New Isanti business offers signs and photography

By Elizabeth Sias

People in Isanti looking for a photographer can now head to Main Street, where they’ll find Mark Conley Photography.

Mark Conley opened a sign and photography shop in downtown Isanti. Photo by Elizabeth Sias

The primary focus of his business will be sign and graphic creation — such as signs for businesses or a promotional banner for an event — but Conley’s passion is photography.

“I have a huge passion for photography,” he said. “Originally I was just going to leave it as a hobby, but now I’ve been doing outdoor portrait photography and events.”

Conley was never much of a photographer for most of his life until the summer of 2004. He was told he had cataracts 20 years earlier than normal and that it was progressing quickly in one eye. Because of his job, he had to wait until the end of summer to have surgery. By the time fall arrived, he had cataracts in both eyes and his vision was deteriorating.

While enjoying one of his usual peaceful spots in nature, he realized he could no longer see the green mossy rock clearly. He promised himself he would buy a camera and start taking photos when he had his eyesight back to preserve those moments in life. In March 2005, he bought his first camera.

Six years and thousands of still shots later, photography is Conley’s favorite hobby and he hopes people in the Isanti area will enjoy his photos as much as he enjoyed taking them.

“I’m a believer that there’s no such thing as a bad photo,” he said. “Mainly because it captures that time and moment. It’s really opened my eyes — photography allows me to be creative in my own way.”

Conley enjoys event, action sports and nature photography, and he also offers portraits such as senior photos. Other services include photo restoration, commercial and product photography. He plans to sell his prints in the shop at 24 West Main Street.

He particularly enjoys photographing BMX and motocross events — his friend Dale Matson opened Isanti Bicycle Repair in the same building and both men have experience with BMX racing.

He’s been in the sign and graphics business for 15 years, offering lighted and non-lighted signs, wood contour signs, banners, vehicle graphics and logo design. His first project is with the city of Isanti — he’s making a wooden sign to point people toward downtown Isanti. Conley Signs will open in about two weeks.

Before this, he had a sign business in southern Minnesota, then focused more on graphic and web design.

“Coming up here, I just love the area,” Conley said. “I know there’s other sign companies in town, but I’m not here to compete with them.”

He got into the sign business because he was a silversmith years ago, designing and casting his own jewelry. Working with various wolf organizations around the country, Conley sold a wolf track decal print that he designed himself.

At first he used a local sign shop where they had a cutter. He ordered 250, but when he came back to order more, they told him the process was too lengthy. Before long, Conley found himself with his own sign cutter to do the work himself. He sold over 10,000 of the wolf track decals.

“That was kind of the start of it,” he said. “Well then I had this equipment to do this, so I figured out the whole vehicle side of it and the banners and it grew from there.”

For more information about Mark Conley Photography, visit www.markconley.com or www.facebook.com/markconleyphoto or call 612-756-0313.

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