Togs & Tales

Mark Molloy

Mark Molloy

Landscape Photographer

My Name is Mark Molloy. I currently live in the small Village of Kilanerin, located 5km outside of the bustling town of Gorey, Co. Wexford but I am first and foremost a Wicklow man.
I am married to my lovely wife Irene and father to two boys and a girl who keep me young at heart and physically motivated most of the time.
My current Daily grind is that of a Sales support representative within the FMCG sector for brands such as Loreal, Valeo group, Allegro and many, many more but have been in retail for the best part of 20 years.
Outside of Photography I love Movies and seem to be able to retain film trivia in such a way that it takes up far too much space in my head, I almost always have my earbuds in and adore all genres of music, from The Coronas to Ludovico Einaudi and anything in-between. I thoroughly enjoy the outdoors, walking, hiking, and running and of course that love of being outdoors has helped build the foundation that drew me into photography in the first place.

What was your path to becoming a Landscape Photographer & What was your first camera?

I have always appreciated nature and the outdoors but the urge to take photos of anything didn’t really come about till I was in my very late 20’s, early 30’s and this huge urge to own a camera came over me. This urge was Fervently and continuously directed to towards my then girlfriend, now my wife, with subtle hints of “ya, know if you’re stuck for a gift at any time, I really wouldn’t mind a camera”. She took these subtle hints and ran with them and for Christmas of 2011 “surprised me” with a Canon IXUS 200 IS. This pocket size 12.1mp 24-120mm focal length snapper was used by myself a great deal, not in great depth but was always in use.

My Good friend Tom Breen had been into photography for longer than I personally knew him and when I mentioned it to him that I was interested in stepping it up a little, he knew a person selling a Micro Four Thirds Olympus PEN E-P3 with a couple of stock lenses, so I jumped at the purchase. The combination of this new camera and its capabilities and Having Someone with as much Knowledge as Tom to go out and take landscape images with would be the start of the obsession, what really fanned the flame was being asked to go on a photography only trip to Iceland with a small group of his friends, people I can now gladly refer to as my friends also, no less than 6 months after expressing wanting to know more about landscape photography.

I always maintained that trip spoiled me, I had barley seen or shot any of my own stunningly beautiful Country and If I am being honest, I really was not confident enough or knowledgeable enough to technically produce images that would do that trip justice, but I had never experienced breathtakingly beautiful landscapes such as what I had seen while In Iceland and it truly was the catalyst for my ongoing photography pursuits.
Since 2014 I have slowly moved from My little Olympus m4/3rd to my current Full fame Sony gear. As I write this (27-oct-2021) I have just completed A higher cert in Photography and am anxiously awaiting the results, The aim being to do a lot more of this photography stuff a lot more often.

What was your favourite Landscape Adventure Story since becoming a Photographer?

Noting has since topped my second visit to Iceland in 2017, That entire trip was equally as exciting as it was an assault on the nerves. Looking back at it, it could have gone so very wrong, but the Gods of coincidental timing were really working in our favour.

The four of us, Tom Breen, Keith Walsh (Mr KeithWalshagram), Michelle Hennessy and my self, landed in Reykjavík towards the end of February 2017 amid the heaviest snowfall in the capital not seen since January 1937. The vehicle we originally booked for the trip was unavailable, after a long discussion were upgraded to a 4X4 Jeep. If this had not have happened, we would not have progressed through this trip. We had barley gotten underway when the city roads were being closed, army and police were on many main junctions and thanks to a nice couple of army gents standing beside a very intimidating APC who concurred the vehicle we were driving would be able do deal the impending condition ahead, we would have been halted, but were let through, thank God.

The south of the country was Manageable and stunningly beautiful but the number of vehicles we came across that had been jettisoned at the side of the roads was staggering. The Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon had so many stuck vehicles it was starting to mirror Brittas bay car parks on a warm summer day. The north of the country was something else. Driving through whiteouts became a regular occurrence, having the vehicle in front of us or behind us just slide off road was a daily Guarantee. Hiking to locations took longer because of the deep snow. The winds were extremely high. I remember walking to the Powerful Dettifoss based in vatnajökull national park and we were all been blown sideways and by the time we reached the viewing platform it was impossible to shoot the waterfall, the spray alone coming from the falls was the equivalent of a torrential downpour, but I was loving every minute of this and by the time we started to make our way back to Ólafsvík on the The Snæfellsnes Peninsula, we were being treated to Northern Lights ranging from levels 4 up to 7 on the Kp scale. If you have never experienced the Aurora Borealis with the naked eye, it is without a doubt the giddiest elevating felling I have ever experienced in my adult life. We were still driving closed mountain passes, and still finding people ditched off roads all the time but the nights the Aurora was dancing in the sky no body seemed to care not even those stuck for the night in their vehicles at – 17 degrees until they could be towed back to the road the next day. Spending the entire night at the Black Church of Budir as the northern lights explode in the illuminated dark skies with a large crowd of likeminded photographers from all over the world is an experience I would hunt out repeatedly. I would encourage any person with an interest in photography to pursue the same.

