Mexican born and based photographer Jaime Martinez is pushing boundaries with his experimental art work. From his darkly foreboding women, to his energetic live music montages to his inspiring and witty animated gifs, 31 year old Martinezâs photography betrays a unique new angle. His surreal images invoke a dream like state where absurdity reigns and a romantically haunting atmosphere prevails. The vividness of colour in Martinezâs photography is reminiscent of the traditional sun drenched Mexican backdrop, and his images seem to come to life with all the vigor of Mexican culture, portraying joy in movement and discovery. Jaime took some time out to give this exclusive interview.
How did your interest in photography first form? Was it something you were interested in from an early age or did it come later on in life?
It first started when my father gave me a second hand reflex camera as a gift. He was always buying stuff from the flea markets and one day I got that from him. I was about 13 or 14 years old. At that time I was also very interested in astronomy so I learned how to use the camera to take photos of the sky. We used to have a couple of encyclopedias as kids, with basic themes. Every volume had 3 themes, one was about "Photography, Astronomy and Magic". I'm just realizing that maybe I mixed all three topics.
There appears to be a very strong female influence in your photography. Was it always a conscious decision to theme your work around the female form or was it something that came naturally to you and progressed through your interests?
As a kid and teenager I was super shy, I liked girls a lot but I was very timid to talk with them. So I guess in all that time I collected a lot of fantasies and dreams about women. Later I developed my social skills (thanks to the internet) and then i was able to start to materialize some ideas.
The composition of your photography is something that I've always admired, especially for its detail. Is this the result of putting the idea for an image down on paper and planning it out before shooting or is it more spontaneous and "in the moment"?
Thanks. It is very spontaneous. I have tried to draw and plan ideas on paper but I suck at that. I need to live the moment, to be there, to compose. I do it like that no matter if it is a real moment or a situation I want to recreate. I start with something in mind but always end up doing something different. It doesn't work like that all the time.
Would you say that there can sometimes be a message or a story told in your work?
For sure. But I never do a photo thinking of a message. Maybe a story yes, but not a message. I like it when people tell me their interpretations of my images, it is always a surprise. They tell me things that make sense but that i didn't plan to say that way.
You've recently started incorporating animated gifs into your work, bringing a really spectacular third dimension to your photography. What inspired you to explore this type of work?
Since I started to make photos I've always been experimenting and modifying them, whether with photographic techniques or with photoshop or other kind of montages. Sometimes when I see some of my photos for a long time i start to see that something is moving, like the clouds or the hair. So i wanted to give motion to a frozen moment. I like video but Im more into freezing a moment.
What cameras/equipment do you use?
I never care too much about great equipment or the latest lens, etc. I have a Nikon digital reflex, some early-90s snapshot 35mm cameras and one 3D camera.
You also photograph a lot of live music acts. Clearly you have quite a diverse taste in music! Do you think that this has allowed you to explore your music photography more freely rather then focusing your time and work on just one genre of music?
Yes, I do think I have a diverse taste in music, I like many genres. I mainly photograph only the acts I like. Maybe sometimes I like the performance but not the music so much, but i enjoy the concert anyway. There are also some bands I like a lot to ear but are not so interesting to photograph.
One of my favorite sets of photography is a series you did in 2004 showing half naked torsos with houses projected onto them. Could you tell us a little bit more about the meaning,inspiration behind that project?!
On my website I've only shown 2 photos from that series, there are like 3 more photos, but those 2 i liked the most. The meaning is open. The superficial inspiration was one snowy night in the house of an ex-girlfriend and some old photo slides. The deep inspiration was all the life problems I was having that summer, I was leaving Europe after a time of living there illegally and I was afraid about the future.
What is the key to never getting mentally or physically tired of what you do?
I'm not sure, actually I'm insanely watching and thinking images all day, in screens or in the real life. I close my eyes and there are images. I wake up and open my laptop before getting out of bed. I think i do get mentally tired of what i do, but i just keep doing it. Maybe the way of getting a rest is being away from the camera and the computer for a full day or two, but i don't do that so often.
Finally, whats next, in terms of any new projects you have or any aspirations you have in life that you would still like to work toward and achieve. Is there anyone you'd like to give a shout out to?
I will be working on more animated photos, maybe more landscapes and less females in my photos. I will have a couple of shows here in Mexico this year. Maybe I will travel and make a new project, I have some good proposals and we are making the deals. I will try to be a bit more away from the computer and go out to make new photos, even when this year has been very good for having a "virtual" career on the Internet.
Be sure to check out more of Jaime's work by visiting his official website here