Martin Gonzalez’s Hypnotic Black and White Seascapes

All images by Martin Gonzalez. Used with permission.

Photographer Martin Gonzalez describes himself as a “regular dude with a camera.” He works during the week and like many others, makes photography a priority on the weekends and holidays. “I’ve always done photography for myself but if it inspires someone to grab their camera and get out there on the weekend that makes me quite happy.” says Martin. “I myself know how hard it is to get motivated to just get out and shoot.” And so his submission has really been a part of him finding his own photographic identity. 

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Why did you get into photography?

I first got into photography when I received a RX100 1. I initially had no intentions to take photography seriously but then found myself taking the camera everywhere I go. I really enjoyed how present and in the moment photography made me feel. As every photographer does when they first begin shooting, I was taking photos of everything. I soon learned there after that my favorite photography was a mixture of seascapes/landscapes. I loved being in solitude and left to my thoughts. Photography keeps me at peace.

What photographers are your biggest influence?

Sebastiao Salgado, Chris Burkard, and Ansel Adams have been my favorite photographers for some time now. I also enjoy Ta-Ku’s (also a musician) photography.

How long have you been shooting?

I began shooting 3 years ago.

Why is photography and shooting so important to you?

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I feel the most important aspect photography brings and more specifically landscape photography, is the soothing aspect it brings to my life. I thoroughly enjoy the process. The planning, location scouting, and finding a composition. Photography has taken me to places I would’ve never imagined finding myself at. I have been knee deep in Iceland’s Jokulsarlon, under the pitch black sky at Alabama Hills’ Mobius Arch, and covered in mud and perched on a rock at Mono Lake.  

Do you feel that you’re more of a creator or a documenter? Why?

When I think of my photography, I think of myself more as a creator more so than a documenter. In my mind, a documenter takes a scene as is and presents the scene through the photographer’s “eye”. With my landscape photography, it’s not as true to the original scene. Instead, I view scenes as a material in my process. I then post process and edit till I feel the photo I originally envisioned is complete.

What’s typically going through your mind when you create images? Tell us about your processes both mentally and mechanically.

My usual process when creating photos is getting to a location and scouting out the area for any interesting/prominent subjects. If I find a subject, I then analyze it from different viewpoints and look for interesting foreground or if it’s a seascape think about what type of shutter speed I’d like to use. Hopefully, once I’ve decided on a composition, the sun will either be setting or rising  and I begin shooting away. A good majority of my photos are taken on tripod and it can be limiting some times so I always try to be mindful and try to move around once I’ve gotten that first composition.

Want to walk us through your processing techniques?

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The processing used for my photos is juggled between lightroom, photoshop, and silver efex pro 2/viveza. If I’m shooting in a high contrast scene, I most likely will shoot 3 exposures and do an exposure blend in photoshop and then get to work on the photo in lightroom/viveza/silver efex pro 2.

Tell us about the project that you’re pitching, or your portfolio.

I’m an auditor at a public accounting firm and it’s been great BUT my real passion is photography and creating photographs.

3 years ago I received a RX100 mki as a birthday gift. Little did I know it would be my introduction to my passion of creating images. It first began as a side hobby but has quickly become a large part of my life. Making photographs of nature,landscapes, and the sea is now a commonplace and such a soothing aspect of my life. I appreciate the tranquility it brings me to my now hectic lifestyle.

Which brings me to where I am today, I graduated from college last fall and began my career in public accounting at the beginning of this year. This career, as great as it is, can be very overwhelming during the busy season (first 4 months of the year). Because of this, photography is more important than ever and serves as my mental refresher when the times get tough in my schedule.

During my busiest season, I told myself I would work on a project. My favorite and most accessible location to shoot is the coastline, so naturally the coastline became my subject. Every Sunday, because I worked Monday-Saturday, I photographed the coastline. I came away with 12 photos that I hope tells a story and is a cohesive body of work.

The body of work is my attempt of illustrating my mood and how long my first day of work was, which is why photos are given titles of a time. 6:30 am would be when I wake up, 9:30 PM would be when I finally get off.

The project’s title is “A day’s work’.

What made you want to get into your genre?

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I think it’s a combination of enjoying the solitude and peacefulness of nature along with its sheer beauty. To capture its beauty and then display it the way I see it is exhilarating and a gift that I really cherish.

Tell us a bit about the gear that you use and how you feel it helps you achieve your creative vision.

The main camera I use is an Olympus EM-10  body partnered with my favorite lens, the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8.  This lens, along with a 40-150 (plastic fantastic) f4-f5.6, sigma 60, and oly 25 makes up for a light and perfect setup. Micro four thirds is such a great system and I can hardly feel the system on my back. Due to this, I take my camera EVERYWHERE and don’t feel any type of strain on my back. I use an L bracket on my EM10 because I really do enjoy portrait orientation and an L bracket makes life so much easier. I use a Sirui tripod combo with carbon fiber legs.

What motivates you to shoot?

I think the age old saying of “you are only as good as your last shot” rings incredibly true. As a creative, I always strive to become better technically and compositionally. My drive to explore and travel also feeds into my motivation to shoot naturally. I want to do something with landscape photography and that “something” is still unclear. I feel like I barely scratched the surface with my last project. Landscape photography can be viewed as being objective (taking photos of something pretty) but I’d like to change that.

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