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Monday, 08 October 2012


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I've come across Surloff's pictures before, rambling around the internet. I like them. It could be partly a Florida/California similarity, but many are more than a bit Wesselesque, don't you think?


A small sampling of Mark's work is on Photo-Eye as well.

Nice. My first guess is that the photographer isn't a user of his own website---or perhaps believes that making it difficult to navigate will somehow decrease people's attempts to rip off his work. The truth is however far more benign. He used Apple's iWeb to generate the site.

It would be an interesting thread to find out what software your "photog-readers" use to generate their portfolio sites.

He also has a gallery at photoeye with prints for sale.

Mark Surloff, if you read this please fix your website. Opening a full screen window (Firefox/OS X) to view the pictures is simply rude. Doing so to view a tiny image seems simply inept. Clicking on an image to view the image at exactly the same size is simply comical. Your work is good, your presentation of it does it no favours

Thank you for pointing these out! So many superb compositions!

Great stuff! It's worth pointing out that he has a 20-image portfolio at photo-eye which is more convenient to view. Here: http://www.photoeye.com/GALLERY/forms2/index.cfm?image=1&id=186963

Conceptually interesting.

Certainly fine stuff (Gary's hint to Wessel struck a chord in the back of my brains) and as hard to view as they are interesting, and for me it remains a mystery why someone would try to hide his images with such website design.

A natural extension of the TOP Print Sale: The TOP POD Photo Book Sale? Each quarter an unpublished (or at least, 'unmonographed') photographer would be selected, and with your help he or she would pick 50-100 images that work well together and flow well. Then using a simple template (or not...maybe a designer could be sourced) create a print-on-demand book that we would all snap up by the barrow load.

I looked through Mark's work on Photo Eye. Very nice work, good eye. (His Web site suggests that he's not really into the Web thing at all. Too painful and unrewarding to browse the old Apple photo template site.)

Yes the high contrast of the work reminds me of some of Wessel's work. But I could point towards style parallels with several of Surloff's contemporaries (ex: Lewis Baltz, Joe Deal). Harkening a bit back to Mike's earlier article, it was a style that was goin' 'round in the day.

Absolutely no disrespect to Mark's work intended. I like it. And according to his resume several museums and collections also liked it (or at least were recipients of donations of his work). But it's very much in the already well-represented "New Topographics" style.

I like a good number of Mark's images. I noted that they are displayed in several different sizes and wonder if that's intentional. One problem with web display is that it's difficult to determine what size the photographer considers to be optimal for the display of his/her images. Personally, I'd love to see Mark's pictures in large sizes, but for all I can tell, he might print them small for print exhibition. I agree that his website would benefit from a different form of navigation.

Just as a way of saying thanks for pointing out such beautiful work, I ordered something from Amazon using your link.

Most museum curators and book publishers have their collective heads [insults redacted —Ed.]

Wow! Nice work for sure. Funny, I see what you mean by glimpses and influences of many others... Friedlander, Winogrand, maybe even a little HCB and more, yet still very original and fresh. I'm always envious of those who can make such wonderful compositions out of such everyday material.

Looks to be some great examples for those working to understand the meaning of "individual style" in photography. After a little time spent looking at Surloff's work you can pretty clearly identify what makes these pictures his. Also a nice reference for those times when you think to yourself 'there's nothing worth photographing around here'. Obviously, Mark Surloff can come up with something interesting anywhere!

And another +1 on the crummy website navigation and design. You're right, I got tired and moved on after looking at a dozen images.

He has that eye that so many of us wish we had. If you get just one or two of those photos it can be luck, but so many indicate he either tries really, really hard, or he has a very sharp eye, or a little or both. Good sense of humor too. I like the monstrous digger about ready to attack St. Louis.

Superlative! Why no book indeed!

Thank you Mike and Marek...

I agree with "Ed". the website stinks. Less isn't always "more"...it's just less. Let's see these images at a decent size & resolution...we promise not to steal them.

Thank you, Mike and Marek.

I particularly like "Home Depot (under construction), 2003" (5th picture on PhotoEye).

