Heroes come in many forms. They are forged into meaningful shapes under the heat of discipline and the power of wisdom. Their great achievements inspire us and their faces remind us of who they are. And without the photographers who captured them in frames, the children of today would have been denied the opportunity to see portraits of their heroes.
Like many other talented photographers at Lifetouch School Photography, Mark Yan travels across the city to take group photos and individual portraits of students from Kindergarten to High School. A lead photographer, Mark is an excellent mentor to rookie photographers at Lifetouch.
Now in his 9th year with the company, the passion is still burning. There is no denying it: he loves what he does. Anybody in front of Mark’s camera would be drawn to the positive energy that he radiates. He is vibrant, engaging, and can be amusingly childlike when shooting kids. Mark’s proven method can turn a child’s pout into a glowing smile, well captured to the delight of the paying parents.
A father of two teenage boys, if there is a photographer who truly understands children of all ages, Mark is the one. “My goal is to elicit a complimentary expression from the students. Sometimes this is easy but often it’s challenging. The younger students tend to give you the big smile. They are usually eager to please with their innocence,” Mark explains. “Then there are the older high school students who are wearing braces and are self-conscious about showing them. With girls, the non-effusive Mona Lisa smile is what I suggest. Moreover, for the boys who flatly decline to smile, the determined James Dean look is what I try.”
Mark usually enters each school early in the morning to set up his equipment and organize his team of photographers. Shortly after the rendition of Canada’s National Anthem, a stream of students flow into the gymnasium where smiles are met with strobes of lights. Then his shooting day begins.
“Throughout the day, I am required to photograph around 200 students. I get great satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment when I can get a genuine expression from the students that come to my camera. Because I am also a parent, I can relate to the excitement of the moms and the dads when they see their child’s well-photographed portrait,” says Mark.
At the end of each day, whether the photo-shoot was for graduation, the yearbook, or a First Communion, one thing is certain: Mark once again photographed the faces of the budding great minds, heroes in the making, and the children destined to shape the bright future of Canada’s next generations.
Mark shies away from being referred to as a hero, but in the truest sense of the word, he is the unsung hero behind the camera. He has taken the photo of a child who could one day become the next Mayor of Toronto, if not the next Prime Minister of Canada. Maybe, out of the mounting files of photos, one of those students could pursue further studies in finding the ultimate cure for cancer. Whatever the outcome for his subjects, Mark will always be an everyday hero, capturing great memories of future heroes, one image at a time.