Growing up in 1960’s Oakland, California, photographer Marc Morrison was constantly surrounded by extreme diversity— his own mother even went to community college with the Black Panthers. And from an early age, his parents believe he should see as much of real life as possible. Instead of going on the typical family vacation to Disney Land, his family would travel outside the boundaries of the United States to countries like Haiti, to see how others lived. The perspective his parents made sure he grew up with has a lot to do with the way he treats and accepts people today in his adult life, and photography career.
One with a career in photography gets to travel a fair share for their work, and Marc has gotten involved in situations throughout his travels with make him much more aware of how lucky we are to live in the country that we do. For instance, on a trip to Papua New Guinea, he experience a way of life that was void of electricity, children walking around barefoot on clay dirt floors, yet the people held the biggest smiles on their faces. You saw a person’s face rather than the tops of their heads, which is far too common in Western society with our technology driven lifestyles. When you come back from something like that, it puts everything into perspective. An out of sight out of mind mind set is something Marc has never been able to buy into, and his empathy for people shines through his entire body of work.
While Marc excels in portraiture, and it making up the bulk of his work, he started off with a big career of shooting sports, all thanks to a household name— George Foreman. The first time he met George was when he visited him on his ranch in Texas, and he showed Marc around his old training facility that was littered with memorabilia and photographs of him collected over the years. They were total strangers at the time, but the moment was full of sincerity. George and Marc worked together again, and he even brought Marc onto The Johnny Carson Show set with him. Through George, Marc was able to witness and do much more than he could have without him, and met a ton of people influential to his future career. If it wasn’t for George, Marc doesn’t believe he’d have the sports career he had.
When Marc first started working with the wire service, his responsibilities were to cover all Houston sports teams. There are tons of major sports based in Houston, and he photographed sports all through college, as it was his favorite thing to shoot. When he first started shooting, there was only film to work with, so you did the best you could with what you had. He eventually signed with All Sports, and was their designated boxing shooter. He traveled the world with them, even shooting one of Mickey Rourke’s fights in Miami, and Tyson fights in Vegas.
Around this time, a friend he used to shoot motion picture stills with took a photo director job at a magazine called Country Weekly. The magazine had huge budgets and flew Marc all over the place, sticking him on tour buses with some of the biggest country artists out there. For almost 10 years, Marc followed these artists on the road, shooting portraits and even some album covers. He discovered that working with people (regardless of genre or talent) who have a burning passion for what they are doing makes Marc’s job that much more exhilarating and worthwhile.
Marc has since worked on campaigns with huge celebrities like Ringo Starr. Growing up in the 1960’s Beatlemania, and being a wannabe drummer, working with someone like Ringo was a dream come true for him. Even at 76 years old, Ringo still held the same amount of exuberance and excitement for his passion as he always had. This kind of love for ones craft is what draws Marc to his subjects, and enables great work to be made naturally.
The same passion that lives within musicians is also present inside the soul of an athlete. They physically work so hard to get to where they are and where they want to be. It is not always about the money or impressing someone else, but it is their goal which they are driven by. Marc recently worked with a Paralympic swimmer in Trinidad, who has one leg about half as long as the other. She was born with this condition, but doesn’t let it affect her quality of life. She awakes at 5 AM every day to do her morning work out, afterwards she goes to her full time job, and before she walks home to the house she shares with her extended family, she works out one more time.
Being a photographer allows for him to work with similar minded people. They may not have the same interests, but share the same burning passion for their craft. This is why Marc loves editorial work, because it allows him to collaborate more with his subject. In the next year he hopes to shoot more sports, more music, more every day people. He stands strong when he says he wouldn’t take a job he didn’t feel he could give 100% to, so he hasn’t. In this business it is easy to become complacent; sometimes we can’t help but get trapped in the cycle of creating the same kind of work over and over again. But Marc won’t let himself fall down that rabbit hole, so in order to stretch his boundaries and exercise his creative side, saying yes to editorial work will be the vehicle that allows this to happen.