Q&A: Mark Steinmetz


What is your plan for the next 24 hours? It depends on the weather. I’m in Paris now and we’ve been having many gray days – I’ll probably go photograph regardless if it brightens up or not, but I’ll do more if there’s some sun. I need to buy some candles today and do some chores. Tonight I’ll meditate. Would you like to see more or less political correctness? Less group think
. What part of the planet would you like to explore? The Mediterranean in its entirety. Where do you think the most dangerous place on Earth is? Inside that Japanese nuclear power plant or maybe that underwater volcano?
 Have you recently been living by any life philosophy? nope. You can no longer speak english, pick a new language. French. Second choice – Italian. What is your nationality? American. What nationality would you like to be alternatively? I’m tempted to say Swiss because of their neutrality and it’s a lovely country, but I’ll go with French because they have croissants there and they have an Atlantic as well as a Mediterranean coast. They also share some of the Alps.

What was the last crime you witnessed? Whatever those bankers in charge of monetary policy have been up to lately.
 Who would you most like to see embarrass themselves? The people who came up with the idea of patenting genes or maybe the ones who sell seeds that make plants that can’t re-seed, but embarrassment isn’t quite the right word for what I’d like to see happen. 
Pick an historic moment from the last hundred years to bring a camera to. Atget photographing in the Parc de Sceaux.
 Make a prediction for the future. Extraterrestrials will help us solve our energy and environmental problems. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Hmm, drawing a blank here – being gorgeous?

What is your biggest regret? Not really any big regrets are coming to mind but I’ll keep the ones I have to myself.
 Summer or winter? Fall or spring? 
Your favorite painter? Bellini or Giorgione. Or Corot or Cezanne.
 Create the name for a virus that will decimate the population. The Geronimo bug.
 What is the next book you want to read? A Potter’s Book by Bernard Leach
. What is the worst thing to happen to a man? Woody Allen said the worst thing that can happen to a man happens to everyone – getting old – but I would say losing a child is worse. 
Who would you never work for, no matter how much they offered to pay? My guess is I would work for any evil old bastard if afterward I were given everything they had (and that was a lot) – I’m assuming though by work you mean just taking a portrait. This sounds like one of those tricky devil’s deals – I better be careful.

Describe a cheap thrill. The Staten Island Ferry comes to mind as a good value.
 Pick a field of science to be an expert within. Palaeoarchaeology. 
Ultimate camera? The Alpa?
 Most used camera? Probably evenly divided between the Fuji 6 x 9 with a 90mm lens and the Siciliano (also a 6 x 9) with a 75mm lens and a Leica M4-P.
 Which living person do you most admire? Too bad Jean Renoir is dead. There are many excellent people doing good things today without much fanfare.
 Who is your favorite hero of fiction? I’ll choose heroes from cinema rather than literature. It’s hard for me to separate the man Fred Astaire from the roles he played but he’s always a favorite along with Charlie Chaplin’s tramp.

A self portrait – Mark Steinmetz