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Keep still and, if possible, don’t even breathe – for a whole minute that is: for his new 60 Seconds series, photographer and director Mark de Paola took all the pictures with an exposure time of 60 seconds – and without using a tripod. The outcome is abstract figures, flowing forms and poetic compositions. The series will remain on display at the Leica Store San Francisco, up until February 21. Within the framework of the exhibition, there will be a reception attended by the artist on January 14.

How did you get into photography?

I was born into a photographic family. My father was a photographer and my mother a model. My earliest recollections were of sitting on a studio floor looking through books and magazines absorbing the imagery. I was given a camera when I was twelve and began shooting, processing and printing my own black and white and colour film. Of course, studying became a priority in high school and college until, while studying international law, I witnessed the film students at USC having much more fun. First I went into the motion picture business, working in the camera department, but very quickly switched to stills, my first assignment being a magazine cover of famed actor Henry Fonda.

How did you get the idea for the 60 Seconds series?

I didn’t really get the idea, the idea was presented to me in the form of a union between myself and a camera, a tool, in the form of the Leica M240. I picked up the camera in the middle of the night, figuring I’d take a picture with the lens at f/1, and the setting at A. I innocently pushed the button and it displayed 60 seconds. I had two choices: to put the camera down, or to hold it as steadily as I could to the completion of the camera’s interpolation of the scene. I took a few more exposures that night, did a bit of research the next day and learned that the Leica M240’s maximum exposure time is 60 seconds. Thus, the 60 Seconds series was born. It was not pre-meditated, it was discovered. 

In which ways have paintings influenced your photography?

I am specifically influenced by the work of Mark Rothko. When you witness my work, which I hope you will in person, much of the show represents a blend between Rothko’s fields of colour and influences from the cinema.

What are your next projects?

There are two major projects slated for 2016. On the cinema side, a motion picture called Proof Film, which is about the struggle, conflict, and need to do the right thing and make the right choices. The film touches on the history of Leica. My next photographic series is called Point of Focus, a study of the emotion created when things are rendered out of focus.

Mark de Paola

Mark de Paola was born in a photo studio – quite literally. He was given his first camera when he was twelve. His first assignment was a portrait of Henry Finda for a magazine cover. Paola commutes between New York, Los Angeles and Milan for his campaigns, photo spreads and other assignments. In addition to photography he also works from time to time as a film director.

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