Mark Baker’s world-renowned photography career began close to home at the Matamata Chronicle, but over the years has taken him to new places around the globe to cover some of the world’s most pressing matters.
Mark and his brother Simon followed in their Father’s footsteps. Harry, their Dad, was the long-time editor of what is now the Matamata Chronicle. Both boys saw the media as an interesting field, and so Mark went on to become a photographer for news and sports.
Mark worked his way up the career ladder gradually, beginning locally and then moving on to other publications in New Zealand, such as the Waikato Times, NZ Truth and Auckland Star.
Having plenty of experience under his belt, he then moved to Australia in 1987. He took up positions over the ditch at the Sydney News Ltd, Sydney Morning Herald and Reuters News Agency. He joined the Associated Press in 2003 and became their chief photographer for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.
In 1996, Baker won the Walkley News Photo of the Year award, Australia’s premiere photo award, for his coverage of the anti-nuclear stories in Indonesia, East Timor, New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific. He has also twice been New Zealand’s Sports photographer of the Year.
He has held the positions of Malaysia and Singapore chief of bureau for Associated Press, and Southeast Asia photo editor. The latter was based in Jakarta, meaning he was responsible for the photo operations in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.
Sports has been a common theme throughout his career, beginning with his love for rugby and one of his most precious memories: playing for the Matamata Rugby Club. This passion for sports is clear through the many stories he has covered during his career.
Over the span of a 25 year period, Baker covered 26 Australian Open tennis championships, three Wimbledon championships, 10 Olympic Games (both summer and winter), as well as five world swimming championships, five rugby world cups, two world athletics championships, two soccer world cups, and many other domestic and international sporting events.
He has also covered many important stories worldwide, including the Japan tsunami, the Christchurch earthquakes and army coup d’états in Papua New Guinea, Fiji and East Timor.
While his career has been nothing less than remarkable, he credits his upbringing in Matamata and his family, including his wife Toni and children Joshua and Catherine, for being where he is today. eHe