March 5, 2012

Interview: Kerstin Martin

Plain & simple, I just love Kerstin Martin's photography. She captures beauty and grace so effortlessly. I am so delighted to share our chat here today. Please meet:

When did you begin to develop an interest in photography? Take me back to those first years and if you could, tell me about the paths you explored to expand on your craft.

Although I have taken photos all of my life I am a latecomer to photography as a form of artistic expression. Blogging and the advent of the digital camera is where it all started and after seven years I cannot imagine life without either my blog or my camera/s. I love the instantaneousness and spontaneity of digital photography and the art of digital editing. To me, photography is as much about using my camera to capture a moment in time as it is about the creativity of post processing. I get a lot of pleasure out of playing around with layers and filters and using them to deepen the mood or feeling of that captured moment. 

My DSLR has also led me down the unexpected path of real estate photography. I love taking photos of homes and using light and composition to bring out the best of someone’s property. You can read more about that process and how it all started at

 Along the bike trail, Hadley, MA (2011, iPhone/camera+)

Do you feel as though your photos reflect or reveal pages of your own story? How so?

Always. My photography pretty much chronicles my life. Not just where I am at physically but also my moods, dreams and longings. My soul really. When I take photos I don’t think much about the composition or how to get the perfect shot. I usually ‘see’ something and am moved to capture the essence of that moment. I often look for recognition, a soul connection on a level of sub-consciousness that I cannot quite explain, but that I often find during the post editing process. What my photos really do is tell the story of my life, helping me infuse my experiences of the world with the essence of my soul.

On a practical level I have been creating annual photobooks for my husband for the last eight years and we love browsing through them and reminiscing on all the things we’ve done, the places we’ve been to, the emotions we experienced.
 Dinner at a friends house, Seattle (2009, Nikon D80)

What do you love to photograph most? If you had to step out of your comfort zone, what would you photograph?

My subjects are extremely varied, as is my style. I don’t actually think that I have a style; I am a somewhat complex person and that is reflected in my photography.

As for my comfort zone there are two things that challenge me big time: artificial light and portrait photography. I deal with the former on a regular basis with my real estate photography as homes here in New England tend to be quite dark inside and I have to use my flash a lot of the times. This required me to get very familiar with my camera’s different flash settings and after finding one that works really well I am feeling more confident about interior lighting. And eventually I hope to invest in a proper strobe light or such.

Portrait photography actually scares me. Because I am a photographer people always assume that I naturally take portraits, too. Last year a couple of colleagues asked me to take their pictures and insisted on paying me, too. I felt like such a fraud! What I find most challenging is the interaction with my subject and keeping them motivated and thinking of different poses while figuring out the best composition, light, and camera settings. What saved me in the end is a fantastic app called Portrait Professional. Seriously, that app can turn Maggie Thatcher into Angelina Jolie. Well, not quite, but close enough!

Smith College Pond, Northampton, MA (2012, iPhone/camera+/instagram)

Would you share three simple practices you have for framing and capturing a shot?

I don’t really have a specific practice for framing and capturing a shot. I do use my camera’s built-in grid to stabilize horizons and horizontal or vertical markers, and I also try not to have too much white space. Depending on the light conditions I don’t always see my results until I have downloaded the images. And I will often make corrections and also crop my images during the post editing process. To me, this is very much an intuitive process where I snap something and I know that it is a good image when looking at it "feels" right.

London images (2011, iPhone/instagram, Polaroid SX70)

When do you feel most inspired to go shooting?

I love going on photo safaris with friends. Unfortunately there is no-one like that here in Massachusetts but when I still lived in Bellingham, WA, I often ventured out with Maddie ( who is a phenomenal photographer and artist. I loved how differently we captured the same subjects and scenes. Another such person is my mother who lives in Germany but visits me for a couple of months every year. She took up photography a few years ago and we often share our experiences and photo tips when we skype, and when we are together we love nothing more than go exploring with our cameras.

My 70-year-old mother at the Skagit, WA, tulips fields (2008, Polaroid 645CL)

How will your photography grow in 2012? What is something new you might try to expand on your craft?

Over the last year I have mostly been using my iPhone (am kind of addicted to instagram and camera+) because it’s so easy but I’d really love to play more with analog film, specifically the wretched Impossible film. I have four polaroid cameras and no old film stock left. The Impossible film is expensive and I got discouraged because I seemed to waste good money on terrible photos. So I would love to find a great online class where I could learn how to shoot better analog images. I welcome suggestions!

Musicians at Columbia Rd Market, London (2011, iPhone/instagram)

Kerstin, thank you so much for sharing parts of your photographic journey with us here today! I cannot wait to see where your travels take you and the photos you will capture along the way :)

Originally from Germany, Kerstin spent most of her adult life living abroad in Miami, Vancouver, London and Bellingham, WA. In 2005 she moved to Western Massachusetts with her American husband and their fluffy grey cat. Professionally she is a bit of a Jill of All Trades and her jobs have included flight attendant, director of an online dating agency, hotel manager and corporate sales. These days she works part-time as a secretary at a beautiful New England college and freelances as a Real Estate Photographer. She muses about life's inner and outer journeys at Conversations Over Soup and you can also find her on Flickr and on instagram as kerstin_m.

*All photos have been posted with the permission of Kerstin Martin.

1 comment:

Cathy said...

Bella, I loved this interview. In fact I love all of them! Thanks so much for doing these!