Faith, photos, finances unite couple

Published 10:12 pm Thursday, August 23, 2012

Faith brought Mark and Caroline Collie together. Then it settled them in Washington. The couple owns Quiver Tree Photography, a gallery in the Inner Banks Artisans’ Center. (WDN Photo/Mona Moore)

Mark and Caroline Collie say the number one reason most missionaries leave the field is due to finances. They were no different.
“We definitely are a part of that statistic,” Mark said. “But, we’ve seen God manifest in different ways.”
One way came in 2011 when the couple found themselves owing $5,000 to the IRS. Because Mark is a legal alien, Collie family taxes are complicated and require the help of professionals.
The wife of a certified public accountant happened to be researching an unrelated topic and came across Caroline’s blog post about their tax woes. She was familiar with nonprofits and asked her husband, who agreed to redo the Collies’ 2010 taxes at cost. He discovered the Collies had been filing their taxes incorrectly since 2007 and amended them.
“We ended up with God writing out a $5,000 refund to us,” Mark said.
The money could not have come at a better time, said Caroline.
“It was awesome,” she said. “My blog has paid for itself a thousand times over.”
The couple met in Edinburgh, Scotland. Caroline had moved there to study at theological ethic at the University of Edinburgh and help start a nondenominational Christian church. Mark was one of the church’s first congregation members.
“Mark and I met one week after I got there,” Caroline said.
When Mark took Caroline home to South Africa to meet his parents, he proposed.
Caroline started her blog, “With love from here,” in South Africa and used her husband’s photographs on the web page.
The response to the photographs inspired them to launch Quiver Tree Photography.
“That was how we made our first sale,” Caroline said. “That was a really big boost, that $11.”
They have kept their fine art competitively priced at Quiver Tree because they want it to be accessible to everyone.
Mark has a journalistic style, preferring candid shots to the posed studio shots. The style has helped his wedding photography and family portraits stand out.
Mark said he learned to appreciate photography because of his kids. The couple has a 4-year-old, Asher, and an 18-month-old, Blake. They are expecting another in November.
The kids also taught him when to put the camera down. If you’re constantly behind the camera, you’re not enjoying life, you are observing it from the outside looking in.
The perspective carries into his work. Regardless of the wedding package, Mark spends the entire day with the bride. Before the wedding, he and Caroline befriend the couple so that they understand the couple and what will wow them when they see the photographs.
When he shoots kids, the first 10 minutes of the session is without the camera. By the end of session, he’s usually playing and laughing with his subjects. The end product is what Caroline calls, “magic.”
After living in Scotland and Africa, family brought them to Washington. Caroline grew up here and returned to marry Mark at First United Methodist before moving to Africa.
She said she was afraid to come back to a small town after living in two beautiful places abroad.
“But, you can be in the most beautiful place in the world and still be sad,” she said.
“And lonely,” added Mark. “You can have a beautiful home and material possessions, but really, it’s your friends and family that will speak to your happiness.”
Mark said he loves the friendliness and values he has found here. He also appreciates how generous people are with their time.
“People are really genuine here,” he said.
The church that brought them together brought them home to Washington. Mark landed a part-time position as director of Global Impact Resources in Greenville.
“I like to say they sowed Caroline into the ministry field and got me as a harvest,” Mark laughed. “I’m not sure if it was a good harvest or a bad harvest. But at least they got something.”
To view Mark and Caroline’s photos, visit