Image Detail: Mark Coggins, Communion with a Seal, 2017

An Interview with Mark Coggins

Mark Coggins is an exhibiting artist in PCNW’s 23rd annual juried exhibition, curated by Kris Graves.


Communion with a Seal, 2017
Archival pigment print
Edition of 45
$400
Please contact Erin Spencer at espencer@pcnw.org with questions or to purchase.



Tell us about yourself, where you’re from, and when you first discovered your love of photography.

I’m a crime fiction writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ve been interested in photography for a long time. I had a darkroom with a friend in grade school where I developed and printed pictures I took with an old 35mm Bolsey rangefinder camera my father gave me, but didn’t really get serious about it until my mid-30’s when I took a view camera class with Mark Citret. You can read more about me and my photography in this interview on the All About Photo website.

Tell us about the work that was selected to be included in Distinction by Kris Graves. 

The image was taken at the Aquarium Kaiyukan in Osaka, Japan. It shows a “decisive moment” when father, daughter and seal were communing with one another.

Is the selected work part of a larger body of work?

My late wife Linda and I visited Japan in 2017 for my 60th birthday. This is part of a series of images I took on the trip.

Who / what are your biggest influences?

I’ve taken a number of classes and workshops with Mark Citret. While Mark is primarily a large-format photographer and I was initially interested in large format as well, I’ve evolved into more of “street photographer” using digital 35mm equivalents. However, I believe the training in large format has given me a deeper appreciation of composition, depth of field and exposure that is quite beneficial in making my images.

Are you making work in response to the current pandemic?

The shelter in place rules in effect for the Bay Area have led me to experiment with self-portraiture. I’ve attached an example I call “Inner Journey.” I have also been taking solo walks in a nearby cemetery, making images I’ve processed to look as if they were done with a large format wet plate process. I’ve attached them here:

PCNW’s annual juried call for entry provides exhibition opportunities for artists and directly supports our programs, scholarships, and labs at PCNW. This helps ensure access to photography for many future generations of creatives. We know you have many options for submitting your work, so please tell us why you chose PCNW? What are your thoughts and experience with submitting your work to different calls?

I visited the gallery on trips to Seattle and have been impressed with the exhibits on display and what I’ve learned about the overall mission and focus of the Center. I was also excited to submit to an exhibition juried by Kris Graves.

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