Monday, November 25, 2013

Memorial Lights....

Back in June at the future site of the Air Medical Memorial in Littleton CO and with the help and inspiration from special friends of the air medical community, Mark debuted a thought provoking artistic installation of small flickering electronic tea lights.  Each light symbolizing a life lost in the line of duty and honoring the fallen, in a quiet night setting. The vision going forward for this special project was always for it's awareness to grow, travel to every and continue to pay its respects throughout the community.  The travel focused mainly at this time on ATMC and adapting the presentation to the host city's surroundings.  At AMTC Virginia Beach this year, Mark was able to do just that.  As well as exceed all his expectations and so much more. 
As a long time coordinator of the AAMS Memorial Room, Mark always dreamed doing something more or in addition to the room of solemn reflection at a very busy conference.  Finally, with the input of several volunteers in October 2012, his ideas and thoughts came to fruition with Memorial Lights making its first appearance on the Sunday evening proceeding AMTC and with a second showing on the convention center grounds Wednesday following the conference closing. 
On Sunday evening, October 20th, Mark orchestrated the most perfect Memorial Light installation on the beach.  Through word of mouth and one printed flyer, an overwhelming crowd gathered to reflect, honor and support fellow colleagues and the community as a whole.  A soft humbling musical backdrop was created with a collaboration of Mark’s three talented friends from across the country. It seemed as even the moon received the invite as it magically rose out of the Atlantic, glowing orange as attendees began to gather.  Below are lyrics to a touching song Never Forget written by Greg Hildenbrand, which called for the refrain to be sung in unison.  The melodic harmonies of the crowd as well as the waves crashing resulted in creating a more than memorable ending as so many different programs came together to pay their respects. 
Wednesday night’s gathering took a bit of a different turn given the recent and very unfortunate tragedy in Tennessee the day before.  Mark, working with his volunteers, asked those gathering to take a few lights from their storage box, read and think about the names and place them as they wished in a small park area on the grounds the convention hall. Three new tea lights, and a folded flag became the focal point as a special statement was read in their honor.  Bagpipes played Amazing grace in the background, and attendees viewed the lights as they walked among them, some knelt to read the names, others took photos. Fighter jets from the local Airbase occasionally roared above but perhaps they were no match for the silent message being presented. 
THANK YOU AND A WORD FROM MARK MENNIE: The Memorial Lights would not have been possible without all the support, assistance, creativity, hoop jumping, and love of some very special people.  A big huge THANK YOU to Alex Farnsworth, Temple Fletcher who were there at the start in Denver, then our local support from EMS Chief Ed Brazel and the city of Virginia Beach.Thank you Blair Beggan for your support, assistance and guidance. Musicians Craig Yale, Greg Hildenbrand, Tom Judge, Bagpiper Officer Bradley Canning. Thank you Kolby Kolbert for reading the message from TN, Tim Pickering for your insight, and Tim Nixon for your beautiful writing found here.  Also a thank you to Charli LeGette and Jean Levasseur for assisting behind the scenes in making a simple idea a reality.    

This installation is a work in progress, and many new suggestions from attendees have been noted. Unfortunately, 4 more lights have been added again last week. 

In addition my request for a "special case" to hold the lights in honor as they travel has been noted and I hope that design discussion will begin shortly. The capacity of this case is perhaps the greatest challenge this project will have. 

The Memorial Lights will appear again, in Nashville TN, September 21st, 2014 at sunset. 

Until next time....

Charli (& Mark Mennie) 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Long overdue 2013 AMTC Recap.....

Almost a month out we are finally getting around to filling everyone in on our AMTC Virginia Beach experiences.....many apologies but things have been just as hectic and productive post than pre & during.  Between follow ups, editing for Mark, some much need R & R, and regrouping & organizing we have been on the go! 

Although the week was a bit of a blur for us all, the conference was very successful for Mark Mennie Photography and our entire team.  For starters it was nice to have OUR TEAM reunited…. Our newly restructured and rarely all in the same place at the same time team consists Mark, myself and our Montreal based videographer, Jean Levasseur of PHOCUS Productions.  Or as Jean apply named us the tripod in reference to our home coordinates on the North American Continent.  That is when Mark is sitting still in Calgary which we all know is VERY rare!

