Heather Elder Represents
Reps Journal

David Martinez's Relationship with the Personal Project

David Martinez writes about his ongoing relationship with personal projects and how they take on a life of their own. Unlike a commercial shoot, personal projects don’t have due dates or official beginnings and endings, however, Martinez enjoys the process of growth they bring to his work. Read more of his thoughts here.

“When I’m working on a commercial shoot, there is usually a fairly defined beginning and end. We get a call from an Art Buyer – have creative calls, create treatments and estimates, move into production, shoot, retouch and deliver final files. There is a clear and often very linear timeline. It’s gratifying, busy, fun, and productive. Working on a personal project has a different rhythm to it. There is no clear beginning and end – it evolves and changes and never really ever finishes. Some of my personal projects you could probably say that I’ve been working on my entire career. My most recent personal project appears to have no end in sight.

I’ve been surfing for the past 25 years and I live close to the ocean in San Francisco. Being in the ocean has become a part of daily routine – a home away from home when I travel. In the past few years, I’ve become more aware of the changes in our ocean’s ecosystem – the barrage of plastics and pollutants that have also come to call our ocean home. I had a building desire to do something to care for the place that has provided me so much solace in my own life. I had a lot of ideas of how I could help – I started interviewing surfers on what they do to take care of the ocean (using less plastics, beach cleanups, etc). I started going to Surfrider Foundation meetings – an environmental organization that aims to protect and preserve the world's oceans.  My first short – seen here – was shown at a Surfrider Event that raised public awareness about the responsible use of plastic. After the event, I had a strange feeling. My film had been shown, the audience had clapped, people seemed to learn a bit more about what they could do to be better citizens of Planet Earth. I didn’t, however, feel like it was an end. I felt like it was a beginning.

And so my personal project has continued to evolve. There is no ‘martini shot’ at the end of the day – no ‘that’s a wrap’ yelled by the producer. I’ve had to get accustomed to this non-linear timeline. My personal project has many facets – I’m continuing to profile local environmentalists, I make pictures of the ocean that try to show it at its most beautiful and sometimes fragile and sometimes strong.  This personal project is organic and changing and something that seems to grow in strength as time goes on.”  David Martinez