People of the U: Dr. Mark Reed
Media Contact: Annie Oeth at 601-984-1122.
Quarterbacks, ballerinas and iconic Jackson landmarks, aglow in neon.
Those are just a few of the images captured by the lens of Dr. Mark Reed.
Chief of the Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Reed may be known as well for his photography as his skills as a healer. His works have graced the cover of Mississippi State University's Alumnus magazine, the website and programs of Ballet Magnificat and the walls of homes and offices around the state.
Visitors to 5 East can take a break from their busy days to enjoy a gallery of Dr. Reed's work, and those attending charity fundraisers often see his works among silent auction donations.
The Mississippi native and UMMC alumnus has enjoyed photography since childhood.
“When digital photography came out, that's when I got into this in a big way,” Reed said.
After being asked by a colleague to donate photos to a silent auction for the Central Mississippi Down Syndrome Society, Reed said, he began to think about images that would resonate with bidders. Before long, he was sitting outside Brent's Drug Store at 4 a.m., trying to get just the right light for a photo of the beloved pharmacy-turned-restaurant.
Brent's Drugs, a Jackson landmark, is shown in a neon glow in this photo by Dr. Mark Reed.
More photos of Jackson buildings followed, as did a Northside Sun story. “It really exploded then,” Reed said of his avocation. “That was when I set up the website.”
The site, jmarkreed.com, offers prints of Reed's work, with all proceeds going to charities. Some of the recipients have included In His Steps, a Canton ministry that offers children after-school programs, and Friends of Alcoholics.
Reed has photographed scenic spots from Oxford to Hattiesburg, but his photos on the sidelines of the 2014 Mississippi State-Auburn game brought his skills into focus for a larger audience.
Reed, with the help of father-in-law Ed Blakeslee, an MSU alumnus and former member of the state College Board, earned a sideline position at Davis-Wade Stadium. During that win against Auburn, Reed snapped a post-touchdown photo of Dak Prescott. The Bulldog quarterback's finger was pointing upward in tribute to his mother, who had died earlier that season.
The winter 2014 cover of Alumnus magazine features Dr. Mark Reed's photo of Mississippi State University quarterback Dak Prescott.
Reed always donates his game photos to Mississippi State. What school officials saw had them ringing his phone, asking to use his photo of their star quarterback as the cover of Alumnus magazine's winter 2014 issue.
“He had produced a real 'wow' photograph,” said Sid Salter, Mississippi State University chief communications officer, of the cover choice. “Dr. Mark Reed is incredibly generous and talented, and we at Mississippi State are very grateful for our friendship with him.”
Reed's connection to the photo goes beyond the camera, though, as Prescott is wearing a bracelet given to him by the parents of one of Reed's patients.
Wrote Reed in Alumnus: “A few days after the pivotal Mississippi State-Auburn game, I had the privilege of seeing a young patient who has a severe chronic medical condition and multiple special needs. It takes a lot of love and support to take care of a child like this, and both parents came, proudly wearing their Mississippi State shirts.
“I asked if they had gone to the game, and they said they had and that they attend most of the games. For some reason, I felt compelled to show them a picture I had taken at that game. This is not something that I typically do, but I wanted them to see a particular shot of Dak Prescott honoring his mother.
“As I brought up the image on my computer screen, the first thing I heard behind me was the mother say, 'He's still wearing our armband,' and on her arm was the same green rubber armband - with her child's name imprinted on it - resting on Dak's raised arm. 'When we gave it to him months ago, he told us that he would never take it off,' she said.”
That, Reed said, reflecting on the moment at his UMMC office, “was a God thing. It was so encouraging to that family.”
Ballet Magnificat performances have been a favorite subject for Dr. Mark Reed's photography.
Capturing images of touchdowns isn't quite as difficult as snapping photos of pirouettes, Reed said. He and wife Cathy's daughters - Anna Grace, 19, Catherine, 18, and Caroline, 13 - have all danced with Ballet Magnificat, bringing the doctor's photographic skills to performances, and youngest daughter Madeleine, 3, may be stepping into her first pair of ballet slippers soon.
“Ballet photos are probably the most challenging,” he said. “You can't use a flash, and you're trying to catch those jumps midair and freeze the motion and expression.”
Reed started by taking photos at his daughters' dance recitals, said Ballet Magnificat operations manager Brenda Holden, “but now he does photo shoots for us.”
“They're all gorgeous,” Holden said. “We're blessed with his work.”
One set of photos, from the ballet “Strategem” based on C.S. Lewis' “The Screwtape Letters,” had Reed photographing dancers in front of a gray backdrop, then creating elaborate backgrounds with Adobe Photoshop. An image of Adam and Eve has a lush Garden of Eden filled with ferns, while “Greed” was depicted with a spiral of $100 bills behind the dancers.
Dr. Mark Reed has experimented with adding backgrounds using Adobe Photoshop. Here, Ballet Magnificat dancers were portraying Adam and Eve against a gray backdrop. The fern-laden Garden of Eden was created on Reed's computer.
He's also experimenting with Photoshop to give his photographs different tones and treatments.
For Reed, the creativity of photography is a way to recharge his spirit.
“I'm not going to be a doctor in heaven,” he said. “After all, there won't be a need for doctors there. God will let me do something creative.”
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