AMTC is a project that Mark basically works with AAMS on all year long.  Starting this past Spring, Mark began shooting the host programs in their elements to accurately depict the host city and the air medical community that serves the greater Virginia area.  The imagery captured, is then what AAMS uses for promotion leading up to the event and also what Jean uses to create magic in his Monday Morning Session Opener, which sets the mood for the entire conference.  This year both knocked it out of the park and their artistry was quite the talk on the streets!      

In addition to all the pre-work and preparations, all three of us were constantly busing reuniting with old friends and colleagues and connecting with new as well as Mark and Jean covering the show with their photography and videography talents.  I could go on and on about all the events and activities of the week, but I will let Mark and Jean’s work speak for itself below. 

Until Next Time….


Sidebar: Mark unveiled two amazing Memorial events while in Virginia Beach.  Both of which are much too meaningful and touching to include in this already lengthy piece.  Stay tuned for a posting on Mark’s Memorial Lights Installation.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Canadian Lets Loose in Rome......

Back in July, Mark had the honor of attending EHAC (European HEMS & Air Ambulance Committee) Scientific and Education planning meeting for the AirMed World Congress taking place in Rome in 2014.  After the Munich meeting, Mark traveled to Brno to photograph the Czech based H-EMS program Alfa Helicopter for 8 days.  Stay tuned as Alfa will be debuting those images soon. Mark was then fortunate enough able to carve out a few hours here and there to be a tourist and do what he does best.....snap breath taking vivid imagery that leaves his audiences wanting to jump a plane to Italy and definitely attract more attendees to the Congress in Roma next year.  Mark's hands on approach left him cold, wet, and dirty after one Roman thunderstorm, but I am so thankful for his devotion to taking these shots as I can almost feel the humidity in the air, squint at the sun setting behind the inspiring architecture, and savor taste of delicious red wine.  Thank you Mark for taking us all on your latest adventure.  The photographs featured here as well as many more can be found on his newly updated website under the "Travel Portfolio".  Until next time.... 


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

1,000 Days....

Dear Friends; many thanks for following my Blog edited and written by my Rep/Agent Charli; and appreciating my photos that she chooses to highlight. This post however is in my own words.

September 4th, 2013 was a milestone for me. It was my 1000th day on the road.

This journey began with me handing over my Calgary apartment keys on the morning of December 8th, 2010, and heading to the airport with my friend David Heydlauff (a real Alberta Cowboy) to co-host my booth at the Media and Marketing Show in Dubai. (here is that story...) My kitty cat “Boo” was at first fostered by a great friend in Calgary and now she resides in California with amazing friends that spoil her rotten.

I guess the best way to describe my decision to take to the road is simply two fold, yet very complicated. 

Not only am I trying to survive as specialized professional photographer, but I am also running away from hurt. Prior to November of 2010 so many of my projects kept me away from Calgary. Mix in a recession, shrinking budgets, and my heavy heart it made no sense to keep a two-bedroom apartment for my Boo. For those who are close to me, they know what else happened. When I lost her in 2009 and I had to leave DC to re-group and it left a deep hole in my soul. I suppose time heals all, but it was a very difficult personal situation for me, and so in late 2010 I chose to run and rebuild my life somehow. I would be lying if I said it still doesn’t bother me at times, but travel, work and my priceless friends and family out there helps tremendously. In all honesty that hole is very deep, turbulence sometimes hits, and my compass sometimes is unreliable. As a result I certainly don’t always photograph and post all of the moving and breathtaking things I see and experience. 

I guess deep down I wish I could have shared it with somebody special inside my circle instead of social media. At times; like us all,  I am tired and I can get really lonely. But then again that is the nature of life on the road...

I have estimated the amount of miles I traveled on planes, trains, automobiles and helicopters at about 150,000+ since. I have met so many influential and interesting people, been witness to some amazing sights, and never once have I felt I was in harms way. Many photo projects provide accommodations, so I will arrive early and stay late for my valued clients. Great friends have opened their homes for me, and many more offers from dear friends around the world are out there. I am humbled and thankful for every invitation. I try to return the these favors by fixing something around their house and returning to my days as a farm kid.  Just an FYI lighting, electricity and triaging your storage area are my specialty...

