Tag Archives: Paul Markow

Q&A With Paul Markow… Our Photographer for Best Restaurants 2013

screen-shot-2013-02-27-at-12-28-16-pmIf you haven’t picked up our April issue, featuring our photographers’ favorite places to eat in Arizona, well, you’re missing out. It’s a wonderful issue with several tasty and unexpected dining options (Thai food in Williams? Mark Lipczynski swears it’s delicious!). Once again, we’ve utilized the brilliant photographic services of Paul Markow, and once again, Paul did great work. This year, he traveled 1,768 miles — from Sonoita to Flagstaff to Oro Valley and Marble Canyon, Paul certainly made the rounds. “The joy I receive from this sojourn around my home state always makes me feel like one of the luckiest photographers around,” he says.

Below, Paul shares some outtakes from the shoots and talks about his assignment:

How did you approach this assignment?
The process starts with me making a phone call to the chosen restaurants and asking for the owner. After assuring them I am not a telemarketer, the best part of my job is telling the owner that Arizona Highways wants to feature them in an upcoming issue. Giving people gifts is not a bad gig and the response is always pure excitement.

What do you love about the final product?
I love the process of actually getting to the printed piece— traveling, photographing, then waiting to see which images the Arizona Highways gang picks and how they are presented. Once I turn in the photography, it’s usually out of my control. It’s always a little like Christmas when you finally have the issue in your hands. And it never gets old standing in the check-out line at Safeway, seeing your cover right in front of you. Well, maybe the standing in line part does.

How did you overcome challenges along the way?
Challenges are why we are hired to do projects. I thrive on them and I get a great deal of satisfaction from solving whatever is thrown my way. At Cliff Dwellers Lodge, for example, I left Flagstaff at 6:30 a.m. thinking I would be there for breakfast. I arrived just after 9 a.m. and I was told that they had started winter hours… the restaurant was only open in the early morning, so I had to settle for an exterior shot. Fortunately, Arizona Highways is a magazine about place and the Vermillion Cliffs, where Cliff Dwellers Lodge is located, served as a very nice backdrop.

Food is a tough subject to shoot. What tips would you give to aspiring food photographers?
There are only a certain number of ways to shoot food, and when you shoot food for Arizona Highways, while it may be a food shot, it’s a food shot in a place. In other words, you need to show a sense of its environment. So for me, here are the big questions: is the food attractive enough to shoot and how much of the restaurant do I want to show? I always bring lights just in case the ambient lighting is no good. However, I try to use as much natural light as possible, so I am always looking for window lighting. Another important tip is food styling. The way the cook or chef brings out a dish is usually unshootable. You have to take the dish and reorganize everything on it. I typically tell the chef to bring me his dish of choice, along with a second dish with all the components on it. I reorganize the dish to be true to the original, using the greenest lettuce, nice looking tomatoes and the best parts of the bread, etc.

Did you change up your shooting style from last year or the year before?
In this business, you always need to improve upon your work and stay fresh, so yes. Hopefully I get better every year, and I do try to change how I approach the shoot, especially in the case of the Best Restaurants issue. You’re always trying to bring a fresh perspective. I definitely did not want this year’s issue to look like last year’s issue.

Any surprises along the way?
Not really. Although sometimes you walk into a place and you find something really fantastic. For example, at Los Hermanos in Superior, there was this great bar area,which I shot. Of course, the best surprise was Ben Mason, our wonderful model and a true Arizona cowboy — he made my day.

What kind of camera did you use?
I shot 95 percent of the issue with my trusty Canon Mark III Ids. It is my oldest digital camera, approaching a million shutter clips, and soon to be retired for the Canon 1ds. My lens — the Canon 24-105 f/4 — is one of the two I use for almost everything I shoot.

—Kathy Ritchie

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Calling All Foodies: You’re Going to LOVE Our April Cover!

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by | February 28, 2013 · 9:00 am

Paul Markow Talks Shop and Even Learns a Thing or Two…

Photo of Arizona Highways staff at Hanagan Meadow by Paul Markow

If you follow Facebook, then you know that the Arizona Highways crew recently spent some time in the White Mountains for a staff retreat and several photo shoots. Contributing photographer Paul Markow was also along for the ride and, on his down-time, he snapped this amazing photograph of the team.

