Mark Turner

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4682 Wynn Road Bellingham, Washington 98226

Mark Turner is an award-winning garden and native plant photographer with over 15 years supplying images to books and magazines. He blends plant geek, artist, craftsman, and communicator in his lectures and workshops on photography and native plants.

w: Turner Photographics

w: Pacific Northwest Wildflowers

w: Inland Northwest Gardening

e: view email mark@turnerphotographics.com


Mark Turner loves plants and is passionate about photography. Whether it’s an evening illustrated lecture or a multi-day photography workshop, his enthusiasm, knowledge, and friendly smile come through to every person in the group.


Mark has been photographing plants since he got his first 35mm camera more than 40 years ago. Some of those first images weren’t very good, but he’s been studying and improving ever since. He firmly believes that learning never ends.


With two books under his belt and another under contract with Timber Press, Mark knows how to tell compelling stories with photographs. His first book, Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest, was published by Timber in 2006 and has sold over 21,000 copies. Bellingham Impressions, from FarCountry Press in 2007, as sold over 3,500 copies. He is currently working on the photography for Trees and Shrubs of the Pacific Northwest, due out sometime in 2013.


Mark is an at-large member of the Washington Native Plant Society board of directors and served three years as chair of his local chapter in Bellingham. He is also a member of the Oregon Native Plant Society. He’s also on the Sehome Hill Arboretum Board of Governors, a Bellingham hilltop forest managed for its diverse native plant community.


Where did Mark’s interest in plants, photography, and teaching come from? It started at home in central West Virginia where his dad gardened and was a college professor. He made a pressed flower collection as a fourth grade 4-H Club member, complete with Latin names on many of the specimens. He’s still got the book.


In 1972 Mark headed to Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York to study photography. While there he got sidetracked into television, worked for a while at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf TV center at RIT, and went to Kent State University in Ohio for a master’s in telecommunications. He landed a job with the instructional television unit at Nebraska Public Television in Lincoln where he stayed eleven years, the last five producing interactive videodiscs for education and corporate training. In 1990 a job at Western Washington University in Bellingham beckoned and Mark moved west. The job at WWU was eliminated three years later and Mark decided to return to his original career goal of photography. He started soliciting stock photography requests from garden magazine and book publishers and slowly built his business.


Mark’s photography is published regularly in Birds and Blooms, Horticulture, American Gardener, This Old House, Sunset, Gardening How-to, Organic Gardening, and other magazines as well as garden books from numerous publishers. Some of his photography is also licensed worldwide through Getty Images and AGE Fotostock.


Mark loves to teach … especially to curious adult learners in a multi-day workshop setting. His pocket camera and digital SLR flower photography classes get consistent high marks from his students for Mark’s clear way of explaining technical topics, personal attention to each student, focused field sessions emphasizing composition and natural light, and thoughtful positive critiques that enhance the learning process.


At home, Mark shares a garden with his wife Natalie. Together they’ve transformed a bare lot into a highly visible corner garden that gets regular raves from passers-by. He and Natalie have two young adult sons. In addition to photographing gardens and native plants, Mark also creates beautiful family portraits, senior portraits, and pet portraits for customers in the Bellingham area.


Photography Workshops and Lectures


Photographing Your Garden Through New Eyes


Gardeners use a palette of plants and hardscape elements to create works of art for their enjoyment or to share with friends, neighbors, or the public. In the process we develop a mental picture of what our gardens look like and sometimes miss other ways of seeing.


In this program Mark shares his insights into garden photography, inspiring gardeners and garden lovers alike to see their gardens in new ways as they learn basic photographic techniques. Using examples from his extensive garden stock photo library, he will show the effects of different qualities of light, composition tools, perspective, point of view, juxtaposition, and seasonal change.


This program can be followed by a field workshop for up to 12 participants in a garden setting with an optional evening critique.

Wildflower Field Photography: Combining Art & Science


The Pacific Northwest is home to thousands of species of plants in a broad palette of colors, shapes, sizes, and textures. Join photographer Mark Turner for a weekend learning and practicing techniques for photographing wildflowers in their natural environment. Our field sessions will be in locations with a wide range of subject matter for artful details, plant portraits full of both beauty and information, and visual explorations of the interrelationships of several species in their habitats. The emphasis will be on discovering new ways to see the flowers, techniques for creative composition, separating subjects from distracting backgrounds, and controlling natural light.


Other topics will include ethical field practices and understanding technical descriptions to help create scientifically relevant images. Slide shows will introduce techniques, and then we'll then go into the field to put them into practice. In the evening a group critique of the day's work will provide rapid feedback. Participants should be familiar with operating their camera and bring an assortment of lenses from wide angle to macro to telephoto. A tripod is essential. Either digital or film cameras are welcome, but digital SLRs are preferred to facilitate the evening critique.


This program is also available as the introductory slide show and lecture only or a one-day field workshop only. The field workshop is limited to 12 participants. Some groups have scheduled the intro slide show for the general public, followed by the field session for a smaller number of participants.


Both of the photography programs can be tailored to students with either pocket cameras or digital SLRs. The key concepts of composition and working with light are the same no matter what camera is employed.


Native Plant and Garden Lectures


Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest National Parks


Olympic, Mount Rainier, North Cascades, and Crater Lake National Parks are popular destinations for many visitors. Each supports a diverse array of wildflowers spanning many different habitats. The flowers found in the parks are representative of those that grow in similar habitats in other parts of the northwest.