Life on the road is not always a slice however. It can start with the screams of silence at night in a lonely hotel room, only to awaken in the darkness, temporarily not knowing what state or time zone I am in.  I have no first class upgrades to brag about on FB, the crying baby is always exactly three rows behind me, and there is no apartment with a city view I can mention as “missing home”...because theoretically I am homeless. But that all pales in comparison to the new people I meet and the love and support I receive from my amazing support system of friends and family. I gamble weekly in booking flights all the while attempting to be loyal to an airline (yah right; Hertz is the only company I can count on). Another issue is managing the balance of being available for the lifeblood of some treasured annual projects (thank you), but missing out on new opportunities friends want to introduce me to, all the while Charli persistently assists me in the pursuit of new projects and challenging my old photo ideas. (I think she calls it pulling her hair out...Thank You Charli, no photos of that are attached- but it may look something like this: &^%$#@!)

Everybody is a photographer now and almost nobody is an photo editor. The visual “noise” on the internet grows as pro photographers try to regroup their stubborn ideals of traditional quality versus this decades’ growing legacy of un-critiqued quantity. Dear Canon Marketing’re not helping me...yet you continue to sell amateur cameras with pro imagery?!?! At times the 12 time zone jet lag, the road food, the haunting US-Canada visa/tax paperwork, my boyscout diligent compliance efforts, grumpy customs officers, the silent worry about over extending ones stay at a friends place, and sweating the hotel check out time as you patiently wait for a signal as to where to go next brings me down. Add to my guilt that I make my Mom worry about my safety all the time. (big sigh-I apologize Ma...big hug) well I am just.....Plain. Worn. Out. This is not a dwelling of the negativity, but an illustration of the challenges I deal with on a weekly basis.

But on the bright side and the huge potential side, I continue my travels and opportunities to meet amazing people and do projects in exotic places. A family in Dubai considers me “a friend of the family”, close friends in San Diego constantly design me into their family plans, Chicago is special, Reno has become a hub of close friends, and I am again able to savor DC and very close friends there once again. Quality time spent with my kin has become much more precious and never taken for granted.  Many of my clients invite me to fancy dinners, and so many selfless friends offer me their couch, washer/dryer, or a ride to the airport. I have the honor of being the Outriders’ Photographer and cherish all the friendships and camaraderie that has transformed (And on a side note my artistic collaboration with my best friend to create the best Cheer Calendar in the CFL or maybe the NFL I’m just saying’ has been a lot of fun to work on).  I savor each and everyone of the many opportunities I get to witness a sunset on the ocean, I have lost myself in the magic as I walked the lost streets in Roma, and felt completely empowered as I sat on the top ledges of skyscrapers in Dubai. I have the amazing privilege to fly in helicopters all the time and every time I still feel like I need to pinch myself. After 19 years of specialized airmedical photography, I have the eye and the ear of both elders and the next generation in the international Air Medical Community, which is not only an immense honor, but so very humbling as well. Many times I just put the camera down and stare out the window looking at so many varied places of this earth from a jet or a helicopter. Feels like the world is at my finger tips and in so many ways it is and for that I feel like the luckiest guy in the world.

And looking forward, as I write this from 36,000ft, I reckon I have a few more days on the road. I will try to visit Boo when I can, as I miss that little wanker. I just returned from my 8th Burning Man, and I am working hard to get a large visual project funded that I’m sure you’ll hear about as preparations for Burning Man 2014 unfold.  My professional and now official collaboration with my Videographer Jean Levasseur continues to prove advantageous as he flawlessly animates my stills to create powerful productions for our clients. I am looking forward to the AMTC in Virginia Beach, including finally getting to debut my AAMS Memorial Lights project to the airmedical community with the assistance of some special air medical friends.  I am also excited about the opportunity to present a new visual tangent to the 2014 Airmed World Congress in Rome and I am still honored to once again be assisting the organizers of the November 2014 Dubai Helishow. And all the while I promise I will get more professional imagery (but still...just the good stuff) to Charli for her to edit and post, and I encourage and appreciate your comments and support. I continue to be grateful for the priceless hospitality of my very dear friends, who continue to invite me to places I cannot spell!  Your love, support, and generosity to help to mend that hole inside of me and the courage to hopefully open up better to new friends.

Some great changes are in the works this month and beyond.  Stay tuned as Charli will announce this very soon. Regards for now.

Thank You. MM