Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lunch With Marty

I met with photographer Allen Martin of MartiniVision for lunch at McCoul’s a few weeks ago to talk about his work. As he enjoyed a delicious blackened chicken and gouda sandwich he told me, “I’ve always been in visual arts and I’ve always had a camera but I didn’t start shooting seriously until five years ago.” Martin does both fashion and art photography and believes, “At its best they [arts and fashion photography] blend together and become indistinguishable.”
Martin, originally from Greensboro, moved to New York because he needed more than Greensboro had to offer, a sentiment common among Greensboro natives. Martin’s father owned a type setting business and Martin ran the dark room. Once Martin left for New York he took his experience in the dark room with him to become an art director. As an art director in New York Martin had to, “separate fine art from commercial art. Commercial art became a way to make a living.” During his stint in New York Martin produced all the print tourism ads for Turkey tourism from 1994-1996.
Martin eventually left New York. Since his return to Greensboro Martin has been impressed with the state of the town, “With a city of its size I’m impressed with the talent and creativity of the people here. I feel now the [arts] scene is more crystallized and focus then it was before I left.”
A typical photo shoot begins with Martin discussing with his models every detail of the shoot, down to wardrobe or the lack there of, before they even meet. If it’s a fashion shoot a stylist may be involved but in most cases it’s just Martin and the model. The ideal model for Martin is someone who is capable of fashion photography but also open to artistic work as well as someone who has their own style. Beauty and intelligence are also necessary for a good model.
Film noir has been a major influence in Martin’s photography, “I really like the feel of classic film noir. The lighting and composition of those old black and white movies catches my attention. I also like the true Americana in it.” Noir can be seen in his fashion photography, which is very European in tone and feel, as well as his art photography, which can be dark but never delves into horror, sci-fi, or gore.
As for upcoming projects, “I'm currently shooting a series I'm calling Noirotica . It's Erotic more in subtext, than in blatant, obvious visuals. Think Sam Spade, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James M Cain and Lew Archer. Think Maltese Falcon, Touch of Evil, Night and the City and Double Indemnity. My studio was formerly a group of insurance offices. And by "formerly", I mean the 1940s. It looks it too. It's not really a fetish series, but it's kind of leaning that way. It's black and white.”

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