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Miami journalist/photographer turned tragedy into book of inspiration

By Lisa Petrillo

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    MIAMI (WFOR) — For more than 40 years, Mark Potter was a Miami-based veteran of network TV news, an investigative journalist on the front lines.

“I covered everything from you know, Pablo Escobar, the Colombian drug war, Mexican drug war, the border wars and on and on,” he said.

In 2016, Potter embarked on a well-earned retirement, but that wouldn’t last long.

“One month after my retirement, my wife Judith and I got the catastrophic news, that she had high-stage ovarian cancer. We went right into full-time cancer care,” Potter said.

That cancer care lasted three years until she passed away in 2019.

“It was usually a 14-hour day. I was a full-time caregiver. I gave up everything because it was an honor to do it. But it took a toll on me too,” Potter said.

He said Judith saw it too.

“Judith said ‘listen, if you’re going to survive this, in your attempt to help me survive, you need to get out of the house a little bit each day to get away from cancer’,” said Potter.

He took on a daily pre-dawn hobby, capturing Florida’s beautiful sunrises and wildlife in photos. Soon something happened that he didn’t expect.

“When I started to post my photos just for something to do on Facebook and Instagram, I started getting a reaction from other people who said ‘Wow, these photos help us. Can we have some more?’,” Potter explained.

It fast became a symbiotic relationship between Potter and his Facebook friends. He didn’t even know some of them and yet they wanted more, asking him to publish an actual photo book.

“I would say I ain’t doing no ‘fufu’ photo book, I’m a hard news guy. But then I grew up, I matured, and I realized, wait a minute, they’re asking for something,” he said.

The result is his just released book “Sunrise: A Photographic Journey of Comfort, Healing and Inspiration.”

That title, he says, sums up the project for him.

“My photos, which are upbeat and colorful, all started from tragedy,” he said. “They started from tragedy but they didn’t end up that way, miraculously.”

One photo of two birds flying through a golden sunrise brings him peace.

“I see in that photo, Judith and me together. I see us flying past the sun,” he said.

CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo asked him how he was doing now.

“I’m good. But as you can hear in my voice it’s still an emotional topic,” he said, his voice slightly cracking. “This was a huge loss. But the response that I’ve gotten is also a cause for emotion. But it’s happy emotion.”

Potter still goes out every morning waiting for the moment when darkness turns to light. He calls it ‘Magic Time’ and says no one should miss it.

“It’s a technicolor movie in the sky. That’s just magic How does that happen? I can’t fathom how anybody would want to sleep in and miss that,” he said.

“Sunrise. A photographic Journey of Comfort, Healing, and Inspiration” is now out wherever you buy books.

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