High school didn’t offer much to Mark Rubenstein, until he stumbled on a photography class and discovered a way to unleash the power of his creativity. In the years since, he has built his life around a search for potent images and has collaborated with Huck on a number of great projects.
His personal work focusses on the journey from youth to adulthood, and the development of self during that period. He grew up fascinated by how great directors like Steven Spielberg represented young people on film, but the captivating way he uses natural light more echoes the work of Terrence Malick. Mark is presenting a solo-exhibition of his work with A Light At The End Of The Road at Hemingway and Pickett, 3208 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles. It runs until April 30, 2014 and the opening party is April 17 from 7-9pm.
How did you get your start in photography?
I was a terrible student in high school, I failed almost every class and was in summer school every year. I really felt it was just a waste of time for me. I looked around at the older kids around me and saw that they were skateboarding and shooting photos. I felt a connection with them and saw that my high school had a photo class. I decided to sign up and it changed my life. I saw the potential beyond academics and realised the power of creativity. It was what I had always been searching for. I started my journey with photography at 16 and now at 30 it is my career.
Could you explain the new show and your books?
My upcoming show is the culmination of the past three years of work. In that time I have released two books, Gone By Dawn and A Light At The End of The Road which I will be releasing in conjunction with the show.
The work deals with the idea of progression of self from youth to adulthood. It tells the story of growing up, how painful and beautiful it can be. I have created my own world over the years where I stage my photography; these kids are in a endless dream. Movies shaped who I was when I was a kid and they are a direct influence on the images that I create. For me, directors like Spielberg craft worlds that explore the ideas of youth within a world of imagination. I use the visual references of light I saw in these movies to help me construct mine.
The show is comprised of images that I have made in the span of these past years and is presented as a installation. Most people have not seem my images in physical form before so I’m excited to present the work to a widespread audience. My friend Hayden Tobin who has been on tour with Hanni El Khatib will be doing music for the night. This should be one to remember.
Things That Inspire Me
1. Los Angeles
I came to this city after having lived in New York on and off since I was a teenager. To me it is one of the most inspiring places I have ever lived. I think seeing the golden light of Southern California transformed my work from being primarily a studio photographer to only shooting natural light. Los Angeles holds so much history, I read about it as a kid in books like On The Road and the dream of coming to California has been instilled in me for a very long time. In the six years that I have lived here I have been homeless, lived with junkies and given everything I have to try to survive. There have been a lot of ups and downs, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I have been able to pursue the dream that’s been with me since that first photo class.
2. Colour Film
I have strived to continue the tradition of using colour negative film to produce my body of work. I was taught the methods of photography without the advent of digital technology. It’s only recently that I have learned to use what is so widely available now. I still believe in the power of film and the magic that it can create.
I have constantly been influenced by the creativity of skateboarding since I was a little kid. I would say my favourite skate film is Alien Workshop Photosynthesis. It was amazing to see the visuals they created within the constructs of a skate video. The music and nostalgia that makes its up is what I try to capture in my photography. I will always remember having that orange VHS tape. I’ve been lucky to document skateboarding with Huck over the years.
4. The People That I Photograph
The models I use are the people that make up my life. They inspire the stories that I tell. My work is a document of my life and these individuals in each image are all unique in their own way. I have used my friends who are amazing artists, girlfriends and other subjects that I have encountered over time. They work in a close bond with me to form powerful lasting images.