mist. I vowed to return with camera in hand before my scholarship ended but Paris' lighter side kept me from returning.
I settled in Chicago, married, had a family and went about the business of supporting myself and my loved ones. Over the course of the next 10 years I focused my attention on building a successful  architectural studio until one day my interest in Pere Lachaise was rekindled. In a local paper I read of a recent controversy in Paris over the proposed removal and relocation of remains buried in Pere Lachaise.
At that moment, I began to plan my return. After getting approval to shoot in the cemetery, I returned in 1994 with an assistant and shot 200+ images, from sunrise to sunset for two weeks. Over the following years, I mounted several successful exhibitions of B&W Piezography Carbon prints. The next logical step, a book, proved to be more daunting than the return and exhibition of the final work. After several near misses with publishers I happened upon another article, this time discussing the merits of a public funding website, Kickstarter. It seemed like a perfect fit; if I could share my passion for and photography of Pere Lachaise with the public I might be able to realize my dream, sharing my work in book form . I submitted, was accepted and here I am writing my first blog entry at the start of the final phase of a slow dance lasting over 20 years.

I will post Pere Lachaise images weekly; you can also check the links for more info on the cemetery. I expect to have my Kickstarter page posted in the next couple of weeks and will keep you updated on the logistics of creating that page. Once I am up and running I will also keep you posted on my progress as well as providing a link so you can visit my project page on Kickstarter.

I look forward to your comments and I hope you enjoy the work. Who knows, maybe you'll want a copy of the book and end up being a supporter on Kickstarter.

Merci, Mark