Mark Arbeit was Born in Chicago, Illinois, grew up in Northern California and at the age of 16, his family moved to Oahu, Hawaii. At 18, Arbeit enrolled in the University of Hawaii to study art and photography. A few years later, he decided to focus solely on photography and transferred to the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. During his third year there, he met the photographer Helmut Newton.
Upon finishing his studies, Arbeit moved to New York and was hired by Irving Penn as a photographic retoucher. After working for Penn, Arbeit moved to Milan to launch his own fashion photography career, photographing fashion and beauty editorial for Linea Italiana magazine, Donna, Amica and Vogue Bellezza magazine.
In 1985, he settled in Paris to further his career and expand his artistic boundaries. To explore the experimental side of photography, Arbeit and a few ambitious photographer friends from the Art Center formed a group called 'The Cauldron.' Its mission was simple: to take pictures that had never been done before. Arbeit chose focus as his tool and launched In & Out of Focus, a series where in the foreground, Arbeit focuses sharply on a flower and, in the background, an out-of-focus female nude, playing against the shape of the bloom.
Arbeit continued work editorially, splitting his time between Paris and New York, shooting fashion for French Vogue and Marie Claire, and portraits for In Style, People and Forbes. In 1992, he launched a second series, 'Artist Atelier,' a series of female nudes in painter/ sculpture studios in Paris.
In 2004, Mark, with his wife Pattariya and daughter Jariya moved to Hawaii. In 2007 Mark & Pattariya had a second child, Ocean Aka.
Arbeit spent the next 10 years in Honolulu, shooting fashion and celebrity editorials for local and national magazines. During this period, Arbeit worked on a new personal series, ‘Torso’, a surreal look at the female nude. In the studio, using a black background, covering the arms, legs and head, leaving only the torso exposed to a single light.
In 2012 Arbeit was invited to be part of an Artist-in-Residence in Belgium through Eye-Loco Gallery. For his subject, Arbeit chose ‘Photograms’, life-size photograms of female nudes lying on 4’x8’ silver gelatin photo paper, exposed with a flashlight and developed all in a darkroom.
Arbeit photographs have been displayed at the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin, Germany, in 2009 and 2019, represented by the Kaune Contemporary Gallery in Cologne, Germany, Clic Gallery in New York and LIGHTWORKS in Sydney, Australia.