Mark Segal – ChatterArtist December 2012

Naturally this month our ChatterArtist is going to be a Sagittarius, and I happen to know several photographers born under this sign, but the one I selected is such a perfect fit, and you’ll see why. Mark Segal, and I have known one another for a long time, back from when I worked with American Showcase and Archive Magazine. I have seen Mark’s work evolve over the years, and his business change through both desire and necessity, yet all with one consistent thread – his innate ability to “see” the bigger picture. Sagittarius is the sign that says, “I see, I see so much, where do I start first?” You’ve heard of the expression when someone is said to “not see the forest for the trees” – well, in Sagittarius’ case (and Mark’s) they do see the forest, they see the bigger picture – literally.

The DC Band © Mark Segal

And why is that, you might be asking? Well, The ruling planet of Sagittarius is Jupiter, the planet of expansion, higher learning and wisdom. Just look at the size of it – it’s the largest planet in our Solar System! How does this relate to Mark? Mark has been interested in and shooting Panoramas for years! It’s one of his specialties! So if that isn’t a classic example of someone who “sees the bigger picture” I don’t know what is! But how did it all start?

Mark began his photographic career in 1982 in Washington, DC, after giving up his job as a construction manager on the DC Metro subway system (leave that job for the Capricorn!). By this time he had already been experimenting with big old Cirkut cameras and was shooting in unusual places all around the DC area, whilst learning the issues of lighting, composing, motion, and people, all with a slowly rotating large format system.

Chicago Aerial © Mark Segal

Two years later came the big move to the “windy” city of Chicago, where Mark has been based ever since. Having discovered his love of Panoramics, he proceeded to shoot samples, stock and portfolio work for the next three years. Then, after a painful divorce, Mark threw himself even more into his work and started the photo library Panoramic Images, with his brother Doug, as well as Skypan, an aerial panoramic business. Mark says he took on a whole new level seriousness and devotion by being creatively different, and learning better business practices.

Mt. St. Michelle © Mark Segal

Another love of the Sagittarius is traveling. Not little trips like the Gemini prefers, but longer trips to far-off places. And yes, Mark has definitely done his fair share of long-distance travel to far-off places. I also know this to be true since many years ago we traveled together for a couple of weeks in South Africa. Talk about “seeing the bigger picture!”

Elephant © Mark Segal

I have never seen such breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, horizons and skies as I did in Africa – they literally went on forever. They say Africa is God’s Country, and it is. Pure Panoramic Bliss! So during the late 80’s and most of the 90’s, Mark traveled the globe and spent months developing and building relationships with new clients, such as Mon Tresor, Samsung, SAA and Hilton, all the while finding different applications for “Pans” without “Polaroid’s,” which required a large amount of trust on the client’s side! In 1991 Mark totally maxed out his traveling by shooting a total of 12 Annual Reports – crazy – and one year he went back and forth to Japan 3 times – imagine all the frequent flyer miles he must have accrued that year… ah, the good old days…

Sage Software © Mark Segal

So fast-forward a few years as we leave the 90’s and Mark was preparing to pursue another long-time passion, that of the movie business. However, after producing a couple of features and several spots, 9/11 hit and funding opportunities for future projects disappeared. So he stayed with stills, shooting stock whenever there were gaps in the assignment work, all the while continuing to promote Panoramics as one of his specialties. At the same time, Mark was also pursuing his remote control helicopter experimentation with digital video, then stills, and then remote control 360-degree pans. At this point he had also remarried, not surprisingly to a beautiful woman from another country, Cinzia is originally from Italy, and they now have two beautiful daughters, Sara and Alina.

Tiny Planet New York City © Mark Segal

Ironically, one of Mark’s newer galleries on his website is called “Tiny Planets!” Not very Jupiterian, but it’s a very cool 360 degree perspective and almost reminds me of Christmas decorations and snow globes! And, little did Mark know that shooting 360-degree images like this ties us right back into Astrology and the 360-degree circle!

Louisa J. Curtis