Photographer Mark Hirsch to discuss writing and 'That Tree'

November 19, 2014
Mark Hirsch

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s Department of Humanities will present photographer and adventurer Mark Hirsch in the Harry and Laura Nohr Gallery on Thursday, Dec. 4. Hirsch will discuss his photography and writing as they relate to his book, “That Tree.” Students, faculty, staff and community members are welcome.

Hirsch will speak at the following times: 8:30-9:15 a.m.; 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.; 1-1:45 p.m.; 4-4:45 p.m.

Hirsch graduated from UW-Platteville in 1986 with a technical communications degree with a photography emphasis. He taught photojournalism at UW-Platteville from 1996 through 1999 and taught basic photography at Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa, from 2000 through 2006.

Hirsch, an editorial and corporate photographer, spent 20 years in the newspaper industry as a photojournalist, photo editor and visuals editor until ultimately embarking on a freelance career in 2006. His clients include companies like Getty Images, The New York Times and John Deere Corporation.

In January 2012, while recovering from a serious car accident, Hirsch was inspired by a friend to treat his iPhone like a camera. He said that like many professional photographers, he scoffed at the idea that the camera inside the iPhone would interest him in any way. The first picture he made was of an old burr oak tree he had driven past for 19 years.

That experience inspired Hirsch to explore the iPhone’s potential by making a photo each day of whatever visual discoveries he encountered and then sharing them on his Facebook page. On March 13, 2012, he made another photo of the same burr oak tree and posted it to Facebook. Several days later, a friend saw the second photo and sent Hirsch a message saying “What’s with you and that tree; why don’t you do a photo a day with it?” The very next day, Hirsch returned to the tree and, for the next year, he took a photo of the tree every day on his iPhone. The yearlong project was completed on March 23, 2013.

Hirsch said he didn’t realize it at the time, but the yearlong project resulted in a transformative experience of healing, self-discovery, inspiration and enlightenment. Hirsch hopes his project and book will inspire others to slow down and take time to look for the deeper moments in life.

Hirsch has shown his photos of “That Tree” in galleries and his story has been featured by many worldwide media organizations, including CBS Sunday Morning, MSNBC, PBS, The Daily Mail (UK), The San Francisco Chronicle, The Huffington Post and The Sierra Club. His story was also featured in the Winter 2014 issue of UW-Platteville’s Alumni Today magazine.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to share my enthusiasm for photography and writing at my alma mater,” Hirsch said. “Finding a personal comfort zone for publishing my written reflections has unleashed a passion for something I was previously uncomfortable sharing with others. I believe there is an artist, writer, or other creative talent hiding within each of us, waiting to be unleashed, if we can only get beyond the fear of worrying about what others will think.”

“Many of us are feeling pressured to do more and more and move faster and faster,” said Dr. Terry Burns, chair of the department of humanities at UW-Platteville. “Mark’s story reminds us to slow down, to look, to take time experiencing what’s around us. His story is inspiring, and he teaches from the heart.”

“Mark Hirsch's inspiring images and words will live on forever due to his true spirit, talent, character and nature,” said Seth Frigo, English lecturer at UW-Platteville.

For more information about “That Tree,” go to http://www.thattree.net.
 

Written by: Laurie Hamer, College of Liberal Arts and Education, (608) 342-6191, hamerl@uwplatt.edu​

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