photo of the day 3/2/2012 - photo © Mark I Chester
photo of Mark Rice 2007
I am posting this portrait of Mark Edward Rice in honor of his birthday. I know this is not one of Mark's favorite photographs of himself but it is one of my favorite photographs of him. I first got to know Mark when he sent me an email and asked if I would photograph him, after warning me that he had a mental illness. My response was, 'Well it depends on what the mental illness is." I mean, if he was a psychotic serial killer, I'd pass. ;) But it was nothing like that. More garden variety bi-polar with other various dysfunctions and a verbal stutter and a "hoot" that had been created by medications that were given to him to make him more stable mentally.
I didn't know what to expect and Mark was a hoot, both metaphorically and literally, every few words interrupted by Mark verbally hooting. It was an experience but it surprisingly didn't take long before Mark's wry view of the universe and the beings that inhabit it and his humor came shining through. Where another photographer had photographed Mark extensively, making him personally disappear through the use of alternative identities and costumes, I wanted the *real* Mark, whatever that was. I think it touched Mark that I was interested in him, not in using him as clay to populate my own twisted fantasies.
I love the color tonalities of this image, the lighting on the backdrop and the upward perspective of the camera. It gives Mark this monumental appearance. Not exactly the boy next door, but then he's far more interesting to me than any real boy next door. How he has come through his journey with any semblance of normality is beyond me. Plus, he loves photography. Searches it out, collects it and then donates it. It's a bit cracked to be honest, but then who amongst us isn't a bit cracked? I can think of far worse habits than to spend your money on male and homoerotic photographic art and then donating it to museums. Happy Birthday, Mark!