About a year ago we came across Kirk Marks on Instagram and instantly felt drawn to his work. We're inspired by people who work hard at their day jobs, but prioritize time for their avocations as well. To us, that's what it's all about. Kirk is a talented photographer, and a skilled outdoorsman. We caught up with him to learn a little more about his background, and how he finds time to pursue his passions. Enjoy! (All photos provided by Kirk Marks)
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Kirk Marks. I’m 26 years old and live on Kent Island, Maryland. I’m an angler, hunter, and photographer. I was fortunate to grow up on a small creek connected to Eastern Bay, with waters to fish and woods to hunt right outside my door. My dad introduced me to hunting and fishing at a young age and it has captivated me ever since. As I got older I became interested in sharing these pursuits through photography - as a creative outlet, but also as an attempt to clean up the negative stigmas that surround hunting and fishing.
What do you do for a living?
I work for an environmental consulting/engineering firm as a geologist. We focus mainly on remediating environments that have been contaminated by petroleum products. I spend about a quarter of my time in the field collecting samples, preforming site assessments, conducting subsurface investigations, or any number of related tasks. The rest of my time is spent working from home analyzing data, creating maps, and writing technical reports.
What are you chasing outside of the 9-5?
I’m pursuing photography in the outdoor industry. I’ve partnered with a few conservation-minded brands and I supply them with lifestyle images that authentically showcase their products. I’m fairly new to the game, but I’m slowly starting to gain traction. Moving forward I’m focusing on establishing new partnerships and strengthening existing ones.
While shooting brand content you have to see the world through your viewfinder, but on a trip for pleasure knowing when to put your camera away is just as important as knowing when to pull it out. Sometimes the present moment is just too important to corrupt. I spend a large majority of my free time fishing for striped bass, snakehead, speckled sea trout, red drum, and panfish.
Some of my favorite animals to hunt include white-tailed deer, turkey, waterfowl, and small game. My camera usually finds its way into my pack, but sometimes it doesn’t quite.
What fuels you, and inspires you to continue these pursuits?
This is a tough one. An entire book could be written to answer this question. But to keep it simple, I’d say it’s a combination of three main things; a general curiosity and appreciation for the natural world, the adventure, and the procurement of meat. At this point, I’ve been hunting and fishing for so long that I almost feel guilty when I’m not.
There’s something for everyone to learn from the outdoors, but I believe hunters and anglers take this to the next level. To be successful in these pursuits one must pay close attention to the natural cycles that keep an environment in check. Tastefully portraying this nuanced understanding of nature through photography is a goal of mine. Awareness brings appreciation, appreciation brings advocacy, and damn if we don’t need some more advocates.
Another huge reason I hunt and fish is for the meat. I very rarely purchase animal protein from the store – the stuff on my plate is personal. Harvesting your own meat is a feeling unlike many others. It leaves you with remorse, empathy, compassion – and above all appreciation. If you ask me, the world might benefit from a dose of this emotional cocktail we call hunting and fishing.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a catch and release angler at times. However, I believe in the sustainable harvest of renewable resources when a population can support it. Meals rich in flavor are one thing, but meals rich in experience are the type I crave.
What advice can you give to others who are trying to do the same, or give to those who are just looking to spend more time chasing their passions?
If outdoor photography is calling your name, my advice would be to establish a solid portfolio before reaching out to brands. This may require you to temporarily forfeit your role as the hunter or angler to exclusively focus on photography. It might be a tough transition, but it will help you develop a professional portfolio much faster than trying to hunt, fish, and shoot photos simultaneously. Once you have a handful of top-notch images, reach out to brands with a game plan, and be sure to explicitly outline how you can provide value to them.
What’s on the horizon for you, any big plans looking ahead?
There are a few upcoming trips that have me chomping at the bit. For starters, turkey season is right around the corner. This spring I have three tags to fill, two in Maryland and one in New Jersey. Turkey hunting has become a full blown addiction for me – something about that thunderous gobble and watching the woods come back to life.
As for the fish, I’m traveling to Florida in late May to target snook, redfish, and tarpon in Mosquito Lagoon. Come July a few buddies and I will be sight fishing cobia in the lower bay. And somewhere amid all that excitement, I plan to double down on my photography grind. A generalist outdoorsman/woman knows no off-season.
How can people connect with you and stay in contact?
I’m always excited to connect with new folks. The best way to reach me is through Instagram (@kirkymarks) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Until then, good luck out there!
Check out Kirk's gallery below, and be sure to give him a follow!