When it comes to commercial photography, nowadays you need a sense of confidence, and trust in your own distinct style to shoot analogue work. Clients inevitably want fast results, safety nets, and cheaper costs, which is why digital photography tends to be favored. But despite this, there are a number of photographers who go against the grain and prove that the magic of analogue photography can still be the perfect medium.
Brazilian-born, Tokyo-based, Gui Martinez is one of these individuals shooting film as a professional photographer. He mainly uses medium format to craft dreamy and mesmerizing stories with each photo. Whether he’s documenting his travels around the world or creating witty and conceptual editorials for fashion brands, we can see his personality and charm in each picture. Today we welcome Gui back to the magazine to talk about his work and his love for the 120 film.
Greetings Gui! It's been a few years since we had you in Lomography Magazine! Can you introduce yourself and tell us about how you started analogue photography?
Thanks for having me again. My name is Gui Martinez, and I am a photographer and creative director based in Tokyo. It's hard to say when I started. I remember using my allowance to buy my first camera when I was eight. It was a cheap plastic camera that I found in the supermarket. That's the first time I remember having an interest in photography.
After that, I remember I started playing with an old camera my mom had when I was 14, experimenting a lot, trying to learn the technical side of photography, etc. Since then, my passion for photography has been pretty steady. I bought a digital camera when I moved to Tokyo and used it for a couple of years until I realized I just wasn't interested in digital photography and started to invest all my attention into analogue.
You mostly shoot in medium format, especially using medium format reversal film. How did you end up making this your main format for photography?
I really love the colors you get with reversal film, and I think it really delivers the sentiment I'm looking for. I also shoot color-negative film, which has another beauty of its own and of course, allows for dark-room enlargement. