David Martinez: Unstudied Authenticity
There is an exuberant feel to the work of photographer David Martinez. His people look genuinely happy, and no matter their age they seem to exemplify a youthful spirit and joie de vivre. Flipping through his portfolio makes you want to be one of those smiling, attractive, self-possessed individuals enjoying a coffee or a quick hug in a piazza.
Shiny Happy People—Really
What’s missing from these photographs is the slick artifice of perfectly cast above-average pretty people pretending to be a family, or best friends forever. You believe David’s images because the chemistry is real.
Depending on the size of the production he likes to present people with situations in which they can feel authentic. “I try to make the situation so real that they get lost in it [and] then I can become invisible, which is my goal,” Martinez says.
“It’s fun for me to play with people and make a real human experience. I’m kind of an eternal optimist,” he claims. “I try and keep that there as much as possible. It’s almost more fun to take two people who don’t know each other and put them together.”
What shape has David’s creative evolution taken?
“I think about it from a personal level. We live in a very youth-oriented culture and there is a lot to be said about coming to a place in your life where you really know yourself. I’m making images that ring true for me,” he explains. “When you’re 20 you look at trends, and I tried to follow them and see what people wanted to see. I know myself in a way that I never have before so that’s allowed me to be freer about how to express myself because I feel more confident. I am kind of a sponge, I love information and I love hearing and seeing new things. They help me keep relevant.”
One recent large-scale project that has taken David around the world is a library of photography for Princess Cruises’ rebranding. Sometimes he will set up a scene and other times he’ll photograph a person or group and ask for written permission later. It’s a freer style of working that has influenced his production work.
Keeping It Real
He believes people are responding to this styled-down authenticity. Increasingly, he will be given a situation, such as a road trip, and be assigned to photograph all aspects of that road trip. There are hero images that come from it, and a vast number of images that fall into various lifestyle categories.
“There is no comp to shoot for, that trend as a style,” David explains. “I’ve been waiting my whole career for that to happen. It rings true to my style.”
Technology has made it possible to shoot in many situations where you couldn’t before. “If it is not such a big deal, people are more relaxed,” David says, of shooting on-board a cruise ship, using natural light.
David just redid his portfolio and added a lot of new work with this approach and energy in mind. He extended that approach to a new series entitled Body. It is refreshing to see natural looking women whose skin glows from good health and whose proportions are not magnified by Silicone, or fillers or excessive makeup. “I’ve always photographed the human form throughout my whole career. I photographed the San Francisco Ballet, and when I did more editorial work I photographed healthy, athletic women,” says Martinez. “I wanted to make some pictures that were beautiful, make the skin look glowing and beautiful. We maybe removed a couple of tattoos and that was all. They were shot with natural light. My hope is that if people see those images they will see authenticity, not a lot of artifice. I am taking the beautiful human form, and showing it.” Women more desirous of setting realistic standards of beauty are certainly thankful.