There's an intriguing shot at http://www.marksurloff.com/Site/Images2_2%203.html

It's centre-upper, "Fence and Birds".

Re website design: zenfolio.com gives a nice product that's customisable. It's easy for non-technical types, and the geeks can get their hands dirty. Use the referral code ZYQ-BU1-HSZ to get a discount.

Maybe kickstarter and CRB will be the end of "publishers" - we can hope!

What I love about any form of art, when I see it, is the intrinsic beauty, which makes me reverberate internally, makes me feel richer. It is like learning one of the classic mathematical functions, or finding a solution to a complex problem.
No matter how "New" or "Conceptual" someone's work is,if it does not convey this level of aesthetic experience, I find it difficult to digest it.

Therefore, I do not care much, if as Ken Tanaka has pointed out, this work falls into the "well represented New Topographics style", if the rest of photographers shooting this way are unable to create photographs as good as these.

After all, there have been thousands of photo reporters in the 20th century, and when the dust settles down, and we exclude the iconic shots of celebrities and violent events, who will emerge, is HCB and not much else.

wonderful images!

Thanks so much for your kind words about my work. One wonders how others feel about our images, and its encouraging to have read these comments. Good luck to all!

Could the best photographer in our generation be out of sight to his/her generation like Van Gogh (vs say Picasso the two most expensive painting artist currently)? It was assumed somehow the global eyeball (not just Mike eyeball alone) would spot him/her.

In the firm era, we got Vivian Maier but could that still happen in our well connected world especially if you use digital camera.

One argues that may be he / she probably has to use phone with facebook/twitter account as this reflects what most of the human photographer do mostly lately.

But one may note that even though Vincent is not famous he is part of the Paris Cafe group. Hence, may be he is using S1 or A99 or digital back ... probably not 8x10. One wonder.

Just when I thought my work was fine I run into these great images.

Absolutely stunning work, and I don't mind his website design at all which is elegant and easy to navigate forward and back. I went through his entire personal portfolio and some of his architectural work as well. As the images come up very quickly I spent much more time actually studying the work than navigating. I also like that he didn't use a black background that seems requisite for photographers these days, nor did I have to put up with what I find most annoying on photo websites - Flash technology.

photoeye.com (link here: http://www.photoeye.com/gallery/forms2/index.cfm?image=1&id=186963&imagePosition=1&Door=1&Portfolio=Portfolio1&Gallery=1) has a small selection (20 images) of his Florida portfolio that display larger than on Mr. Surloff's web site.

This is one of the best photo´s I have seen so far this year.....and that counts....believe me.....that counts.

Greets, Ed.

Is it rude to ask what camera he uses for his personal work? I want to buy the same camera so my pictures can look like his. 8(

Kidding. But I want to know anyway. Mamiya 7?

Phil Maus: Obviously, Mark Surloff can come up with something interesting anywhere!

One thing I've come to believe about photographing "The Mundane" "beautifully" (like Mark's work) is that the opportunities are about as frequent as any other "beautiful" image i.e. not that common and not that easy to see.

To not look like a random shot you need a clean composition of an scene that's not too simple but not too complicated, somewhat symmetric (but not totally symmetric), some obvious interactions between items in the scene (that you see immediatley) some less so (that take some time to see). Finding a place where you can frame the scene without stuff spilling out the edges (unless it goes on, and on ...).

There's a lot of "Goldilocks" in finding these scenes that are "just right" but they're just as infrequent as scenes in other genres.

I think that's what makes finding them challenging and photographing them worthwhile.

OMG! A reply direct from the Man Himself! I feel embarrassed and humbled. Anyway, thank you so much for allowing us a peek into the tool-end of the pictures. Much respect for the Pentax 67 use: I tried and it didn't work out too well.

Your pictures are fantastic, so 'thank you' for taking them (and 'thank you' to Mike for bringing them to our attention)!


Wonderful images !
I have looked at the entire portfolio and almost all of the images "speak to me", which does not happen very often.
I agree with Mike that this body of work ought to be published.
I'd buy the book in a heartbeat.

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