Diamond, who in the 1980s was considered a leading holography artist, has exhibited his work at Wynwood Walls, Swampspace in the Design District and other galleries around town. But he has also done endless photography, holography and videography for clients such as Marriott Hotels, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Universal Studios, Kimberly-Clark. He spent more than two years documenting the rise of the Midtown Miami development in panoramic time-lapse 3-D.
“I was commissioned by the Midtown Group, but when the real estate bubble burst, the project was stopped,” says Diamond, also a musician, who grew up in Panama, speaks Spanish as easily as English and calls himself a “gringo with a greater affinity for Latin culture than for Anglo culture.” These days, he’s learning how to play the Cuban tres.
His parents, Hindi and Walter Diamond, were both journalists. His mother, who lives in South Florida, was a Latin American correspondent for United Press International, Life magazine and other publications, and his late father shot film of Sandinistas, insurgencies and other conflicts in Central and South America for NBC’s Huntley-Brinkley Report.
Mark, who started taking photos when he was 5, keeps his parents’ cameras from their Latin American journalism days in a display case at his El Portal home. By the time he was a teenager, he was shooting portraits of rock stars, political figures and other big names for various publications, including Miami’s old indie newspaper, Daily Planet.
In 1972, still just a kid, he got a call from Annie Leibovitz, who was then chief photographer for Rolling Stone magazine. She wanted him to cover the Miami stop of the Democratic National Convention.
“I was 16. I had just dropped out of high school, or was about to drop out of high school,” Diamond says. “She asks if I can meet Hunter Thompson at the Poodle Room in the Fontainebleau Hotel. I said I didn’t know what he looked like. She said, ‘You’ll figure it out.’ My job was to illustrate whatever he was writing. He was working on Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72, which was serialized in Rolling Stone. I walked into the Poodle Room and found him at the bar. He was already three sheets to the wind.”
The work on display at Panther Coffee, all of it 3-D photography, is from recent years. Among the pieces is a triptych shot on Calle Ocho: hands involved in cigar rolling; in brewing Cuban coffee; in playing a game of dominoes. There’s an image of Diamond’s own ride, a white, 1989 Chevy Caprice station wagon framed by palm trees on Ocean Drive. A piece titled Bart Bakes Batter Boy, in which a Bart Simpson figurine looks like he’s about to stick the Pillsbury Doughboy in a toaster oven. And there are portraits of artists captured in Wynwood, from Miami’s Robert Chambers and Yuri Tuma to the internationally famed Shepard Fairey and Kenny Scharf.
Is there anyone in particular Diamond dreams about photographing in 3-D?
“A few years ago I did a 3-D portrait of a teenage kid for his private birthday party. I don’t think I’m allowed to say who it is, but his father is a major hip-hop mogul. It was a six-foot tall light box. Who else would I like to shoot? I have a lot of ideas. For instance, LeBron James. Imagine a 3-D holographic life-size image of Lebron James with a 3-year-old kid standing beside him. That would be pretty cool. That would evoke some emotion.’’