David Martinez Brings a Balance of Light and Zen for Marriott
David Martinez believes creating still and moving imagery is about taking out what isn’t needed to reveal the essential. He does this by paying particular attention to balancing all of the vital elements of a shot. In his imagery for Marriott, David presents a balance of composition, light, and pure happiness. His latest work bears the quintessential David Martinez stamp – minimalistic perfection. We were part of the journey from the beginning and wanted to know how the rest of it unfolded.
Your client for this shoot was Marriott. You helped launch their new Bonvoy brand. What direction were you given to create a vision for them that was different than the regular Marriott brand?
This project was somewhat different from a regular Marriott brand shoot in that it was in conjunction with a Chase credit card. The concept was less about the Marriott property and amenities itself and more experiential about the freedom and fun that the Bonvoy card gives you.
This project was a fast turn around job. You received the specs, provided an estimate, and had the job approved and were on an airplane within days. Some would say you were lucky to pull it off. How did you prepare for all of that with so little time?
We had seven days of production time from when the project was green-lit to when we traveled. My biggest asset for getting this done was a stellar crew – my agent, my producer, and my entire team got everything prepped and ready in a week.
I always want to create environments that allow for serendipity. I believe that it’s not luck that makes a spontaneous picture – or shoot – happen, but careful consideration of environment, light, talent, and production. The tech scout was crucial. I was able to figure out what location would be right at what time of day so we could count on beautiful natural light for each scenario. Since there were so many scenarios in each shoot day; we were shooting both video and stills. We knew we had to rely on great light and without too many time-consuming light modifications. Great planning prevailed.
You have always said that you are humbled to see how many people are involved in creating one single frame. Did you feel the same way on this project?
Yes. Every single crew member was crucial on this job. In the beginning, I relied heavily on my agent and producer. We were able to move quickly and nimbly, from getting estimates and treatments done in record time to securing a full production crew traveling from California to Aruba in less than a week.
We had to be mindful of our crew size because we were flying everyone there. A smaller crew meant that I couldn’t bring in a second video crew in addition to my stills crew. My photo crew had to be able to manage video as well. I kept my team small – two photo/video assistants and a second shooter only. I don’t typically shoot stills and video at the same time – but on this production, it was necessary because of our shot list and schedule. It was great to be able to focus on stills while my second shooter concentrated on video. I stepped up to become director of both mediums; made possible by stepping away from the technical parts of the motion camera setup.
The other necessary component on this job was the ability to have multiple camera setups for each type of scenario. We had five to six cameras set up to each shoot something different. We had an underwater video camera, underwater stills camera, a camera for slo-mo, among others. It made it faster to move from scene to scene when we tailored each camera to what we were shooting.
You have said that photography and filmmaking is really about a type of minimalism- how to convey complex ideas in a distilled image or short video piece. Which images and videos on this shoot represent that best for you?
To me, some of my favorite images were of the family at sunset. These images represent the simplicity and minimalism I try to create in every photo. For this shot, I had considered when the light would be best and what background would look the best in that light. The family had a great natural energy that I had seen in casting, so it all came together beautifully.
Any memorable moments on the shoot?
I always love shooting in places that I don’t shoot all the time. I’ve shot in Aruba before and went back to one of my favorite BBQ places out in the red rocks where all the locals go and has great live music. I’m so lucky to have a profession that allows for such adventures – and delicious ribs!
A special thanks to Quigley-Simpson and to Deb Grisham for making this happen!