Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Why I Continue with The Memorial Lights...

As The Memorial Lights emerge from the well traveled cardboard box where they have been solemnly stored since the Nashville AMTC in September of 2014, I sometimes wonder why I keep doing this and what does it mean, as the installation has continued to grow in size and strength. To be honest, I have not had as much time this past year to think about the lights and their message, as my travels have indeed proven that the earth IS in fact round. But on the evening of June 26th as the sun set, after a thunderstorm had rolled through Littleton CO, and those little electronic tea lights were again placed in the hands of family members and dedicated volunteers, it quickly reminded me why I keep doing this. And why I strive to make it a little more special with each appearance.

The Air Medical Memorial site, with its sunrise ceremony and the group of dedicated volunteers involved, have always had a very organic nature to it. In the absence of future bricks and mortar, other elements are in place to quietly recognize our fallen members of the US and International air medical community. This year I again asked my good friend and faithful member of the air medical community Greg Hildenbrand, to lend us his talents and perform his original score of Never Forget on site as he did in Nashville. Shortly after Greg agreed to play, I came across an expression that seems to ring true, (author unknown) and I shared it with him. "Art is how we decorate space, Music is how we decorate time."  Thank you so very, very much Greg for all that you do, your heartfelt performance was once again essential to the Lights.

The AMM site and ceremonies are a unique mix of technology, tradition, and nature. During the Memorial Lights appearance, there is the gentle moan of cars on the freeway near the site, as the single aircraft from Flight For Life Colorado** lands and powers down, all are then mixed in with the strength of the hills to the west, the silent sunset and emerging stars in the sky. The next morning, the rising sun, emerging cloud formations, the sound of Steve and Kevin Sweeney, (founders of the Air Medical Memorial and Ceremony), important volunteer Christina quietly setting chairs out at 4am, the dew on the grass of the landing zones, the Honor Guard rehearsing, the wildflowers near the flagpole area and the chirps of birds...all add to my experience when I then later carefully photograph the ceremony.

Why do I continue to do this? I was told by a close friend in this community, I could be one of the ones with the least amount to give, that gives so much to this industry. I have often thought about that immense compliment, and sometimes I admit I’m blindly lead by both economically unfeasible artistic aspirations (like I photograph at Burning Man; and now have just confirmed; I will be doing again this year...), as well as always searching for a unique way to highlight the American and other international commercial support of my professional photography services back to the air-medical industry.

Though I may not own an air-medical program or be a corporate leader in this community, I feel a deep responsibility that I have my own tremendous amount of artistic expression to give, that perhaps others may not have (or know they have…) and I am simply utilizing my vision as an artist to assist in helping others in crafting a solemn, but powerful message of remembrance, family support, and safety.

For those who not have taken in the Air Medical Memorial ceremony, the past few years have seen its schedule combined to initiate a "Weekend of Tribute" in Colorado, that the National Emergency Medical Services Memorial Service (NEMS-MS) begins its three days of recognition. Once the AMM is complete on Friday morning, and we all have enjoyed breakfast and an essential afternoon nap, many of us travel south to Colorado Springs to greet the riders of the NEMS-MS Bike Ride that night. This event embraces the families of lost American EMS personnel, both Ground and Air, assisting them in a special way to note their loss, both in a casual family themed setting and a very formal service on the Saturday night. This year I had the honor and privilege to be a designated photographer of the three day event, and those public images will be shared soon. The extended timeline also allows me to meet and greet some family members, listening to their stories, and even asking their own thoughts about the Memorial Lights. Interestingly, most families insist that their loved ones' light remain in the box, as early on I personally believed many would want to take them home…

The NEMS-MS also entrusted me with capturing the very private family moments of receipt of a rose, medal, flag and a whispered thank you from a very special EMS honor guard; noting those images will only be shared with the family. The NEMS-MS is moving to DC next year, and initiating the National Parks process of creating a future monument in the US Capital. I hope I can continue to assist them, (even as a Canadian... #the1000milerule) with my vision in the future.


**Sadly I must note, that as I was finishing up this blog piece to be posted, tragedy struck Flight for Life CO on July 3rd. One of their aircraft suddenly crashed immediately after take-off, the Pilot was killed, and one of the two crew seriously injured. Of course the NTSB is now investigating, but again the air-medical community is heartbroken. This also then places David, one of my Colorado friends in this community, in the position of adding one of his colleagues names to a Memorial Light. Just as I know Alex and Temple, who originally assisted me three years ago...also had to do. Something I also personally fear I may be faced to do, the next time that I open that old cardboard box to set out the lights.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Memorial Lights Project at Air Medical Memorial's Remembrance Ceremony, June 25th, 2015


The Memorial Lights Project Emerges at the Future Site of the Air Medical Memorial in Littleton, CO
Photographer, Mark Mennie's solemn tribute to Air Medical's fallen heroes opens the 2015 AMM Remembrance Ceremony at sunset, June 25th

June 22, 2015- Returning for a third year,  The Memorial Lights Ceremony will quietly open the  2015 Air Medical Memorial’s two day Remembrance Ceremony, taking place June 25-26, 2015 at the future site of the Air Medical Memorial (AMM) in Littleton, CO (10901 West Toller Drive, Littleton, CO 80127). Mark Mennie, of Mark Mennie Photography, is the artist and mastermind behind the simple visual tribute to air medical community’s fallen heroes.

