Mark Wallace

My name is Mark

Het verhaal van Mark Wallace, een commerciele fotograaf uit de Verenigde Staten. De meeste mensen die hem kennen, kennen hem van zijn vele YouTube video’s over fotografie die hij zelf maakt voor Digital Photograpy One on One of voor Adorama TV. Wat niet iedereen weet, is dat niet fotografie maar reizen zijn echte passie is. Mark reist nu al twee jaar over de wereld en vertelt zijn verhaal.

The story of Mark Wallace, a photographer based in the United States. Most people know Mark from his YouTube videos for Digital Photography One on One and Adorama TV. But only a few know that his true passion isn’t photography. It’s traveling the world and he has been doing that for over two years now.

Alle foto’s gebruikt in dit artikel zijn eigendom van Mark Wallace en zijn gebruikt met toestemming.
All photos used in this story are owned by Mark Wallace and are used with his permission.



My name is Mark Wallace

I was born in Montana which is pretty much up north in the US. It’s located between Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park and it’s actually one of the most beautiful places in the world.

My dad is a southern Baptist preacher. He was pretty well known and I basically grew up around and in front of people. It was kind of funny, everywhere I went people were watching me to see if “the son of the preacher man” would behave. Hahaha.
My mom, she was an English teacher. Both my mom and dad taught me a lot about organizing my thoughts and presenting them in a way that would help people. So already at a young age I learned how to interact with people, how to be in front of people and how to teach.

I went to five different universities where I studied speech, communication and theater.
From there I worked in a lot of different things like being a producer for live events.

I have worked as a speaker with a show I traveled with for almost a decade.
If you’re wondering when photography came along, then here’s a nice thing to know.

Photography is not really my passion. I’m really passionate about traveling, culture and about meeting and connecting with people. And photography for me was more of a way of telling the stories that I wanted to tell.

I was shooting videos, editing videos, I even was a musician for short time. Not a very good one though. Hahaha. And all of that is just part of the package to connect with people and inspire them to do things and photography is one of those things.
And fortunately for me, photography is the thing that I’ve become known for. But it’s not like I would wake up in the morning and say “Hey! I’m a photographer”. I guess I would say I’m a communicator or an artist. That’s probably the best way to put it.

I do make my living with photography but I also make my living telling people about being a photographer.
I don’t make a lot of money selling photos, I make my money telling people about photos, teaching people how to make their own photos and inspire people about starting their own business.

You have to figure out a way to create something that’s different from the rest. If you just want to make money by taking pictures, that’s really difficult to do.

And maybe that’s why there is such a big trend of people wanting to be teachers and move away from only the photography. And the funny thing is, most people that are doing it now like myself, Brian Peterson, Gavin Hoey and so on… none of us really planned to become what we’ve become. We just wanted to help people and when doing what we were doing, social media started to happen and we became known for it.

When I started doing YouTube videos I had already been teaching workshops for years and years. And with YouTube I was just looking for a place to post some short videos to encourage people to visit my workshops.
But what happened was that the videos became larger than the workshops. And from there things started to move and I was making more and more videos instead of teaching more and more workshops.

I never expected that to happen, I never planned that.

I started creating videos called Digital Photography One on One and it was something I did with my own studio Snapfactory. After a while I partnered up with Studiolighting.net who did a lot of podcasts at that time. They had a large share of followers, around 30.000 people which was a lot back then. I created videos for them and they connected those videos with their mailing lists and that’s how Digital Photography One on One grew larger.

Brands like Profoto, Sekonic and Pocketwizard started noticing the videos and from there I started working with them as well. And in return they took a lot of videos that I made and placed them on their websites.
So all of a sudden Mark Wallace was on Pocketwizard blogs, Profoto blogs, Sekonic blogs and more and that’s how the videos became known.

And at that time there weren’t that many people doing videos on YouTube.
It was myself, David Hobby, Chase Jarvis a few others and that was pretty much it.

As the videos started to gain notoriety and popularity, I got in touch with Abraham Steinberg who was working for Adorama at that time. And Abraham was this creative genius, always figuring out new marketing ideas and ways to use YouTube and social media to sell more camera’s with Adorama.

