Dec. 14--Fashion photographer Mark Colman has traveled the world photographing the likes of supermodels and rock stars.
Colman, 48, recently moved back to his native Paducah and brought his art with him. An exhibit of his work titled "Natural Beauty" will be displayed at the Tribeca Mexican Cuisine Gallery, 127 Market House Square.
Colman's parents, the late Herb and Louise Colman, owned Weille's, a downtown department store that closed in the late 1970s.
"My dad and my mom always made me dress up," he said. "I was always interested in photography, even when I was younger, and I was interested in art."
After graduating from Paducah Tilghman High School in 1976, Coleman attended the former Paducah Community College and then studied photography at Ivy Tech Community College in Evansville, Ind. After taking a vacation to Denver, he moved there to work as a fashion photography assistant.
"I was surrounded by beautiful people all the time, and I was a young man," he said. "I thought it was more creative than other forms of photography. After living six months in Denver, I was offered my own studio. I started working for the May Co. department store doing newspaper ads."
Six years later he moved to Milan, Italy, one of the fashion capitals of the world.
"I was doing (photo) editorials for magazines," he said. "It was exciting. I went there not knowing anyone. I went on an one-way ticket, and I didn't speak any Italian. But the magazines were very open to Americans. I could just walk in and sit down with Vogue magazine, and I couldn't do that in the United States."
Colman's career eventually took him to Madrid, Spain, and San Francisco before settling in Los Angeles, where he lived for the past 16 years. During that time, he photographed supermodels, celebrities and bands including the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
In 1991, Colman began developing his own fine art after becoming frustrated by the lack of creativity in the fashion world. "In America, they give you a layout and that's exactly what they want you to do," he said.
Colman's art features the female form combined with images of nature. The artistic photographs are created without the use of computers. The photos have been called surrealist, but Colman doesn't describe them that way.
"I think they remind people of surrealist paintings, but I think it's a new type of manipulated photographs. It took me 10 years to develop my own unique style."
Colman's work has been exhibited around the world and has won numerous awards. It has also been featured in many international magazines.
Colman moved from a studio in downtown L.A. to Lower Town two months ago, although he is not officially a part of the Artist Relocation Program.
"I have some very close friends here," he said. "They're still my best friends, even though I've been gone for 26 years. The great thing about being a photographer is I constantly see beauty everywhere. I feel like I live in a beautiful world. I feel blessed to be excited about this work."