Article written by Jennifer Barrett, chief development officer, and Danae Leake, marketing and communications manager.
Local photographer and friend to Lutheran Social Services, Mark Krancer, currently has an exhibit on display at the Museum of Science and History, or MOSH, in downtown Jacksonville as part of the museum’s ImagiNature series. The series will be on display through the summer.
“This installment showcases some of my favorite photography interactions with nature from around the Southeast throughout the last few years,” Krancer said recently in a Facebook post.
LSSNEFL President & CEO Bill Brim started following Krancer's photography when many of us did—after his iconic shot of hurricane-force waves crashing down on Riverside’s Memorial Park went viral. Brim started liking Krancer’s photos on Facebook and, as sometimes happens in the age of social media, that turned into a friendship.
“Friendship is its own reward,” Brim said. “Sometimes, though, God puts friends in your path, and it leads to even greater things.”
That was certainly the case with Krancer, who became a friend not just to Brim, but also to Lutheran Social Services of Northeast Florida.
Over the years, Krancer has helped LSSNEFL share its story in the community.
"I love to see the ways that LSSNEFL continues to blossom to help the community," Krancer said. "And I love the ability to connect the dots when I can."
In 2021, he connected LSSNEFL with Chris Kuo of Two Piano Journey. Kuo worked with Brim and his team to launch the LSSNEFL Leadership Council, and in September 2022, Kuo and his mother Michelle performed a two-piano concert to benefit the nonprofit organization.
Through the event, the Kuos helped raise $48,000 for LSSNEFL. The proceeds went to the organization to address some of the most pressing needs in the local community, including food insecurity and support for newly arrived refugees.
The Kuos will return to Jacksonville for another benefit concert on September 16, 2023 with a goal to raise $75,000.
“Mark is a true champion not only for LSS, but for the whole Northeast Florida community,” Brim said. “I am so excited about everyone who will be introduced to his incredible work through this exhibit!”
Krancer’s exhibit is located in the entryway as you enter the museum.
The Man Behind the Camera
Krancer, a Texas native, moved to Jacksonville in 2014, and fell in love with the Riverside area after first visiting the "Life" statue in Memorial Park. He began documenting the beauty of the city's natural beauty, like the sunrise on the St. Johns River.
He launched Kram Kran Photo in July 2015, and shortly after displayed a month-long exhibit at the Main Library in Jacksonville. May to August in 2016, his work was featured on display at the Jacksonville International Airport.
On September 11th, 2017, Krancer trekked through the waters of the flooded Memorial Park, where he took the iconic photo of the "Life" sculpture surrounded by storm waters.
And he ended up giving back to a work of art he held close to his heart. Krancer donated a portion of the sales from the photograph back to the Memorial Park Association. Mark has been instrumental in helping to rebuild his city's beloved World War I tribute.
Since then, Krancer’s work is often featured in and around Northeast Florida.
'An Attitude of Gratitude'
Mark had a non-traditional path to his now thriving photography business.
Before the recognition of his artwork and celebrating 10 years of sobriety, Mark started his creative journey of taking sunrise photos on his cellphone while riding to work at 7 a.m. on his bicycle. Recovering from addiction and after giving his life to Christ, Krancer had worked in distribution at the Florida-Times Union.
His positivity kept him afloat when times were tough.
"I had this newfound appreciation of life," he said. "I had all these trials and tribulations, but when you have an attitude of gratitude, those trials don't seem that bad."
At the time, Mark didn't own a car, and he was thankful for the little things like riding his bike. This perspective allowed him to appreciate watching the sunrise over the Riverwalk.
A friend of his gifted Mark his first camera, which he used to teach himself the principles of photography at Memorial Park. His photography skills came in handy on September 11th, 2017 when he took the renowned image titled ‘Life in the River.’
"With 'Life in the River', it opened up so many doors for me and I am blessed to have my art featured prominently in Jacksonville, and I love being able to showcase the beauty that this world has to offer."
Krancer said he's thankful for "those doors that God had opened."
Learn more about Mark Krancer, and his work by visiting his website at https://www.kramkranphoto.com/.