What was your worst in-the-field experience as a landscape Photographer?

I would consider my self lucky compared to some of my Photographer friends and while I have lost a Tokina 11-16mm lense to Icelandic sand and destroyed brand new booths that were in no way snow proof and even had a hard drive die with a great deal of my photography on it, I think those kinds of incidents are common enough within the field of photography.
Those who shoot with me will gladly confirm I will be that Guy in the most awkwardly placed positions trying to route out a composition that interests me , so I am very used to falls, slips, bangs and bruises but the worst overall experience I placed my self in was in the Summer of 2018, One of the hottest and driest on record for Ireland, I was up around Wicklow shooting for the day and as I was driving around The garden I passed over the Vartry Reservoir and couldn’t believe how low The water levels were, honestly they were non-existent. I parked up and started walking towards the Sugarloaf along the basin of the Vartry. It was amazing to stand where I was standing, my mistake was walking so far out on ground that spends 99.9% of its time under 13 meters of water. I got caught in so many boggy areas that at times I was almost waist deep in mud and struggling to pull my self forward or out of the bogland I waded into. I still managed to get a shot, one that was easily not worth hardship involved. I crawled as much as I slopped my way back to the car. I came back completely booth less, the pair sucked down by the thick mud in intervals and entirely covered in mud. It alarmed me as I was alone, as I would have never dragged someone else into those conditions. Since then, I always let my family know exactly where I am shotting on any given day.

Sunrise or Sunset & Why?

I live in the sunny Southeast of the country and am 15 min drive from the coastline, so I have the convenience of Sunrise locations quite close to me, so I am absolutely drawn more to a Sunrise more than a Sunset. My other reason would be you truly get to experience a location in a way that many others may never see, quiet and peaceful with little interruption or distractions, you get to see your world waking up and that is a special thing to capture and experience. I have stood on the giant’s causeway at 3.am in the morning and at 3.pm in the afternoon, I will take the stillness of 3.am any day of the week, there is also less parking costs at that time, which is a small bonus.

Where is your favourite Location in Ireland to Photograph & Why?

That’s a very difficult question to narrow down , I enjoy shooting around Co. Wicklow quite a lot but If I have to narrow it down to locations that always are calling me back to shoot again and again, I would have to go with Donegal it has it, world class beaches, dramatic coastlines, sketchy mountain roads, waterfalls, caves and amazing mountain ranges, Its just a shame it’s a 5 hours’ drive for me to get there all the time.

What is your favourite photograph, that you’ve taken to date, & Why?

Ironically my favourite image at this moment is an image I took with my mobile phone, A Huawei p30 pro. We put so much time and effort into our photography that when one just lands in front of you, it’s just the best felling. This image was taken about 30 meters from my home, at around 1.30.am in the morning during another covid lockdown. My self and my kids were so giddy knowing snow was on the way we literally stayed up waiting for its arrival, and when it came, out we went to enjoy its fleeting visit. There were so many adults and kids out at this early hour it was a real joy to see, especially during a lockdown. I like this image because of the above reason and because behind me stood 9 to 10 kids and adults throwing snowballs, but this street was untouched, calm, and cold the exact opposite of warmth and fun going on directly behind me.

What equipment / Setup are you currently using?

Top Tip for anyone starting out?

It is extremely easy to get bogged down with the endless amount of Gear available to purchase, and while I do believe that good Glass can make a notable difference in image sharpness and great image they do not make. Learn to use what you have and know it so well that it becomes second nature to control, then any system will be a lot easier to use and be less daunting. Learn how to process your images, you don’t have to spend much money, there are so many great tutorials out there for free, so spend time refining and knowing how to edit. Photograph what you love most, you will have to dip your toe in to different genres and may find a new love by doing this but once you find a genre that invigorates you, you’ll never look back.

Best Advise you’ve personally been given?

“Sleep on it” without a doubt the best advice I have been given. When you think your done with editing that beloved photo, sleep on it and come back to it the next day or even the next week and you will most likely see something you missed or could have improved upon or cropped slightly differently. Editing is a rabbit hole, one most of us are quite happy to get lost down for hours. Take a break and come back before finalising that wonderful image.

Who is your favourite Irish photographer at the moment ?

I would find it hard to name just one, there are so many amazing photographers in this country. A mans work that really caught my eye and photographed in way that I was amazed with back when I was starting to get serious was David Heath Williams, his work really was that inspiration that wanted to make me learn more and try harder as to was the work of my good friend and early mentor Tom Breen.

These days I find I have noting but love for the work of Marius Kastečkas, Sean O’ Riordan, Mark O Brien and Keith Walsh. I feel if I mention more, I’ll be cheating.

© All images are copyrighted to Photographer Mark Molloy
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