In the world of advertising and photography, there are always so many conversations about the project before anything is actually photographed. But many times, when the project is complete, we only show the images and do not tell the story behind the images. I thought it would be interesting to start a series of blog posts that do just that.
I have always said that David Martinez was one of the original library shooters. And, as I wrote about in a blog post on this subject, he was providing content long before anyone knew what to do with it! He has always shot with libraries in mind. For David, he absolutely wants to capture those hero shots, but in order to do so, he needs to direct a scene and from that scene will come the hero as well as all of the other support imagery.
Well, recently David directed a shoot on a beach in Baja. This shoot had special meaning for him. Read below for more information on why.
Was this a personal or commercial project?
This was a personal project that I’ve been wanting to do for YEARS! I have a deep + long connection with Baja California – my father took me on a fishing trip there when I was 10 years old. We spent 6 weeks on the Sea of Cortez – it’s one of my most vivid memories of childhood. I can remember the quality of the light, the magic of the desert meeting the ocean, and the scent of dry mesquite mixed with damp salt air. It’s a place I always come back to – I’ve brought my own daughter here. I always feel like my eyes open up wider in Baja.
Where were these images taken?
All of these images were taken around the town of San Jose Del Cabo and the coastal area of the East Cape. I’ve traveled in Baja so much that I know a lot of the locals and a lot of the best restaurants, surf breaks, and watering holes. I live near Ocean Beach in San Francisco – where the sun sets over the ocean horizon. We shot a lot of the beach images on Sea of Cortez where the sun sets in the mountains + not over the ocean – it creates a glowy light that is very different from when the sun sets over the ocean. It’s softer + sweeter in a lot of ways.
What was your vision for this shoot?
I wanted to create a group of images that conveyed the feeling that I’ve had while being in Baja. I wanted to show the warmth of place, the laid back elegance of the town, and the serenity of sea. There’s a real ‘wildness’ in Baja too – dirt roads, people-less beaches, and eclectic roadside restaurants. I always feel so free there – I hope these images capture this sentiment.
What was surprising about the shoot?
A day before our crew and talent were flying out to Baja – my producer got a call that the little boy in the family, Elijah, got the chicken pox. We postponed the shoot several days to make sure it was safe for him to fly. When we got down there, I was really concerned that he would be tired or uncomfortable during our stay (It was hot down there!). I could not have been more wrong. He was filled with energy + curiosity – even after having been sick for several days. It was so illuminating for me to see him react to what I’ve grown up with – he was fascinated by the ocean, the stars at night and all the eccentricities of the desert. Oh yeah, and the beach donkeys. Who doesn’t love those? Elijah is six years old and can’t really swim yet – but he can surf. He’s an amazing child and going to be an amazing adult!
Do you have a favorite image?
My favorite image is the one of Elijah sleeping on his dad’s chest. We had been out exploring all morning together and we came home to make lunch. When we went to get Elijah – we found him asleep sitting up at the counter in the kitchen. His dad picked him up without waking him and took him to lie on the couch. His mom said he never falls asleep like that – he was pretty worn out from all of the excitement. As a proud dad myself – this picture means a lot to me. The connection between father + child is such a tender one.
You photograph lifestyle – which is often focused on the connections and interactions of people + ‘caught moments’. What was it like to ‘capture moments’ on this shoot?
I really wanted to capture the intimacy of this family – they are a real family – not hired models. They are a really great family – tight knit, kind and beautiful in every sense of the word. I wanted to make sure the pictures felt real and not staged – so a lot of my approach was to get out of their way and let them do what they would normally do in their daily life or on a family vacation. As a photographer, there is the temptation to compose + to control – but I find my best photographs happen when I practice patience and keep my eyes open. Instead of directing, I watch + wait and try to be part of their experience. We had dinners together every night, we went surfing as a group, we drove in the same car around town. I wanted to be present – but not intrusive. It’s really the best part of my job – connecting to people and finding the moments that reflect their real emotion and experience.