What makes Mark Steinmetz an incredible bookmaker is his ability to almost weave a narrative out of several disparate elements without ever giving into the formal engagement of authorship in the literal sense to create a unified and cohesive story line. He eschews the forced conventions of plots, narratives and suggestive storytelling while building his story arc(s) in different directions all under the guise of a beautiful sentiment or emotion. It leaves the characters, the images and fittingly so, the book to remain limber and in a state of open possibility. There is often a nod to the sentimental-a word that we feel so dispassionate about these days, not unlike romantic.
From ASX by Brad Feuerhelm
Mark Steinmetz works in a venerable tradition of photographic prowling that bets everything on the ordinary. Each picture is the fruit of an unplanned encounter: Though the photographer may know more or less where he is going, he can’t know precisely what he will find. An accumulation of these improvised perceptions can make both a world and a way of looking at it. Superior craft need not play a role in this achievement, but in Steinmetz’s case it does. The precision with which his pictures render a wisp of hair, or a wrinkle of cloth, or the golden light (in black-and-white!) is at once a vehicle of careful observation and a metaphor for patient attention. It lends an aura of delicacy to the scenes without figures, of which there are quite a few for a photographer who is so frankly devoted to people. It’s tempting to say that Steinmetz’s places have personalities.
“I want to show something of people’s inner lives. I think for portraiture you have to be completely certain that you are interested in photographing this or that person. You can’t be wishy-washy in your motivation. You just have to know that you want to photograph this person and it’s a kind of knowing that eradicates any asking of “why?” My approach is fairly low-key. I don’t want to make waves. I’ll just ask something like “Can I photograph you as you are?” Sometimes I’ll give a little direction like “look over that way” but it’s never elaborate. Having an ability to focus and concentrate is necessary for making good portraits.”
Mark Steinmetz from an interview on Conscientius
Works Overview by Mark Steinmetz
Berlin Special Edition Prints by Mark Steinmetz
Works: Berlin by Mark Steinmetz
Works: South Central by Mark Steinmetz