He saw YouTube was becoming a big thing on social media and gave me a call to ask if we could work together and sponsor Digital Photography One on One. So instead of saying “this video is brought to you by studiolighting.net”, he wanted it to become “this video is brought to you by Adorama”.

I liked the idea and when we started talking about this, Adorama wanted me to make five videos per week for two years plus public appearances and interviews. It’s easy to understand that it was going to be an incredible amount of work and besides that it was in addition to the commercial photography and the videos I was already making for Pocketwizard, Sekonic and all those other companies. I told Adorama that the only way to pull this off was to create a separate studio and to hire a full staff with editors and camera operators. We talked about our ideas for a couple of months and in the end we created this thing that’s now known as Adorama TV.

The first two years it was just me doing the videos, the product reviews, tutorials and so on. After about two years they added Brian Peterson, Gavin Hoey, Tamara Lackey and Joe McNally to the crew and Adorama became a big thing. I think at this moment we’re close to 600000 subscribers and millions of views for our videos.

So that’s how Adorama happened and due to the large following they have it’s also why most people know Mark Wallace as the video teaching guy.
But really years and years before that I was already connecting with people, speaking, riding motorcycles, doing adventure traveling and all the things that I’m doing now.

A few years ago, I decided to scale back the social media and video part and return to what I really love to do. Inspiring people, doing location photography and travel the world.

Every six month I did a trip for a couple of weeks but eventually I wanted to travel longer than that. And that’s actually a funny story how that happened. I met my friend Lex and we were going to visit India for a few weeks. And in the planning of that trip we decided “Hey if that works out we might as well plan another trip for a month”. Every three months we wanted to leave for a full month of traveling. But as we started working through the logistics of that, we came to the conclusion that it would be extremely expensive and difficult to do. So we said “why don’t we just go for six months?”. And as we started approaching that we said, “Well that’s really ridiculous, if we go for six months we might as well go away for a year”. And that’s how our original plan ended up in a plan to do a two year trip.

So it happened. We sold all our stuff and left. We started with India and after that we went to Europe for a couple of weeks, pretty much to figure out if we could live without killing each other.

It all worked out and we traveled together for about two years. At the end Lex finished her doctorate and couldn’t continue traveling and went back. And when she decided to go back to the United States, I decided “Now is the time that I can do something that I’ve always wanted to do, travel on a motorcycle”.

I wanted to do that for a long long time. And I have been riding motorcycles since I was about seven years old. I’ve owned a lot of bikes over the years so riding it wasn’t something new for me.

The idea of traveling on a motorcycle was already there. And I’m not the type of guy who just sits and wait for things to happen.

I don’t really believe that things will happen if some stars line up. I believe that if you want to do something, you should choose to do it and then do it. Otherwise it will never happen. If I want to do something, I will figure out what it will take to do that and then I’ll decide if it’s worth doing.

The idea of the motorcycle trip was there since the beginning of 2000 but it never was worth it for me. I didn’t have the time in my life where I could do it. It’s not that back in 2007 I didn’t want to do this trip. I wanted it. But I couldn’t. I didn’t like it but it was a choice I had to make.

But when you go through changes, like a change in job, a change in business you always, or at least I always look back at the things I still want to do. To see if the time is right.
And the time was right at that moment. I mean I’m single and I don’t have any kids. I had the resources to buy the bike so I decided to do it.
And since then I’ve been on my motorcycle for about one and a half year. I’ve traveled through North America, Central America, South America, Africa and at the moment I’m traveling through Europe where I have found a nice place in Germany to stay for a few weeks.

In a couple of months, I’m planning to drive to the East, all the way through Russia where I will take a ferry to Japan and drive from North to South. From there I will put the bike and myself on a ship and go to Vietnam to drive through South-East Asia all the way to Indonesia and then travel to Australia. There is a small change I will return to the United States from there but I will probably fly back to Africa because I really want to do drive from South Africa to Morocco through the western side of the continent.

From there I will be heading to Gibraltar and travel through Spain and France to take the tunnel back to the United Kingdom. I will be flying to New York and will probably be driving through the US and finally be back in Arizona.

The nice thing about traveling like this is that there is this club of people. When you start you’re like “Maybe it’s just me and about ten other people doing this” but there are really thousands of people traveling the world like this.

