is highly interested in modern architecture and the spirit of modern times. To him, a great picture must affect the viewer in an emotional as well as aesthetically way, both spontaneously and lastingly. Martin always strives to emphasize the composition of the image, the sharpness, and the lighting mood. Let us listen today to the story of his photographic journey through this interview.
Dear Martin, can you briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs.
I am 65 years old and have been retired for two years now, after 36 years as a teacher at a vocational school. I am married and have three children, all of whom are successful in their careers. Besides photography, I enjoy travelling and singing in a concert choir.
How has your history and life experiences affected your photography?
Which are your most important experiences that has influenced your art?
Photography had always been abundant in my family. That is why it was obvious for me to also become active in photography starting in my youth. At first, I mostly took souvenir pictures. I actively got into SLR photography in 1978. To be able to use high-quality Zeiss lenses, I made my entry into the CONTAX system with the Yashica FR I. I would spend many evenings and whole nights in my own darkroom to make black-and-white copies. In 2004, I entered the digital age with the CANON EOS 20D. The possibilities were so fascinating that I sold my extensive CONTAX gear with the RTS III and my many Zeiss lenses. Because of quality I then switched to the full format CANON EOS 5D. Through the EOS 5 D Mk II and the EOS 5DsR I have now arrived at the mirrorless EOS R with which I am very happy.
Please, can you describe your overall photographic vision.
A great picture must affect me in an emotional and aesthetical way, both spontaneously and lastingly. With architectural subjects I emphasize the composition of the image, the sharpness, and the lighting mood.
Why are you so drawn by Architecture and Abstract Photography?
My fascination for architecture photography was triggered by seeing the first pictures of structures by the Spanish star architect Santiago Calatrava. I actually noticed then that I had already taken shots of Calatrava before (in Sevilla and Lissabon), without knowing that the structures were his. I was struck by the creaturely patterns and fabrics that trace the boundary of architecture and sculpture. I have been following Calatrava’s work ever since but have also expanded to other architects. My goal is always to capture and interpret the character of the particular building in my photographs.
What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer?
Do you prepare carefully the locations where you are intending to photograph?
I select the locations and subjects for my architecture photography carefully and generally restrict my research to this selection. But I also want to be able to react spontaneously to the circumstances and capture surprising moments. When I go out, I often find it hard to pick one or two lenses, so I usually end up carrying around a chock-full backpack (TAMRAC Explorer 5x), plus a tripod. Still, more often than not it turns out that I forgot just the lens that I need for this particular occasion (like a fisheye…) at the hotel.
The best time for architecture photography is in the evening (during blue hour) or at night, when lighting effects come in. A centrally symmetric image composition with a pronounced vanishing point predominates in my pictures. To me, this radiates peace and stability.
What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?
I actually use a CANON EOS R with lenses ranging from 15 – 200 mm. Particularly important is my tripod, a Gitzo Mountaineer 3 with a Manfrotto 410 gear head, and grey and graduated filters by LEE.
What software do you use to process your images?
I use DxO to convert the RAW shots into the TIFF format (utilizing several presets I created). For the finalization (contrast, orientation, cut) and conversion into JPG I use Photoshop Elements 2020. Black&White-Processing with Silver Efex Pro 2.
Can you tell us something more about your work flow?
Even though I have always tried to diversify my photographic interests, architecture photography has clearly emerged as my focus. I am particularly drawn to modern subjects. A sturdy tripod and a tilt-shift lens (CANON TS-E 3,5/24mm II) are indispensable for this. The TS-E, in conjunction with the tripod gear head, has given my passion for photography a remarkable boost. When used with the tripod it forces the user to confront the subject more consciously and intensively, which I find almost meditative.
What is your most important advice to a beginner in Architecture and Abstract Photography and how do you get started?
Research is crucial. But even more important are patience and anticipation in selecting subjects and image composition, especially with changing lighting moods.
Who are your favourite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
There are so many photographers that excite me. That is not only true for architecture photography but also for other subject areas that are not the focus of what I do. Just as appealing and inspiring to me is the interaction in photographic communities such as Stern VIEW, fc and 1x, that often lead to meetings to go shoot together.
Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
It was a dream of mine to expand my intensive and precise examination of subjects to landscape photography. I was able to broaden my photographic horizon in this vein by travelling to Iceland in 2015 and the Lofoten islands in 2018.
My personal highlight was photographing the northern lights at the Lofoten in February. To witness this spectacle in person and to be able to photograph it was such an extraordinary experience for me that I was happy to overlook the adversities of the weather conditions.
Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?
My photographs of the Polytechnic University of Florida, Lakeland (of course by Santiago Calatrava) are especially close to my heart, because they represent the longest journey I ever took for a single subject. There was not a single person in sight on campus (just a few alligators), but it was fully lit… what a dream for me as a photographer!
