Interview: Photographer Martin ‘Sensual::Bokeh’ (Germany & Netherlands)
Can you tell us a little about you?
I’m a freelance photographer based in Germany and the Netherlands focussing on fashion, glamour and fine art photography. I was born in 1965 (yes I’m an old guy I know *lol*) in Germany and now live in Amsterdam and in Bochum.
How and when did you get into photography?
I got my first camera still back in the film days and was inspired by travel photography and pictorials ins magazines like National Geographic. I travelled a lot since then and always loved to capture the atmosphere of foreign places with my photography. With the switch to digital I also started with people photography, and over time this really became my passion, I enjoy creating emotional visuals together with beautiful models and the immediate feedback from digital photography including the endless possibilities of post processing.
What does photography mean to you?
Photography is a passion and I really enjoy looking at and creating beautiful pictures. For me it is the perfect escape from my daily management job into a totally different world of creative challenges. Photography is not my main job, even though there were and are moments when I thought about making that switch. I think I’m afraid of loosing the luxury to take pictures that I like and not what clients like, but maybe my perception is wrong and it is possible to combine those two things. What I love in particular about photography is that it offers a unique combination of technical and creative aspects. Coming initially more from the technical side (I have a degree in Physics *smile*), I always was inspired by beautiful fashion or glamour pictures, and creating such visuals has become a real passion for me.
Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.
My style is constantly evolving as I love to try new things all the time, but I think there are certain elements that I like and that I always use. Beautiful bokeh is certainly one of these elements. For me this is a fine balance between having a recognizable signature look of my pictures but still evolving and growing and trying new things. For example in the past my signature look was high key with very soft flash fill lights. I did that for several shoots but at one point found it boring and got more into harsh contrasts or later into available light photography. And the same applies for the post processing style, which has become at least as important as the shooting part of the whole workflow. Today I try to use all different elements of photography to create the specific picture style that I envision for each shooting and post processing.
Where do you get inspiration from?
I love to browse pictures on social media and magazines like Modellenland J and get inspiration from beautiful pictures there. In today’s world of a massive overload of pictures I spend milliseconds on most pictures but there always are a few that pop out and make me stop and look at them for a longer time. And that happens for different reasons, it can be the color, the framing, the model or many other things. I am always fascinated to see how many really good photographers and retouchers are out there creating beautiful pieces of art. This definitely is a big source of new ideas and new styles and looks to try for me.
Think you in advance what you want in the picture?
Yes and no, sometimes I have a very specific look in mind and I prepare the shoot in every way to achieve exactly that. And sometimes I just enjoy getting the inspiration of the moment for new looks and styles during the shooting together with the model.
Studio, on location or both?
Both, but recently my preference is clearly to work on location
Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?
Well, that’s a difficult question to answer, as the word hobbyist for me always has a negative touch of poor quality beginners pictures. I think that has changed today, but for me the perception is still there. So my aspiration is to create professional pictures but right now this is not my main source of income.
What has been your most memorable session and why?
Hmm, I think most shoots I had are memorable but for all different kinds of reasons. I try to avoid doing the same thing again and again with different models but rather look for new locations or different places and unique lights each time I plan the shoot. This is part of the creative process for me and makes each shoot somewhat unique and memorable.
Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?
I am using Nikon cameras for ages, and I always loved their quality and professional touch (in fact I still do). I was disappointed, however, that they never made the right switch and launched a professional mirrorless camera. Probably because they were afraid to cannibalize their bread and butter business, which is quite sad as I believe they are loosing loyal customers to other brands, like me. I therefore recently invested in parallel into a Sony A7R3 and A7S2 with a set of lenses and really like to work with these cameras. I’m still using both systems, and have not yet decided whether I will switch back to one of them. My favourite lenses for both systems are the 35mm, 50mm and 85mm lenses with the 1.4 aperture.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?
I think it is really important that you do what you like and what gives you the kick and then hope that potential customers like it as well. At least for me it would not work if I would only focus on pictures that my customers like but not me. And I think it is important to find something to stand out of the huge crowd of great photographers, which if course is not easy J
What do you think of our new magazine?
I really like the new Modellenland magazine with the variety of high quality creative pictures and as said above it is certainly one source of inspiration for me.
Amber Karis Bassick
Amber Karis Bassick