Art & Design
How many times have you heard this…“OK everyone—say CHEESE!” And with that we all manage to get the smile sorta right, or maybe not. Marianne Martin, owner of Real Life Portraits, has a better idea. One look at her website proves without a doubt that the people she photographs are definitely not saying “cheese.”
Martin did not start out wanting a career as a photographer. In fact, she relates that “I was an art major in college, and I wanted a racing bike for graduation, but my dad gave me a camera.” Sometimes parents know more about what we need than we do. She didn’t have a career in mind for a number of years. “I started [photographing] pets—and one day a friend asked me to shoot their wedding,” she states. From there her business just took off. She adds, “I didn’t know much about promoting myself, so it’s been word of mouth.”
The Time of Their Lives
Martin describes her style as photojournalism; a process that uses images to tell a story. She continues, “I encourage life. I want to see who somebody is. The best picture is one where not everyone is looking at the camera. I also think that at a wedding, the family photos should be fun. I want it to be who you are together as a family.” Browsing through her portfolios on the web confirms that philosophy. Throw away thoughts of so many traditionally-posed wedding photos— Martin’s clients are truly having the time of their lives.
Asked what makes her different from other photographers, she replies, “The thing that sets me apart is the live-on-site studio. It’s a unique thing. We bring beautiful lighting, different backdrops depending on the occasion, there’s plenty of room for groups. My goal is to get a beautiful portrait of all the guests. I feel like most people don’t like to have their picture taken, but even those that are shy will like it if you get a good portrait. Our signature work is a warm sepia. People wear all different colors. With sepia, the eye goes to the face.” She’s been doing this for corporate events as well and has traveled around the country, even to Hawaii. “Just last year we started doing [the on-site studio] for weddings that we may not be shooting ourselves.” A 4x6 photo is printed on the spot, so guests can take it home. She adds, “I’m there to bring out the energy and bring forth the emotion.”
Client comments, posted on her website, include: “I can honestly say the pictures from the on-site studio are my most cherished pictures,” or “Marianne’s pictures could bring life to a dead horse,” and “It’s not just taking pictures, she gets the BEST out of the subjects.” With such rave reviews, it’s clear that Martin strikes a chord with her photo subjects, offering them a glimpse into themselves they may never have seen. She remarks, “I react to the people—some people will laugh about one thing, others about another, some are really nervous. We have fun with people, I love people and it’s really fun for me.”
Film and Digital
With the digital age now well under way, everyone takes photos to post on Facebook or include in an email. Smart phones are every bit as popular as hand-held cameras, and for most casual photographers, digital is much easier than film. Such is not the case for professionals. According to Martin, “I hated the switch from film to digital. I switched my main camera in about 2004, but didn’t switch the on-site studio right away. We hung on until they quit making the film. Now, photography is about working the images after you’ve shot them.” She also comments on the fact that people want to see the finished product sooner, expecting those re-touched images. She adds, “We don’t work our images a lot. We’re still pretty true to reality. There’s a truthfulness in film. The quality is there now, but at the beginning black & white was not good in digital.”
Her work with animals has not stopped, as her portfolio of horse images shows. Martin also does those well-liked “before and after” shots, commenting, “My number one goal is to make people look fabulous.” Indeed she does. She has sage advice for anyone taking pictures, “When I teach photography, [I say] come with a phone. It’s not about the camera. It’s about SEEING, and taking the picture. It’s like saying Degas had a great brush. It doesn’t matter what you take it with. When you’re shooting, let people be themselves. A lot of the best pictures happen between the other pictures. Let people be…and photograph them. Capture the joy, the essence, the life.”
Oh yes…“and just say ice cream…can you NOT smile when you say ice cream??”
Real Life Portraits
Marianne Martin, Owner/photographer
2328 Bluff St.
Boulder, CO 80304
Bio: Joy Lawrance is a freelance writer living in Golden. She writes regularly for the New West Publishing family of magazines, and also writes on a variety of travel subjects.
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