William Mark Sommer (b. 1990) is a film photographer residing in Sacramento, California. Mark has earned his BFA in Photography from Arizona State University and he has exhibited over the United States and Internationally. In 2020, Mark was chosen by Alex Prager for Life Framer’s “Open Call” First Place Award. Mark also has self-published 10 zines and has been featured in publications like Stay Wild, Float, Aint Bad, Booooooom, Analog Mag, The Modern-Day Explorer, among others.
Within Mark’s series he utilizes a long-term post documentary mode of storytelling to explore themes of human nature, preservation and empathy. He photographs to further his understanding of a diversity of human experiences, exploring what we hold dear and how our actions shape our environments. He looks for his work to challenge stereotypes by showing the unseen and giving a voice to the misunderstood.
Growing up in the small-bypassed town of Loomis, California, Mark was shaped by the culture of the Lincoln Highway. Experiencing this culture gave him a deep admiration towards small town America and its the history along the fading highways. Following these experiences and admirations has taken him all over the Western United States and brought him a closer understanding with complexities of American culture by seeing history in person and understanding its progressive nature in forgetting the past.
The Loneliest Highway
The empty stretch of road goes on for miles, nothing but the occasional sign or the passerby as the pavement beneath my tires breathes the melody of past motorists. The Loneliest Highway is my lyrical journey across Nevada finding solace in the emptiness along the Lincoln Highway in the wake of the Covid-19 Pandemic. This melancholy song is driven by the feelings of isolation that conveys the essence of the stay at home orders and the loneliness that came in seclusion afterward. Through these discoveries in loneliness along the road I was able to develop catharsis of the moment and empowerment to show this current time. Along this lonely road the lines move like a day in wait as I pass through the forgotten towns that align the highway, nothing to be said or heard but the whispers of what came before and a hope in betterment of tomorrow.
To view more of William Mark Sommer’s work please visit his website.