Below, Paul talks about how he scored this magical shot:

The best lesson from this shot is to always have your camera nearby. You never know when a opportunity will present itself. This impromptu photo-shoot happened around 11p.m. at Hannagan Meadow Lodge. We had a sliver of a moon starting to set and a couple of exterior lights 100 yards away coming from the lodge. I believe Arizona Highways Photo Editor Jeff Kida said something like, ‘What a beautiful shot this would make.’ As a fellow shooter, I immediately knew he was talking about a long exposure to bring out the detail the naked eye could never see. I ran to the car and grabbed a tripod — necessary for a 20 second-plus exposure — and my Canon Mark 4, which has better low light sensitivity than my more expensive Canon Mark 3 1ds.

I had never shot this type of image before, so I was excited to see what would happen. I picked out a composition — not that easy in almost total darkness — set my ISO (chip sensitivity) at 5000 and opened up too my widest f/stop — f/4.0 on my 24 to 105mm lens — and set the shutter to manual with a 25 second exposure.

Since I could not see to focus, I set the focus on manual and racked out to infinity. This part was a mistake since infinity on some cameras is actually past sharpness on focus. Who would have guessed? Anyway, this made my shot less then tack sharp, so like a typical photographer, I am calling these images impressionistic shots of stars to infinity… or something like that.

The impression is truly wondrous and the lesson here is that your camera has the ability to see light where you thought none existed. So, don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and make a beautiful image that might have been hiding in the dark.


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Q&A With Our June Cover Model Stacey Barnes

Stacey a.k.a “Silky” on our June cover

We don’t often use people on our covers… it’s just not what we do here at Arizona Highways. However, our June hiking issue is typically the exception… After all, what better way to showcase our amazing Summer Hiking Guide than by showing someone out on the trails. This month, our friend Stacey Barnes graced the cover, which was shot by Arizona Highways contributing photographer, Paul Markow.

Below, we talked to Stacey about life as an Arizona Highways cover model, her day job — she’s the co-owner of GoodyTwos Toffee Company in Scottsdale — and the nickname she earned courtesy of the Arizona Highways crew.

What is it like working with Arizona Highways photographer Paul Markow on the cover? Working with Paul Markow to shoot the cover of Arizona Highways was pretty surreal! Paul and I go way back… I was 17 when I did my first photo shoot with Paul. I have been working in the fashion industry for over 15 years, so Paul and I have worked together on a lot of catalog and advertising shoots, but not one hiking shoot! So, what was cool about this photo shoot was that it involved my favorite activity (hiking) in my favorite state (Arizona) with my favorite photographer (Paul Markow) and for one of my favorite magazines, (Arizona Highways).

Jeff Kida, Arizona Highways’ photo editor, was also along for the photo shoot… Watching Jeff and Paul working together was great and entertaining… those two together just added to the excitement of the day! All and all, I was so grateful for the opportunity to do what I love doing and it made for an unforgettable, adventurous day!

You’ve done a lot of modeling in the past and Paul was the photographer… how was it working with him again?
Amazing! Paul always makes any shoot fun and exciting! Not to mention he is my mentor… I truly look up to him (well, he is 6’7” — he’s known at Goodytwos as “Tall Paul”). He gives me great business advice, has taught me some valuable life lessons and is a super cool guy.

You’ve said that hiking is one of your favorite activities… any favorite trails?
Hiking is definitly my favorite activity — how lucky are we here in Arizona to have so many different areas of the state to hike in? We have classic Camelback Mountain, which I have hiked since I was 6 years old. But I really like to get out of Phoenix for a change in scenery. Favorite hike? That’s a tough one… I have so many! So let me condense it down to two:

Devil’s bridge. You have to hike out to the bridge itself, but once you get there it’s spectacular! The bridge is made from the red Sedona rock that was  etched away by erosion leaving a sight to be seen — also you have an incredible view of the mountains around you!