Either on motorcycle, on a bicycle or just backpacking. There is a huge community of people traveling the world. You start connecting to the forums and communities, you start meeting more and more people and then traveling also becomes easier. Because you talk to people who have traveled your route before and they tell you a lot about it. Do this and don’t do that, when you’re in this city you should talk to this guy and so on. And not only does it make traveling easier, it also makes it a lot more fun.

People are amazing. I was in Madrid a short while ago and I went down there to meet a lady called Alicia Sornosa. She is the first Spanish woman to ride around the world on a motorcycle and she has written a book about it. I connected with her on Twitter and she invited me to come down and visit her.

From there she invited me to meet with some other riders and travelers and I was able to sit down with them for a few times.

I believe there were twelve people in that group and from those twelve people, six or seven have traveled the world on a motorcycle by themselves.
And the longer you are traveling the more of those things you experience.
I’ve met a lot of people in Colombia that have traveled through Central and South Amerika and everybody helps each other. It really is a small family.

One of the challenges for me with traveling is that I still need to work. I need to write my articles and need to shoot my videos to make some money. There are times that I have to stop traveling and settle down for a week or two, sometimes even longer, just to catch up on work. And that’s what I am doing right now.

A while ago, in London, my bike got stolen.

Luckily the police found it but the bike was almost totally destroyed. The front and rear end had to be rebuild, a big part of the frame had to be fixed and it was really expensive to have it all repaired. All the money that I saved to re-supply with new writing gear, a laptop and those kind of things… all of that money was spent to fix the motorcycle.
But the most important thing was that I got the bike back, so that was good but now I still need all that new equipment to earn my money. So yeah, that was a setback.

I have a couple of cameras so I can still make my videos and that’s what I’m doing now. And what people don’t realize is that a 5-minute video can take up to 12 or 15 hours of work.

You have to find a topic, figure out where you can shoot and if you are allowed to shoot.
Is there a budget for a model, will you shoot a video indoor or outdoor, do you need a permit, all those kind of things.
And ofcourse you have the story of education you need to tell.

It’s useless to just go to a nice view, take a photo and then say, “Well folks, thanks for watching and see you next time!”. You need to tell the audience where you are, what you are doing, how you are doing it and why you are doing it. Thats what makes it a nice video segment but it also takes up a lot of work.

And I’m also the only person doing all of it. I’m the one thinking of a script, scout the environment, the shooting and editing. It’s really fun to do and I like it but it’s not the easiest thing to do. And people tend to overlook that. But it also gives you great moments. Sometimes people volunteer to help.
I was in Prague a couple of years ago and I was trying to make a video and it was one of those days that nothing worked. I couldn’t get the camera angle, I was on a bridge, my video camera was dangling on this tiny little tripod and it was just difficult to shoot this video. So I’m trying and trying and then this guy walks by. He stops, looks at me and says

“Hey, you’re Mark Wallace.” I’m like “Yeah I am.” He said “Wow, I can’t believe you’re here. I’ve watched all your videos.” And I replied “Wow that’s awesome. Want to help me make one right now?”

So I gave him my video camera and he shot this video for me. We went out after that, he showed me Prague and we became friends. His name is Thanos, I’ve met his girlfriend and we went out to diner a few times and we’ve stayed in touch over time. One of the plans I still have is to go back to Prague to see him again. But how much fun is that? There I was, on this bridge in Prague, a guy walks by and it ended in a new friendship. So yeah, I am planning to go back there again.

If I look ahead with the trips to come I guess I won’t be in Japan before September.
One of the other cool things of traveling is that you have a lot of freedom but sometimes you need to plan ahead.

I will be traveling through Russia and I think you can image I don’t want to be doing that during the winter. The plan I have is to travel for at last another year.But I guess I will still be in South-East Asia around October/November/December so I’ll probably be traveling for a quite a while.

But who knows what’s coming across my path. It has happened before that I planned a short meeting with some friends and stayed for 10 days. Hahaha. That’s beauty of it all!
I’m just really glad that I am finally doing something that I wanted to do for a long long time. And that’s traveling the world on my motorcycle.

My name is Mark and traveling is my passion.



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