This installation will emerge at the AMM site, Thursday, June 25th at sunset. The traveling memorial is composed of almost 400 modest flickering tea lights, which are solemnly placed by hand recognizing the sacrifices given to the air medical industry since the early 1970’s. After much brainstorming a moving reflection emerged that honored the 385 line-of-duty deaths, both nationally and internationally since the 1980‘s. The Air Medical Memorial’s mission, as well as a complete schedule of events and in depth directions can be found at www.weekendoftribute.org.  

The Memorial Lights installation first debuted in 2013, at the inaugural  Air Medical Memorial event. Both the AMM site and coinciding beneficiary events were started and continue to be driven by the selfless brother team of Steven and Kevin Sweeney. The Lights have since traveled across the country becoming a much anticipated reflection and integral part of not only the  Air Medical Memorial’s outreach, but the Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS) annual Air Medical Transport Conference as well. Growing in size and following, this year’s installation will feature an appearance from Flight for Life Colorado and the poignant music and live performance from  the air medical community’s own, Greg Hildenbrand. His original score Never Forget is a beautiful tribute to those lives lost. 

“As a long time AAMS Memorial Room participant and member of the AMMS CPR Committee, I had this growing feeling that additional artistic support should be created for all the heroes in our industry that have lost their lives. I have always envisioned some sort of visual statement that not only moved the core of others, highlighted the AAMS Memorial Room, noted the future site of the AMM project, but also gave back to all my friends, old colleagues, new recruits and family members in the medevac community. Working closely with organizations such as the Survivors Network, only focused my desire to create a unique memorial of light and was glad to collaborate with many like minds throughout the worldwide air medical “family”. My goal would be for this installation to travel and grow in it’s simple styling and powerful grass-roots nature and message, invoking volunteers and family members to place and reflect about each light representing a hero and spreading compassion, and empathy, as well as a unique visual cue to the industry on safety”, says Mennie.

The Air Medical Memorial’s mission can be found at www.airmedicalmemorial.com, and a complete detailed schedule of events and directions can be found at www.weekendoftribute.orgClick here for more on The Memorial Lights and its impact.

Spanning the globe, Mark Mennie is an acclaimed commercial photographer, who has been specializing in rotary wing aviation photography for over 20 years. Unique in his field and approach, Mark is renowned for creating an accurate and artistic portrayal of aviation based medical evacuation and critical care patient transport.  Mennie is a member of numerous affiliations as well as serving in the past on the board of the Medevac Foundation International. In addition to this moving project, Mennie also volunteers his time to various air medical groups such as the Survivors’ Network, the European Helicopter and Air Ambulance Committee and the 2016 Dubai Helishow. 

Mark Mennie Photography is represented by CDL Communications, all questions and requests can be directed to Charli LeGette, charli@cdlcommunications.com or 832-752-1948. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

My "Pet" Project takes Flight....

Dear readers,

I would like to begin with many thanks for all your compliments, sharing, and support of all my endeavors.

The night of December 31st, as I bid farewell to an extreme 2014, I was spent setting up a traditional public showing of my Dog Beach imagery. A long time in the making and driven by my continuous urge of artistic pursuits (like why I keep going to Burning Man, not because I like eating dust… ), what started out as time to clear my head finally received some recognition. And it all started with the walks on the beach that I would take when spending time in Del Mar, walks that brought forth countless photo opportunities with my old iPhone4. 

My first capture (Magenta Sunset 2011) started it all. It lead me to download the ProCamera App and Filterstorm App as recommended by another photographer in Dubai. This app was game changing for me as it started capturing what I saw, even better. I have to admit, I was also taunted by a couple of pro photographers, who described their smartphone cameras as crappy or no good. I set out to prove them wrong. Maybe it ain’t the camera buddy...

The basic “secret” to ProCamera App is the separation of the focus and exposure button, into two separate settings. The Filterstorm App merely provided me a simple way to straighten (Yes-I cannot always hold my camera level), then crop, (not always, I crop when I am shooting, its called get up out of the sand and move your position), fine tune the exposure, (but not a lot, as Del Mar sunsets can be spectacular) and add a watermark (important these days-maybe). I do no photoshop re-illustration or cheap/dorky/dumb/outdated “filters” like Instagram allows amateurs to step into. 

The light is the light, and if you don’t get the right light, then maybe "don’t post a bad photo…kid". Go back the next day….eh. Can you tell I don’t like that 70’s look filter? We will look back at this decade and do facepalms, realizing amateurs wrecked a lot of their great photos.  

All of this is done at the beach on an image, while my subject is standing there with their wet dog, before they head back to their car.

This process did take time to perfect, but I wanted to see the reactions of people when I showed them my iPhone screen, once they walked over to see “what I got”. It did even lead to aTV interview last January, that aired on Feb 13th in the San Diego area. Ironically the same day I was in Quill Lake Saskatchewan, giving a difficult eulogy at my dear cousin Vern’s funeral. Like I blogged earlier, "A year of extremes….”

