My name is Mark de Paola, I’m a director and photographer living in New York City. I have a small manhattan studio with amazing natural light, as it turns out, both during the day and at night. With nearly unobstructed views to the south, natural light cycles through a beautiful presentation from dawn to dusk and back again.
One night, during a full moon, a pattern from the windows was cast in such a way that I picked up my Leica M240. It is always at the ready, set at F1 and on “A” for my first exposure, as I first view the cameras interpolations of the scene before my manual settings to follow. On this particular night, I picked up the camera to capture the light and innocently released the shutter and was given the exposure of 60 seconds at F1. I had two choices: put the camera back on the work table or make an attempt at holding the camera steady for the 60 seconds presented. I chose the latter.
The result of that first exposure lead to a nearly year long journey of the “60 Seconds” series, each image handheld at 60 seconds at F1.
At the completion of the first 60 second exposure, which seemed like an eternity, I had to wait an equal 60 seconds while the Leica M240 processed the image, revealing a somewhat, for me, shocking result. It was a very painterly image, somehow simultaneously capturing the past and the present. I was immediately struck by the paradox of using such a current, highly evolved digital tool to render such a classic image. An overwhelming feeling of responsibility came over me, both to my craft and to myself. As a commercial photographer and director, I am required to execute the ideas, concepts, and stories of others. On this night, I realized that this story was mine.
Over the next eight or nine months, I explored my story, arranging to shoot whenever I could between a busy work and travel schedule. I started making prints and preparing the “60 Seconds” portfolio. Among the first to see this portfolio were Sean and Diana Cranor, who with their wealth of knowledge and taste, I felt would give an honest appraisal of the work. They were also shocked by the results from the Leica M240. To their knowledge images like mine had never been pursued in this manner. They encouraged me to keep shooting and share the results with Alex Ramos, Gallery Director at Leica Store San Francisco.
Alex Ramos was also intrigued and urged me to continue shooting. During each trip to the west coast, I would bring new additions to the portfolio to show the Leica Store team. I was struck, given how I usually think of art as a singular effort, by how my experience with this project was more a group effort. With the support of Leica’s Sean and Diana, and the curatorial efforts of Alex, the 60 Seconds show was born.
Alex felt immediately upon seeing the prints I presented that the images needed to be large. In fact, very large. I was showing Alex artist proof prints that were thirteen by nineteen inches and, through Alex’s continued urging, came to produce images 24 by 36 inches, and some even 40 by 60 inches.
I feel fortunate to have such a knowledgeable, tasteful, and supportive artistic team as we present the “60 Seconds” series now at Leica Store San Francisco. I thank Alex, Sean and Diana, and I thank my good fortune that I did not put down the camera but instead trusted it to guide me on this difficult, challenging, and personal artistic journey.