I had contacted the press office in advance to arrange an interior visit, but had not gotten a reply… Then, on New Year’s Day 2017, I saw a police car parked at the entrance of the otherwise completely deserted campus. I approached the officer and asked whether I could take photographs inside. “It’s closed.”, he said. And after a brief pause added: “But I can get you inside.” Bingo!
Cristiano Giani PRO
Very wonderful images, Martin, Thanks for sharing.....
Dear Cristiano, thank you for your positive comment. It means a lot to me that you like it. Greetings from Martin
Arnon Orbach CREW
Dear Martin, very impressive and diversifed works all of the highest qualuty in term of composition and presenration, Great interview dear Yvette. Highly enjobale . My compliments.
Dear Arnon, thank you for your comment. It means a lot to me that you like the interview, my pictures and their quality. Best wishes, Martin
Daniel Springgay CREW
Martin Wonderful set of images quality quality quality. So well composed well done. Yvette great interview..well done, You know how to make words sing..
Dear Daniel, thank you for your comment. It means a lot to me that you like the interview, my pictures and their quality. My son, who stayed nearly a year in NYC, helped me with the translation ... Greetings, Martin
Congratulation Martin. I hope you are healthy and enjoy your hobby.
Dear Andang, thank you for your comment. It means a lot to me that you like it. Greetings, Martin
Wayne Pearson PRO
Absolutely magnificent work Martin, you are speaking "my language" regarding modern architecture, in my case abstract architecture. I love your work it is such an inspiration to those of us who addicted to shapes, structure, colours and textures, thank you for sharing, and thank you Yvette for your excellent interview.
Yvette Depaepe CREW
My grateful thanks to Martin for the interview and thanks to you to for your appreciation, Wayn. Best greetings, Yvette
Dear Wayne, thank you for your comment. It means a lot to me that you like the interview and my pictures. Greetings, Martin
Ein toller Beitrag, Martin. Es freut mich sehr, dass Du mit Deinen wundervollen und exzellent gestalteten Bildern die entsprechende Würdigung bekommen hast. Das war lange überfällig. Es ist gut und nur allzu verdient, dass Yvette Depaepe Deine Leistungen hier als "Photographer of the week" gewürdigt hat. Ich gratuliere Dir ganz herzlich dazu. Ganz herzliche Grüße, Herbert ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ A great contribution, Martin. I am very pleased that you have received the corresponding appreciation with your wonderful and excellently designed pictures. It was long overdue. It is good and all too well deserved that Yvette Depaepe has recognized your achievements here as "Photographer of the week". I sincerely congratulate you on it. Kind regards, Herbert
Yvette Depaepe CREW
Dear Herbert, thanks for your fine reaction on Martin's interview. Always a treat to me too to put some excellent photographers in the spotlights ;-) For sure a well deserved feature for Martin who I like to thank for the fine collaboration. Cheers, Yvette
Liebert Herbert, vielen Dank für deinen wertschätzenden Kommentar zu meinem Feature. Es tut gut, dieses Feedback von einem Fotografen zu erhalten, der ähnlich stark an Architektur interessiert ist. LG Martin
gratuliere Dir auch zu diesem spannenden Artikel über Dein Leben und Deinen fotografischen Werdegang. Photographer of the week ist ein weiterer Höhepunkt und eine besondere Würdigung Deiner Leistung. Ich erfreue mich immer an Deinen sehr exakt gestalteten und präsentierten Bildern. Nur weiter so. Lieben Gruß Wolfgang
Lieber Hans.Wolfgang, vielen Dank für deinen positiven Kommentar zu meinem Feature in diesem edlen Umfeld. LG Martin
Erhard Batzdorf PRO
Ja Martin, meinen herzlichsten Glückwunsch zu dieser ausführlichen und tollen Würdigung deiner fotografischen Arbeit. Deine umsichtige Vorbereitung, deine Begeisterung für Architektur und die Darstellung in allerbester Qualität kommt hier bestens zum Ausdruck. Liebe Grüße Erhard Yes Martin, congratulations on this detailed and great appreciation of your photographic work. Your careful preparation, your enthusiasm for architecture and the presentation in the very best quality is expressed here in the best way. Best regards Erhard
Lieber Erhard, vielen Dank für deinen wertschätzenden Kommentar und die langjährige Begleitung und Entwicklung meines fotografischen Stils. LG Martin
Herzlichen Glückwunsch Martin zur verdienten Auszeichnung!! LG Roland
Lieber Roland, vielen Dank für deine Glückwünsche, über die ich mich sehr gefreut habe. LG Martin