I first met Mark in an Alterra coffee shop. The table I chose to sit at was far from the windows. Mark politely asked if we could relocate to a sunnier side of the coffee shop. After we relocated, Mark told me that he is “solar powered,” he draws his energy from sunlight, and light is very important to him. As I looked through some of his work, I could tell why: Mark is a talented photographer who places high importance on patterns of light and shadow. He has shared this light and talent with the Gathering in a number of ways over the past few years.
Mark has been involved in story-telling with the Gathering, offering his gifts and also volunteering with the Gathering’s breakfast program through his church, St. Mark’s Episcopal. Many of the beautiful photographs on our website and annual report were only possible because he volunteered his professional talents.
Mark told me, “You have to have a connection with your subject in order to photograph well.” Mark connects to different individuals and tries to capture each person’s experience in his photographs. In a society that has a tendency to stereotype and create groups, it is especially important for Mark to demonstrate unique personalities in his work. Mark told me, “Many people believe the homeless all have the same story, but everyone has a separate, distinct and interesting story. Through the photography I want to honor each individual.”
Mark appreciates the Gathering for the unique atmosphere it brings. By providing choice in meals and services as needed, the Gathering is able to individualize the experience for guests. Through this individualization and the respect and dignity the Gathering offers, we hope to be able to listen to and appreciate our guests’ stories and that, as Mark puts it, “is an amazing gift.”