50 States in 30 Days-An interview with Mark Chilvers-Photographer

Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013

Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013

Mark Chilvers started as a photographer with The Independent in 1998. Since then he’s not only shot numerous assignments for the Indy and Sindy ( Independent on Sunday) but has developed a real taste for travel reportage photography and portraiture to boot. Clients include The Guardian Weekend, The Observer, The Independent, Time magazine, Stern and The Times. He’s constantly working on new ventures and interesting side projects as well.

Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013

Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013

Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013

Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013

Earlier this year, Mark in collaboration with Jonathan Thompson, a writer and Chris MacDonald, a film-maker took on the rather absurd notion of shooting all of the USA’s 50 states in 30 days for American Airlines.

Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013

Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013

They were tasked to deliver a daily blog of their adventures, which can be found here. They called it United States of Adventure, which is as good a tagline as any for promoting how interesting the US is as a country.

Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013

Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013

On top of shooting tons of very diverse situations, instagramming like crazy and filing the blog everyday. Mark found time to work on a side project where he’d shoot portraits of people in front of a backdrop that he dragged all over the states.

Jeff Roberts,25, crew trainer, Space Camp, Huntsville, Alabama (Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013)

Jeff Roberts,25, crew trainer, Space Camp, Huntsville, Alabama (Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013)

Wayne Werner, Prices crab shack, Harve de Grace, Maryland (Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013)

Wayne Werner, his home, Harve de Grace, Maryland (Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013)

It’s not the first time that a photographer has shot in front of a backdrop and included all the detail around the backdrop, but here it does seem to work really well. Ask yourself this, would the people in the photographs have posed the same if the backdrop wasn’t there? It was a great device for getting people involved to photograph.

Boots, 50, working cowboy, Grand Canyon Ranch, Arizona (Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013)

Boots, 50, working cowboy, Grand Canyon Ranch, Arizona (Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013)

Sheena Tigertail, 29, Miccosukee Indian, Florida (Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013)

Sheena Tigertail, 29, Miccosukee Indian, Florida (Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013)

There’s a consistency about the images which works on a few different levels, one being the humour that the photographer has brought to them. It’s a very interesting concept and I’d imagine them all printed up for an exhibition would look terrific.

Mary Ballou, 41, barmaid, Olympia, Washington (Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013)

Mary Ballou, 41, barmaid, Olympia, Washington (Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013)

Bob Folsom, 52, firefighter, Songo Pond, Bethel, Maine (Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013)

Bob Folsom, 52, firefighter, Songo Pond, Bethel, Maine (Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013)

The set ran as a cover feature in the 30th June edition of The Independent on Sunday’s New Review section.

Clarissa Brown, 25, fried-chicken waitress, Dodge's Quick Cash store, Arkansas (Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013)

Clarissa Brown, 25, fried-chicken waitress, Dodge’s Quick Cash store, Arkansas (Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013)

Harpreet Pal Singh, 49, Hotel Concierge, Times Square, New York (Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013)

Harpreet Pal Singh, 49, Hotel Concierge, Times Square, New York (Photograph courtesy: ©Mark Chilvers 2013)

I visited Mark at his studio in London and we chewed the fat over the shoot, the logistics of doing it, how the job came about, lack of sleep, hitting the wall and the madness of taking on such a crazy assignment. Plus he discusses how he’s taking the concept abroad…quite literally

Here is a link to download or listen to the interview.

There are a few background noises and a very friendly dog gets a bit protective…in a good way.

Mark Chilvers can be found here and on twitter

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