Sometimes it’s not about creating the shot as much as it is being able to grab the shot when you see it.    I was in a turn lane on a foggy drive into the office when I so this flock of birds perched on the “red light camera” pole above the intersection.  That week I had started carrying the Fuji X30 with me again, manual exposure, fair ISO and just enough of a zoom to get the framing, all of which adjusted and shot taken in the 5 seconds or so before the light changed and I had to drive on.

Sometimes you have to create your own opportunities, and sometimes you just need to be ready, and willing, to take the opportunities you find on accident.


Morning Birds

The “Blue Shift Infrared” project was one of those that I felt I could only touch on while I was a full time wedding photographer due to the fact that some of the content wasn’t as tame shall we say as what is normally seen.

The project was the primary personal project back in 2012, over a dozen shoots and the final collection is well over 100 images, this is one that will be printed in book format at some point – even if it’s just for my bookcase.

It started when I had one of my backup digital camera bodies converted to full time infrared, I had always adored B&W infrared photos and thought it would be interesting to use at some weddings for really dramatic scenic shots of the venue.  For several months this is all it was used for, but it was enough to have a home in the camera bag.

What is an infrared camera?   No it doesn’t see in the dark.   It’s a camera that has had the normal protective IR blocking glass in front of the sensor removed and replaced with a custom cut infrared filter, it pretty much blocks all visible light and only lights light pass in the upper IR wavelengths.  So what it’s capturing is how different things reflect infrared light.   This is why green grass will go white while pine trees stay dark.  They are both green, but grass reflects IR light and pine needles absorb it.

While doing a few model portfolio shoots at the studio I pulled it out of the bag, made some custom adjustments to the white balance setting, and decided to see what would come out of the camera using the studio strobes.


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The infrared in studio with the lights and custom white balance created striking results – these are pretty much straight out of the camera – shot as JPG’s, a little photoshop to clean up the backgrounds and contrast adjustments – but that was pretty much it.

The first things I noticed is how fabric reacted – most things came out a range of white, blue white, dark blue or black.   But guessing which would reflect in which way is a challenge – I’ve seen dark fabrics, even black show up white or light blue with the infrared camera.   To find fabric drapes to this project I had to take the camera into the fabric store to look at it’s IR reflective properties.

Second what the way it captured skin – almost alabaster in it’s tone and beauty.   Often you can even see faint blue lines – veins beneath the surface of the skin.   In addition regardless of racial skin tones, we mostly all reflect infrared light at the same levels so it’s not easy to tell from the images who’s a pasty white caucasian and who isn’t.

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Studio infrared

Studio infrared


Another discovery was the fact that tattoo’s for the most part totally absorb light in the infrared spectrum going very deep black, although certain shades of ink will show up bright blue.
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So this is largely shut down – without the studio I’ve never be able to recreate the exact look again.   I am thinking of experimenting with the infrared camera out doors and using the studio strobe on a battery pack.   I’ll likely try and test shoot or two this fall and make plans for something more formal next year.

The blog only shows the PG rated images, there are a few R rated as well in the collection which can be viewed in it’s entirety here:

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on this site ( instead of the new site).  Since closing down the business last year, and selling off all my gear to finance the eye surgery for my dog Porthos, I’ve been a bit in limbo as to where to go next.   I have been able to slowly replace some of my gear – focusing on the film gear first – I started a new site to post “film only” updates to;

So for the last 8 months I’ve pretty much thrown myself into 100% film photography, which is great except for the fact I’ve been missing some of my Fuji digital gear and have a used XT-1 on the way now.  I think throwing myself into all or nothing with the film/digital debate just really isn’t who I am as an artist these days.   While I adore the look and feel of film in the medium format use, for 35mm I’m not as much a fanboy – and there are things that digital just lends itself to in a way that works for me better, such as 35mm low light B&W work.

