MEET THE LEGEND: Michael LaMartin
Accomplished photographer and creative Michael LaMartin sheds light on his experiences and perspective
Originally from Washington (the state), well rounded creative Michael LaMartin has worn and continues to wear many hats. Constantly finding new ways to express himself, it seems there's never a dull moment in LaMartin's existence. We were lucky enough to get an in depth on the young photographer's story, and some words of wisdom for anyone pursuing their dreams.
Q: How and when did you get started?
A: "I had a visual communications class freshman year of high school- was kind of a snozz until about 3 weeks in when they gave us cameras for the first time & set us loose.
We were supposed to come back in 45 minutes with photos of basic stuff: leading lines, rule of thirds, the sort. I didn't come back until about 3pm. Mind you I left the classroom 2nd period & school ended at 2:15. My teacher was livid at first, but when I showed her my work she told me that if I made tutorials on the techniques & a write up of my work, I could create my own projects & she'd give me credit for them. After that I would come to my first class, hit the camera lockers second period & leave campus, rarely coming back before the next day. I'd go out & shoot everything, didn't matter what it was. Though my first real interests were exposure times with explosives.
I quickly realized that photography was a tool to learn how to see & think about light & time... after that it became a tool for learning about anything & everything- I love to learn, so it quickly took over most of my life. I photographed everything, every day. There was a 6 year stint where I left home without my camera a total of 4 times.Before that it was the first time I touched a pc. Tech can do whatever you want it to.... that's cool- especially now if you're an artist or creative."
Q: What keeps you motivated?
A: "Gratitude is #1. Always. I get to do what I love on my own terms- that alone gets me onto my feet each morning.
Second is access to evolving technology- every year we create more & more ways for creatives to express themselves.
Creative productions have never been in a better place- from outlet formats to the tools we have access to now. It creates a lot of saturation in the market but I don't mind- it means a lot of brilliant people are finally getting their hands on proper tools to create with.New equipment gets me excited- as it always forces me to learn the tool as well as a new way to approach projects in the future.
Really I'd say I'm more decisive than motivated.
I made the decision to work towards this career- 110%.I still can't see myself doing anything else, & that tells me failure isn't an option- I love the work & live for the process."
Q: Any other creative outlets and/or hobbies?
A: "Movement & sound. Aside from creative pursuit I've always had a love for movement.Started with breakdancing, moved through dance to bmx, martial arts, skating, climbing, parkour, gymnastics.I really really dig biomechanics- to me it's all the same. Nowadays I focus mostly on parkour as both an athlete, filmmaker & coach.
Dealing with an achilles rupture this spring though I've had a lot of downtime- so I've been a focusing a lot more on my music in my free hours.
Also plants. Plants. I love, love, love plants."
Q: How would you describe your style/technique? How has it evolved?
A: "Honest. I don't overprocess or exaggerate anything. I do my best to catch & share things exactly as they are/were.
Over time I'd say my photographic works have evolved into something more surreal- I've spent a lot of time with storytelling & personally I like images that are timeless & lack context or chronology. I still shoot mostly candid- but even when I set up images they are a bit abstract & it's that way on purpose. Most of my works now are fashioned to that of a dream. The rest of my work has evolved into its own beast... as a commercial shooter I started with shoes & a tent, now I shoot everything from backpacking shoots, rap concerts in dark & sweaty venues to rockets at NASA space launch complexes. Grand scheme... I started as a photographer- now it's ‘digital media’ i.e. photo, film, 360° imaging, 3D printing, branding, web design, DJing, music/sound production, projector mapping, you name it: if it involves creative work & some sort of electronic equipment, I'm probably there somewhere already or in the process of learning about how to apply it to my own work/business model. Moreover I've slowly been leaving the stand alone title of "photographer" and moving towards "Artist". I really just like to create.
I think the medium matters less than the message- & now we've got fifty million different mediums. It's overwhelming at times, but I love it."
Q: Who do you work with?
A: "The last 5 years I've worked primarily within the outdoor industry & have been all over the place in that realm.Nowadays I'm far more rounded: I work with brands & individuals alike. I feel like here is where I have to give a huge shout out to my team.Regardless of who I was working for or what I was shooting- I always need people to fill the frames. I'm lucky enough to be blessed with a network of beautiful people & athletes who are both great to work with & willing to put up with me as a director on projects- whether that's a on a mountainside, in someone's makeshift studio or on a hot day in the city."
Q: What’s your creative process?
A: "Consistency. The goal is to work so often & get so fluent with the tools at use that things can be made without thinking about "how".Sometimes I'll wake up in the middle of the night to hit the piano or write down some notes- but I rarely ever wake up & think "oh today I'm inspired."
No, moreso it's just a matter of getting up to do it- inspired or not. Inspiration comes on it's own time- but you have to be willing to do the work with or without it."
Q: Are you working on a project right now? If so, what makes it different from previous projects (if any)?
A: "Dreamstate dreamstate dreamstate. It's both a series of images & short visuals that are structured to that of a dream.
I think our dreams are one of the most undervalued pieces of the human experience- it's where we go to release, imagine & understand.It's been really hard for me to figure out the format but I think I've finally worked out the kinks.
Really it's a chance to convey shared human experience while also asking questions, sneaking in messages & giving my creative side a chance to run wild. Also about to release my first photobook: Home."
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years/ what are your plans for the future?
A: "I want to do a lot of things so that's hard- though I'd like to think I'll be somewhere south & or east of the US.... with a dog.
I've been working on tactical bag designs for photographers & athletes, which should be manifested and on the market within the next year or two.
By year five I'd like to have a whole line of daily carry gear for athletes & creatives who travel often. Camera/travel essentials, joggers, jackets, bags, the sort.Otherwise, I assume I'll be doing what I'm already doing, just at a higher level.
I've noticed that while things (struggles, successes) run in cycles- with every year of building there are suddenly more materials & people to work with- things change fast.
I'd really like to spend a few years with an agency- I might know how the art/creative end works, but there's a lot more to be educated on in the realms of industry & I think getting experience in that atmosphere would be really beneficial to my own path."