I’ve always been a water baby, and even in the beginning of my career I can see it coming out a lot in my work.
Any photographer will tell you that shooting is a tough gig… And that shooting underwater is even more difficult… Good thing for Jenna Martin, Montana gals tend to be tough.
In your “To Dream a Dream” collection, how much of the effects are achieved on the shoot vs. in post?
It is actually an even combination of both – I shoot all of the photos separately, and then combine them later into one final, composite photograph. Certain pieces, like “Serenade for the Lost” are only six combined photos, while others, like the ones from my “Surreal Fashion” collection consist of hundreds of photos, if not more.
In the “Surreal Fashion” collection, are these actual garments, or does the name refer more to the shooting style/background?
These are not actual garments. Each “garment” was created using a single item. The piece “Mithril” was comprised of photographs of individual needles. That one definitely took some time.
“In Bloom” seems to be the biggest departure from your usual style, what inspired this particular collection?
My Mother-in-Law owns a small shop in Downtown Billings that sells unique furniture and home decor. For the spring art-walk, she was looking for some interesting art pieces that would go along with the store’s theme for the night, which all revolved around spring flowers. I had just gotten a new camera and learned about the double exposure feature, so I really wanted to see what I could do. I wandered around a plant nursery for the day taking double exposure photos of people and flowers, and “In Bloom” was born!
A lot of your work uses water as an important element, your underwater photography being the most prominent use. How did you develop this working relationship with liquid?
I think it was always there, this relationship. I’ve always been a water baby, and even in the beginning of my career I can see it coming out a lot in my work. I always have people or things floating in the air, many of my photos revolve around water. When I finally started shooting underwater, I realized I was completely hooked. It felt like coming home. I knew this was exactly what I wanted to do.
Tell us a bit about building your own camera housing… Seems a potentially expensive challenge.
It was actually pretty cheap! I went through about six different prototypes. Eventually, I made it out of a large piece of PVC pipe, a coupler, some plexiglass and a lot of binding agents. I’d put my camera inside, set an automatic shutter release to just keep firing, lodge it under a ladder in a hotel pool and dance around in front of it until my card was full. Then I’d go home and go through thousands of photos to see if I got one that worked. My very, very first underwater experiment took place in a hot tub. The second I saw the photos, awful as they were, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t wait to shoot again!
From someone with a bit of experience working with models, putting them underwater makes me think of big headaches in more than one department. How do they work in these conditions, and how do you manage hair/make-up and other time consuming elements of the shoot with this hurdle? Underwater models are a different breed altogether. It seems like it would be a glamorous job, but it’s really pretty miserable at times. Fortunately, the vast majority of the models I’ve worked with are from Montana, and these girls are tough. I can put them in freezing water in a huge dress that’s trying to drown them and they’ll shoot for hours without even a peep of a complaint. So I think I’ve gotten pretty lucky in that area..
…Underwater modeling is really difficult though, so there’s a lot I try and prep them for. I teach them how to breathe so they can sink and better maneuver under the water, as well as other things to be conscious of, like their facial expressions and body position. They have a lot to learn in a short period of time, and they do a really awesome job of powering through. Hair/make-up and everything else is definitely time consuming, and underwater shoots tend to be more time consuming than regular shoots in general anyway, so it all really adds up. It’s important to plan for as much as I can, but it’s also important to stay calm when things go wrong. Water can do some strange things, and if a certain component isn’t working like I thought it would I’ve got to just let it go and move on to something else.
You can see more of Jenna’s work here:
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/jennamartinphoto Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jennamtphoto
Periscope (I broadcast live underwater photoshoots and editing sessions here): http://www.periscope.tv/jennamtphoto
YouTube (I have videos here showing the editing process): http://www.youtube.com/jennamartinphoto