When the word “stupid” parted his lips, there was an immediate shutter. It’s the wickedest label somebody could give. Sitting in a coffee shop, conducting an interview and hearing, “They told me I was the stupidest kid in the school system.” Typing stopped. He kept talking without a miss, “but my mother had my back, she told me not to believe it and not to care what others said about me.” (Sound advice mama!) He didn’t believe it and, years later learned that he was not stupid but only dyslexic. Now, over sixty years later, Clark James Mishler is one of the best photographers in the world. We worked hard to meet with Mishler for the first time in Calistoga over two years ago. It was the morning Address Pending Co. was able to lay the first blocks of our foundation. The high coming off that meeting will never be forgotten. With all being said, the legend has made time for us again and we could not be more thrilled. He has just arrived home after a stint away: Anchorage, Alaska to Bordeaux, France on assignment; welcomed home, evacuated from the fires in northern California and now settling in again. We’re interviewing the man behind the photographs: Clark James Mishler.
APCo: Clark, you're an amazing photographer, we are beyond thrilled to work with you. How did you decide to partner with a start-up like Address Pending Co.?
Mishler: It was totally the founder; she was incredibly inquisitive, not particularly set in her ways and extremely open to suggestions and ideas. I think it’s hard to refuse somebody with that kind of approach.
APCo: Thrilled to hear that; it has been a dream for years. Speaking of dreams, tell us, what did you want to be when you were a child?
Mishler: I always loved to draw, and I always thought I would do something visual. When I was a kid, I knew that something wasn’t quite right...and dyslexia was not yet on anyone’s radar. My teachers didn’t know why I could not learn to read but I did learn…though differently than my classmates. Luckily, I had a number of teachers who were willing to work with me and get me through high school. Much to the surprise of my high school advisor, and (besides my mother) pretty much everyone else, I eventually graduated from college where I studied the one thing I always loved…the graphic arts. When I started making my own way in the world I began as a graphic designer…eventually transitioning to photography.
APCo: You had a wise mother. I’m glad to know that a learning disability didn’t hold you back. Let’s speak some more truth. Which of your traits are you most proud of?
Mishler: I think what I try to do and do, most of the time is: be here now… and seeing the world around me. In terms of photography I think it’s important to be ready…to have your radar up. There’s not much that happens around me that I don’t catch. When I have a situation where I have not recognized a moment, I don’t get down on myself…I understand that I am still learning and I continue to have room for improvement.
APCo: Love that. That’s what life is about, learning. Just out of curiosity, what's the first thing you do every morning to start your day on the right foot?
Mishler: Exactly the same thing…I am an absolute creature of habit. My mornings are nearly 100% identical. I have a cup of coffee, and then I begin my exercise routine…a routine that I have developed over the years. At the end of it, I am ready, and then Mitzi and I go for a walk with the dog. Additionally, I try to do a little bit of gardening each day. When it’s all said and done, I do about an hour and a half of exercise every morning.
APCo: That’s so good. Keeps you young! Exercise is a good stimulus for joy too. Tell us, what sparks joy in you?
Mishler: For me, nothing sparks joy more than producing a great image that tells a story. If that image also motivates people to do the right thing…that’s the ultimate.
APCo: You know, Address Pending Co. is working towards inspiring a generation to look past themselves and into the bigger picture. The picture of life, of engagement, of conversation. What does that mean to you?
Mishler: I’ve done a lot of teaching in my life and I think that I’ve learned a great deal from teaching. Working on the big picture and teaching what you’ve learned is good. Teaching can also be done on a one-to-one level, a different opportunity is reached there. We all need to work on the teaching aspect of life…we need to be helping each other.
APCo: We think so too. Like de-stigmatizing discussion about mental health. People are going to have to learn that it’s okay to talk, be open and to ask for help. That’s what we’re here to teach. Alright, on to the next, what does success mean to you?
Mishler: Many years ago I remember thinking, “Clark do you want to be rich or do you want to be famous?” I thought, I’d like to be famous…famous to a few important people. When I die, I would hope the eulogy will express that I stood for what I believe in and that I never stopped.
APCo: If Address Pending Co. is famous to just one single person, it is all worth it. What does the world need more of? Or even less of?
Mishler: That’s easy, the world needs less divisiveness and more togetherness.
APCo: Couldn’t argue that. You’ve given us a lot of your time today, thank you. We’ll end on this, what would you say one of your favorite things about life is?
Mishler: I think just waking up every morning and seeing the light coming through the windows. That to me is the best. Very close to that is having my arms around the person I love at the end of the day. Yes, the first and last minutes of the day…these are my favorites.
APCo: Unintentionally melting hearts, you’re amazing. Thank you Clark for your time. Thank you for aiding Address Pending Co. in the best of ways.