Mount Baldly. Let me just say that the White Mountains have some pristine vegetation! Some of the land is owned by the Apache Reservation, so it is very well preserved and some areas look almost untouched! The landscape is completely different from all of Arizona. The forest is thick with pine and aspen trees, and offers numerous beautiful natural lakes and rivers that are great for fishing and yes, hiking!

Besides posing on our cover, you also make yummy toffee… tell me a bit about that gig?
My mom and I started our own business making English toffee almost seven years ago. We took our decades-old family toffee recipe and started selling it at local farmers markets. The business started to grow to the point where we needed a larger commercial kitchen… at that point, we decided to incorporate a retail store, too. We opened our first store in 2009 and it was when my mom and I were busy in production, hand crafting our toffees in small batches, that we decided to get creative with our toffee flavors! We now make eight different toffee flavors from our Traditional Toffee — still our top-seller — to our Sweet & Salty Toffee, which is coated with Dark chocolate and kissed with sea salt, to our very adventurous Nutty Twist Toffee, which is made with local Cruz tequila, macadamia nuts, key lime, white chocolate and dark chocolate.

We also incorporate our toffee in different ways like in our Toffee Corn and in our Twozels (which I think is an Arizona Highways favorite). In 2011, we relocated to a much larger and sweeter space due to our growth and high demand. Though we continue to grow and evolve, one thing will never change — we still put a lot of vitamin L-O-V-E in our toffee to make sure there is plenty of sweet goodness in every bite! We offer generous samplings of all of our goodies at our shop in Scottsdale and encourage people to come in and try our toffees for themselves. When I am not out exploring Arizona, I am busy at Goodytwos, and I welcome everyone to stop by for some goodies and sampling… and while you’re here, ask me for suggestions on hiking trails in Arizona!

You’re obviously an Arizona girl … what do you love about the state and why should folks come out and visit?
Well, I am originally from Iowa, but have lived in Arizona for a number of years now and I can say that Arizona is my home and one that I love! I am very outdoorsy, so the fact that we have our vast Sonoran desert, the red rocks of Sedona, the Grand Canyon, our dense forests in Flagstaff, the Rim country and Greer…. We have it all! Not to mention Arizona’s history… Arizona Highways has done such a great job of telling Arizona’s story from past to present. My favorite Arizona Highways issue was the Centennial issue (February 2012) — the photography was remarkable and includes some memorable photos taken by Robert Markow, Paul’s father. There is plenty to do here in Arizona from sightseeing to hiking, shopping, golfing and yes, even snowboarding! Who would think that in the winter when it’s 80 degrees in the desert, you can drive a few hours away and find snow — but you can! Also I’m a bit of a dare devil and we have a great place to skydive just outside of Tucson!

Rumor has it, you’ve been christened “Silky” by some members of the Arizona Highways staff… how do you feel about that, Silky, er, um Stacey?
Hmmm…. Took me a while to figure out where “Silky” came from! Doesn’t bother me at all. I think it’s funny, and to have a nickname from the über cool team at Arizona Highways, well, what more can a girl ask for? Love it!!! xo-Silky

Information: GoodyTwos is located at 6990 E. Shea Blvd. suite #116 & #117 Scottsdale, AZ 85254; 480-575-0737 or 480-282-3815

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Photographer Paul Markow on Kodak


It’s always sad when a grand old company like Eastman Kodak fails. I spent the first 25 years of my career using the unquestionably best photographic products in the world. Kodak film and papers were the best products money could buy, and Nikon had no rivals. Unfortunately, Kodak, like some other venerable companies (U.S. car companies GM, Ford etc.) and a Japanese company called Nikon, forgot how to compete. They believed they could rest on their well-earned laurels and that no one would ever use their rivals. Kodak in particular disregarded the power of the professional user, saying that we only accounted for 5 percent of sales. That’s like Nike saying that the NBA only accounts for 1 percent of their sales, so they can ignore Michael Jordan. People do follow the pros, even if they are buying an amateur version of the product. My father always said, “all you have in business is lead time.” All of these companies gave up their lead time and let their rivals close in and then eventually pass them. General Motors and Ford, after 30 years, are finally starting to compete with Japan again, and Nikon has only recently started making worthy professional cameras to close the gap that they had given Canon. As for Kodak, it gave its innovative leadership away to Fuji and that, combined with the company’s inability to transition to digital, created the death spiral that culminated into last week’s bankruptcy.