So now I’m toying with post some stuff here once again, personal work (since I no longer do weddings/commercial work) and not items that are 100% film based.  It seems a slightly better use of the site than leaving it as a unchanging testament, a gravestone, to wedding and commercial work long since departed.    Leave the wedding items there in the history but continue to post about where I’m going moving forward, after all just as my personal work influenced those weddings, so to does the wedding work influence my personal style and work.   I am Mark Hayes – Photographer and I’ve shot commercial stock, fine art nudes, weddings, engagements, birth stories, creative film work, and have a long list of personal projects.

Maybe I’ve just got to quit trying to define myself.  Sure “Mark Hayes – Wedding Photojournalist” might have been how I wanted to define myself to Google in the past – but those days are over.  Time to get out of the box.

This site is now less and advertising portfolio as it was when the wedding business was up and running, and now just an ongoing collection of my work – all of it.  Some of it’s film, some of it’s digital.  Some traditional and some off the wall experimental.  But it all expresses something that I’m trying to express.






Some people might have noticed that there’s not been a new wedding post of any type since last fall, and there’s a reason for this.   While I don’t want to get bogged down in all the details there are some medical reasons why I’m stepping back from weddings and Mark Hayes Photography as a business entity ended last year.     At this point I haven’t ruled out coming back at some point down the road, but with 100+ weddings under my belt, this might be time to move on for good as well.

Of course this doesn’t mean I’ve stopped shooting – but for now I’m shooting my own art projects and just focusing on my own creative outlets, and the occasional family shoot for former clients.

While I expect to shoot the occasional wedding for special people, or assist friends on weddings they’ve booked from time to time, every contact I’ve received in the last 6 months has been forwarded to other photographers.

So it’s been great, and if I don’t come back to weddings I walk away knowing I have a huge body of work out there that has already become part of many families history – while I may never be famous, my work will be cherished long after I’m gone.  Not many artists can be sure of that.

So for those of you who have found this site from following links back from the numerous mentions of us on wedding blogs or referred by former clients and venues I have a few recommendations for you.

If what has inspired you most of my work is the wedding photojournalism I have two people you should consider.

First and foremost is Brian Kraft.   A wonderful photographer, and for those Dunafon clients he has had experience up at the castle.

Another wonderful photojournalist styled photographer is Preston Utley.


Now in the last few years I’ve been going back to medium format film for amazing portraits.   If that’s the part of my work that inspires you most I strongly suggest you reach out to Lisa O’Dwyer.   I’ve had her assist me before up at Dunafon Castle so she is familiar with the property, and having been a successful wedding photographer in Ireland I dare say she may be the only photographer in the state who has shot as many castle weddings as I have.

Another wonderful film photographer who has experience up at the castle is Sarah Rose Burns.   Her coverage of Emily and Rebecca’s wedding  up at Dunafon Castle is truly breathtaking and is spoken of highly by the staff up at Dunafon.

As for me – I’m off to do my own thing for a while and working on seeing if I’m able – and have the desire – to return for the 2016 or 2017 wedding seasons.




  • Karen Hild

    Wishing you the best of luck on whatever new endeavor you undertake, Mark!!

  • Chris Martin

    Wish you the best! Had some great times working with you!

Porthos waiting for his pre-surgery checkup at VRCC.

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Well with the liquidation of most of my photography gear we had the funds needed for the cataract surgery in place, now to do the pre-surgery checkup of the eyes, retina’s, optic nerve, etc to make sure everything looked good for the surgery.

The good news is everything in the eyes look perfect for the surgery.

The bad news, really, really, bad news – is the found ketones, indicating diabetic ketoacidosis.  It probably just from high blood sugar, he was only diagnosed with diabetes in June and we likely need to just modify his insulin dosage.    But with the issues this can cause we have to postpone his surgery that was scheduled this week.

Instead he’ll go in for a day long glucose curve and see if we can get everything stabilized, if so we’ll shoot for the surgery the following week.

  • Lani Kian

    Hope his health improves/stabilizes. Thinking healthy thoughts for that adorable sweetheart!!

  • Chris Martin

    Hope theres been improvement in the little ones health!