In this illustrated program photographer Mark Turner will share 101 of his favorite flowers from the parks. Some of the flowers are common and frequently seen and others are unusual, rare, or endemic to very localized habitats.

Mount Rainier


Rare and Endemic Plants of the Northwest


Several areas in the Pacific Northwest, including the Olympic Mountains, Steens Mountain, the Klamath/Siskiyou Mountains, and the Columbia Plateau are home to plants found nowhere else. Other plants are rare and not often seen.


In this program, organized geographically, you'll get to see a selection of about 100 of these rare beauties, including Epilobium siskiyouense (Siskiyou willowherb) and other plants that didn't make it into Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest because there wasn't room. Other rare flowers in this show did make the book, including Castilleja levisecta (golden paintbrush), Cephalanthera austiniae (phantom orchid), Darlingtonia californica (California pitcher plant), and Lilium bolanderi (Bolander's lily).


A shortened version of this program with about 50 slides that fits a 25-minute time slot is also available.

Golden Paintbrush


Wildflowers of the Columbia Plateau


The Columbia Plateau is a vast and relatively flat ecoregion that dominates central and eastern Washington and extends into northern Oregon and the Okanagan Highland in British Columbia. It is the result of millennia of lava flows which produced the nearly two-mile thick layer of basalt that underlays it. The driest part of the northwest, the Columbia Plateau receives as little as eight inches of precipitation annually. Vegetation is predominately sagebrush and bunchgrasses, highlighted most years by immense displays of wildflowers in the spring.


The flowers that grow and bloom in this arid region take advantage of the meager winter rains, bloom early in the spring, and then generally go dormant during the hot, dry summer. Look for them in bloom in April and May.


This is a 23-minute program, set to music.

Sagebrush Mariposa Lily


Wildflowers of the Siskiyous and Surrounding Area


The Klamath/Siskiyou range spanning the Oregon - California border has a high number of rare and endemic plants as a result of the extensive serpentine rock and resulting soils, as well as habitat and elevation diversity. Wetland plants like Darlingtonia californica (California pitcher plant) and Cypripedium californicum (California lady's-slipper) are found here. On drier sites you might find Epilobium siskiyouense (Siskiyou willowherb), Fritillaria gentneri (Gentner's fritillary), or Silene hookeri (Hooker's Indian-pink). There are also many more common species found within the Siskiyous.


In this program you'll see 105 plants, including both rare and common species.

California Lady's Slipper


Wildflowers of the North Cascades


The North Cascades, a wild and rugged region in northern Washington, is home to hundreds of species of wildflowers. Some live in the moist forests on the western slopes while others survive tough conditions and a very short growing season high in the alpine zone. Still others live on the drier eastern slopes of the mountains.


In this program you'll enjoy photographs of about 100 of the showiest and most interesting plants found in the North Cascades, both in and outside the North Cascades National Park.

Pink Heather


Not Weeds — Northwest Roadside Wildflowers


Northwest roadsides can spring to life with showy wildflowers during the spring and summer. While we have a number of invasive weeds, many of our native species also put on quite a show, including a few that are rare or endemic like the uniquely-colored Lomatium columbianum (Columbia desert parsley) found along Hwy 14 in the Columbia Gorge. Some flowers are prominent enough to recognize at 65 mph on the freeway. Others will be found only when meandering slowly along a Forest Service byway.


In this 30-45 minute program you'll be introduced to about 60 plants that are easily recognized from behind your windshield.

Columbia Desert Parsley 


Rock Gardens of the Pacific Northwest


Some rock gardeners strive to recreate portions of alpine plant environments in miniature. Others are dedicated plant collectors, growing rare and unusual beauties in their backyards. In either case, it takes special dedication and knowledge about the plants and their habitats to be successful. It helps to have an environment that is relatively friendly to bringing plants to new homes and many places in the Pacific Northwest are suitable — with a little work.


In this illustrated program photographer Mark Turner will share some of the Northwest rock gardens he has visited. He'll also contrast these garden environments and plants with some of the natural rock gardens found in the region — alpine environments, lithosols from the Columbia Plateau, and basalt cliffs in the Columbia Gorge.

Dwarf Hulsea


Bellingham, Washington
Pacific Northwest
Salish Sea
Greater Puget Sound

Photo Gallery


Audience Reviews

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iPhone Photography

Kerry Valentine from Tacoma - 09/18/2019 21:32:12

Mark Turner was an excellent speaker, well organized, articulate and professional.

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Excellent presentation, beautiful illustrations

RUTH MARTIN from EDMONDS - 04/10/2018 11:04:13

Mark presented "37 Native Gems for Northwest Gardens" to the Snohomish Garden Club on April 9, 2018. He spoke knowledgeably, with gentle humor, and outstanding illustrations. His plant descriptions included not only the good features, but also situations in which he has seen it successfully used, and any downsides. Each plant was shown in several settings, and the images were accompanied by maps showing where each one has been reported growing in the Pacific Northwest. I highly recommend Mark Turner as a speaker.

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Educational and Entertaining

Perri from Orcas - 03/02/2017 10:50:55

What's better in dark winter than to look at beautiful nature photos? Geared toward an audience with different photographic levels, even the experts learned something. An enthusiastic and personable speaker

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