It saddens me that this has come to pass. I loved Kodak and was proud to use their products. I believe, and this is only my opinion, that the arrogance of “Too Big to Fail” is what leads to this conclusion.

 ~Paul Markow

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Q&A With Our June Cover Model

Our very own supa'star, Molly Smith

If you’re a regular reader of Arizona Highways, you’ve probably noticed that we rarely (if ever) feature people on our covers. June, however, was one of those “rarely-if-ever” exceptions. It was our hiking issue, and after much discussion, the team decided that the cover would need cover models. So who is that young supa’ star on our June issue? Well she is future journalist and photographer, Molly Smith. Molly just wrapped up her sophomore year at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State, where she met her mentor (and our boss) Robert Stieve.

Since gracing our cover, the world has truly become this college kid’s oyster. We decided to catch up with Molly to find out exactly how her life has changed.

We’re happy to report, fame has not gone to her head.

How did you feel when you were asked to be on the cover of Arizona Highways?

I was surprised, and then very excited. I’ve had my photo in the magazine before—I tagged along on a restaurant shoot with Paul Markow and Jeff Kida last year. Paul took my photo outside Fournos in Sedona, but this time, the shoot was planned. When I went on the restaurant shoot, I was just there to observe and carry some gear, the photo happened out of chance. For the June cover, I was asked a few months in advance to go on a hike and have my photo taken. It was a great opportunity and I really enjoyed the trip.

Is this something you’ve always aspired to… to be an Arizona Highways cover model?

Initially, I aspired to have my work published in the magazine, and I’ve had that chance twice now. Then, I wanted to work at the magazine, and it looks like that will happen next semester when I’m the photo intern there. After that, I guess I just have to land that coveted space on the cover!

Were your friends jealous?

They’re more jealous of the fact that I got to hang out with Paul, Jeff and Robert for a day. Several of my photographer friends wanted to know if I learned any inside tips from them.

How did you prepare for the shoot?

I tried to get my beauty sleep the night before, but my plans were foiled by an ill-timed karaoke night. We were staying at the Molly Butler Lodge, and the bar was right down the hall. I lay awake in my room listening to classics like, Love is a Battlefield and I Will Survive until midnight, only to wake up at 5 a.m. to get ready.

Luckily, the morning air was chilly enough to wake me up. Once we got to our location, I was a little nervous, but Robert, Paul and Jeff cracked jokes the whole time and put me at ease.

Afterwards, Paul, Jeff and I geeked out with our cameras for about an hour or two in the woods. We photographed everything from moss and flowers to lizards and dead trees. Even Robert tried to get into the spirit with his iPhone camera.

Have people started recognizing you on the street or while you’re in line at the supermarket?

I’ve only had one person say something about it and that was when one of my elementary school teachers found me on Facebook to congratulate me. Robert once told me he’s had people recognize him in the doctor’s office or out at lunch, but I have yet to achieve that level of fame. As for being recognized in the supermarket, I’m tempted to buy several copies of the issue and see if the cashier recognizes me.

Maybe I should start carrying around a pen for autographs.

So how do you plan to parlay your new found fame into something even bigger?

I guess if my career as a photographer doesn’t work out, then maybe I can be a model for hiking gear—I’ve already got one cover photo in my portfolio!

What is Robert like as a mentor?

Robert has been a fantastic mentor. He’s a bit goofy sometimes; Kelly once likened him to Willy Wonka, which is a description I’d agree with. He’s taught me a lot about the way the magazine works and he’s always willing to answer the many questions I have. Plus, I’ve discovered some great new lunch spots in the Valley—he seems to know his way around the best local places to eat.

Relating to the trip for the cover photo, Robert spent the whole drive back in awe of the clouds. It was a beautiful day out, but I must have heard him say, “Wow, check out that sky!” about 20 times. It’s nice to see someone so passionate about the outdoors. He knows the state very well, and I always know who to call if I need a good trail to hike.





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