Interview: Vicky Martin
Luca Curci talks with Vicky Martin, winners of PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE MONTH – MAY 2021.
Vicky Martin is an international award winning fine art professional photographer from the UK. Her first introduction to photography was whilst studying art and design at college in the 90s, she fell completely in love and found it to be a natural fit creatively, realising that this was what she wanted to do with her life she went on to dedicate her studying to photography. Initially she started out photographing in black and white but later moved on to color and now tries to utilise the color in her photographs to benefit the overall narrative. Since 2008 after Vicky was awarded a prestigious bursary she has been developing her professional career in photography. Notably she has had her work published and exhibited nationally and internationally, from Europe to the USA in solo and group shows and her work continues to garner many awards and nominations including Portrait Photographer of The Year 2020 at the Minimalist Photography Awards, Finalist at the Lensculture Art Photography Awards 2019, Winner of the Professional Beauty and Fashion Category at the Chromatic Awards 2018, Winner of the All About Photo Magazine Colors issue 2018, Winner of the Single Image in the Professional Fine Art Category at the 12th Julia Margaret Cameron Awards 2018 and Winner of the Professional Fine Art Series at 2016 Fine Art Photography Awards.
LUCA CURCI – What is art for you?
VICKY MARTIN – What a good question! Life is difficult and complicated, and art has always been something that both makes sense to me and allows me to make sense of the world. Over the years of being a photographer art has become an integral part of who I am. Photography has allowed me to find my creative voice and has given me a platform to share this voice from. When I was just starting out discovering photography, I realised almost immediately that, not only was this what I wanted to do with my life, it was a part of my life that I did not realise had been missing.
LC – What are you currently working on?
VM – I am currently working on a studio-based series entitled Hollywoodland. My endless fascination with classical Hollywood cinema, and the role of women within society that is propagated through the silver screen, has inspired this series. Hollywoodland is a series of portrait photographs that convey both the aesthetics of the era and the deeper issues of gender that began to surface particularly within the 1950s and 1960s.
LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
VM – My first introduction to photography was whilst studying art and design at college in the 90s, from there I went on to focus my studying and training in all aspects of photography. For many years I worked with manual cameras and 35mm film, processing my own B&W prints and using local printers for colour. I decided to change to digital around 2008 after finding it extremely difficult to continue with the processing side. I am self-taught in all aspects of digital, including photoshop, which has taken a number of years to adapt to, but I am always learning! Throughout my work I like to explore strong female characters, and the experience of being female is definitely the primary influence in my work. However, I also take inspiration from females portrayed in film, literature and pop culture, whether they are tenacious like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, curious like Alice from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, haunted by the injustices of patriarchal society like Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, or part of the studio system that produced idealised Hollywood blondes like Marilyn Monroe, all of which embody values and emotions that are, to a certain extent, universal to the female experience.
LC – Which is the role the artist plays in society? And contemporary art?
VM – The artists, I believe, reflects society, culture and history. Although art may be specifically created to explore a particular issue whether this be race, class or gender issues, or perhaps more recently in contemporary art, increasing climate concerns, I believe that all art subconsciously reflects the time period in which it was created. Although this is not the most poetic metaphor, the artist is almost like a sponge, soaking up the contexts and issues, whether publicly, politically or personally relevant, occurring during the creation of the piece. And this is what I believe is crucial to the role the artist plays in society: documenting history, not only the cold, hard facts of a certain day or event, but the personal and more nuanced emotional factors and responses to an object or subject. Art is a medium that gives a voice, not only to the artist, but to those represented within the piece of artwork, and I find it not only a privilege to have a means of expressing myself and my voice, but also a necessity.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
VM – I have always been drawn to portraiture and still life photography and, over the years, as I have honed my style throughout the various series that I have produced (predominantly focused on the female experience), I have noticed that my creative voice has become a lot stronger and more prominent. Although this has been a natural evolution, and one that I don’t really think about when I undertake a new series, on reflection I can definitely see this to be true.
LC – How do you choose your subjects? Is it a reasoned or an instinctive process?
VM – This is definitely an instinctive process! The subjects for the series I produced are influenced by a combination of my interests, the world around me and memories, which together form ideas that I instinctively react to in a way that creates an idea for a photograph – that then requires a lot more thought on how to make it into the best image I can produce.