So, encouraged by Del Mar friends Sandy and Kevin, I started asking a few local galleries if they would consider displaying my work. Pannikin Coffee and Tea, located in Encinitas on the PCH, offered me the month of January 2015. I approached my “local” photo lab, Photo Shack in Las Vegas, run by a great guy called Lel, to do some testing with large prints from my old iPhone 4. www.psprolab.com For those photographers reading this (I know you are….) the biggest issue we found was “over sharpening by the iPhone 4 and some digital noise”, however the fact that it does not capture well in low light, actually makes for a better silhouette. Lel printed some of my images 44 inches (1.2meters) wide and then laminated them. His care and attention deserves a huge shout out, and to the aforementioned photographers, I suggest you go with him if you need something custom inkjet printed, personally supervised and then shipped with care.  

The show looks great in this unique and busy setting, that used to be a former Santa Fe train station. The large laminated prints are holding up well, as the large wooden freight room doors they are pinned on, are always open because it is always nice in California, so they are exposed to a lot of humidity, a few birdys, alota people, and the ocean is close. Elements that obviously would make many of my readers jealous. I apologize in advance, as I am trying to get this posting done quickly today so I can head to the beach...

So that is the basics of my show, please drop in if you are in the area, or perhaps I could give a personal tour at Pannikin if you buy me a coffee. Please let me know if there is some snowbound place in North Dakota or even north of that, that might be interested in displaying my iPhone beach captures. 

Warm Regards from CA


Sunday, January 4, 2015

A very extreme year......

Dear friends and beloved followers of Following Mark Mennie,

For starters I apologize for my extreme radio silence lately.....

2014 has no doubt been a year up extreme ups and downs with an amazing amount of travel, both on a state and internationally. My year started with HeliExpo in California, and a few days later I showed up for the Outrider's tryouts. Then in early spring, I criss crossed the great state of Tennessee to cover and capture 5 AMTC host programs, for the Nashville event that was held in late September. In June, I revisited my beloved Roma and I walked the streets that the ancient Romans once walked and befriended a few new ones at one particular restaurant. I then circled the world with a trip to Australia to shoot a great project for CareFlight. After wrapping that project, I went directly onto my cherished Dubai to help the organizers of the Helishow 2014. I then ended my crazy year of travel shooting The Outriders and Drill Crew Calendars, another collaboration with my best buddy Waldy Martens. It was a lot of work and one technical hiccup, but all and all went very well.  I celebrated all the hard work with the Stampeders' Grey Cup win in Vancouver with the Outriders. What a season and what a year.

I lost two family members and one great photo friend. Unfortunately, I have to found out that yet another Calgary photo buddy passed away on January 1st.  

I was again a Burner at my 8th Burning Man, but this year I was officially designated by the BMorg to capture imagery for the event. This accreditation had its advantages for early access, and also recognition that you are just not another person with a camera. A claim second only to "I'm a DJ"… I was honored to be asked portray the organization professionally through my lens, and I never missed a sunrise on the playa the whole time I was there. 

Through these events and a very emotional filled year I probably shot 20,000 plus frames. This could also be measured as almost a terabyte in edited and saved imagery, and a few technical issues as well. 

My projects were extremely varied and my sleep and eating habits matched it too.

My visuals illustrated a couple new video projects that were created by Jean Levasseur of PHOCUS Productions,  which were all well received by our clients. I love the merging of imagery, music and ideas

My last photographic action on December 31st, was to hang my first showing of large prints, from my 2 years of Dog Beach iPhone captures, at a very popular coffee house in Encinitas, California. The last time I exhibited was in 2009, my Altawan series in DC. 

So as I conclude this "all over the map" year (both literally and figuratively), what are my goals for 2015?!?! Both personal and career?!?!?

BALANCE - Personally.
BALANCE in my day to day life. A BALANCE that has now escaped me for years.

GAINS - in Business.
To cultivate and grow the GAINS I made in 2013 + 2014, as well as incurring new GAINS in 2015.

GROWTH - Artistically
I hope to make the Memorial Lights in Colorado and the AMTC, a bigger unique visual presence. 

And to take my Burning Man project I have proposed for years, and make it a reality. 

and SHARE - My Experiences
To certainly post a lot more on social media and my blog.

To keep making it happening in Dubai. The World Expo 2020, is right around the corner.

To hopefully continue to grow my visual influence with the Outriders and the Drill Crew. 

To simply share a pint with Greg Williams my high school biology teacher and catch up with a few others from my past. 

To return to Australia and attend the Air medical conference in Darwin. 

Someday I hope to return to Jo'burg, Roma and Wildhorse as well.

To someday again simply icefish with my Saskatchewan cousins as well.  

To continue to spend more time with my family. Honor thy Parents. 

And lastly to find a little more time for me, whether that be travel, sleep, or a new hobby. Something to spark my creativity and make me a better artist.

Happy New Year to all! 

Until next time....