New Zealand Herald photographer Babiche Martens shoots predominantly for Viva and Canvas magazines. She has just finished fulfilling one of her dreams photographing and prop styling a gourmet cook book 'The Molten Cook Book', with chef Michael Van de Elzen.
Where are you based?
I'm based in Auckland I work full time as a Features photographer for the New Zealand Herald, shooting predominately for Viva and Canvas magazines.
How long have you been a photographer?
I've been working as a professional for about seven years although I graduated from my Bachelor of Design with Photography major in 2001
Tell us a little about your style of photography.
I photograph a variety of different subjects in my daily role from interiors and food to portraits and fashion so my style differs depending on the subject. I generally shoot quite dark and with a lot of contrast - even in my food photography. But I like to have fun with my portraits I enjoy shooting people in a slightly quirky manner and my favourite images usually have humour in them.
What gear do you use?
I use all Canon gear
What is/has been your greatest challenge as a photographer?
Probably the completion of the molten cookbook, just the commitment of it has been a challenge in itself. Both Mike and I work full time so many an endless Sunday was spent devoted to the cookbook. In addition to the photography I styled the props in the images to match the food so I would spend my Saturday sourcing and styling the following day's dishes. This spanned intermittently over two years. I loved every minute however and the sense of relief and achievement upon completion was just so rewarding.
What has been your most memorable assignment and why?
That was most defiantly a portrait series I shot for Canvas magazine in 2009. It was a story about people that had a strong interest with the Star Wars movies. I went into their suburban homes and photographed them in their kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms etc dressed as their chosen Star Wars characters. There was a community of them and every person had one character only. There were two Princess Leia's however, one slave and one regular... I met some interesting people to say the least and it was a wonderful opportunity to get some fantastic photographs.
If not a photographer, where would you see yourself?
Probably as some kind of stylist or art director or a Councillor!
If the chance arose, who or what would you most like to photograph?
I'd love to photograph for Rolling Stone magazine! I really enjoy photographing performers - actors and musicians as they are usually open to my ideas as to how I want the photo to look. I assume that because they are used to being photographed a lot they don't seem to be too hung up on looking perfect, but i guess generically they all look pretty good all the time anyway.
What tips or advice do you have for budding photographers?
I personally think it's a good idea to study photography at tech or uni to get started. Some people don't think it's necessary and there are a lot of fantastic photographers out there that are self-taught, but I think it will save you a lot of time! Go out and assist as many photographers as you can in the area that you're interested in. Persevere, photography is about talent but also maturity and experience. Learn about and understand light, understand the rules before you break them so you know how to break them well.
Has the advent of digital been beneficial or detrimental to professional photographers?
Have you seen the latest TVC by Luminux? The one about not needing to be a great photographer to take great pictures? I think this ad says it all.
Can you see clients moving from stills to video, with the advent of HD video capabilities in digital SLRs?
They are two separate mediums so I'm not sure how this would work... A still photograph is forever, something that can be poured over and re-visited. A movie is a series of moving images that flick past, I think this has less overall visual impact so probably not.
Are you a fan of using flash in photography?
I prefer using available light for portraits, fashion and food but flash definitely has its place. Working with small images on newsprint I quite often have to use flash in my photographs to clean them up because flat daylight can look muddy on newsprint especially if the image is used small. It depends on what end result I am trying to achieve really.
What meal would you cook to impress someone?
I love food and cooking lots of different styles so I don't really have a stand out dish but I always seem to resort to mussels or dahl when cooking for friends, (I literally ate my way through India when I went last year).. But I do make a pretty yummy tiramisu which has definately impressed in the past…
What do you do to get away from the grind/de-stress when things get too hectic?
I like to get out of Auckland as much as possible, and when I can't I like to stay in bed as being a full time photographer is very hard on the body! But I love nature and fresh air. When you live in the city and commit to the grind it's so easy to forget what's out there on our New Zealand doorstep, I love reminding myself. I also try to travel internationally as much as possible, for me I need to change my perspective as much as I can in order to see my world through fresh inspired eyes.
View Babiche's website here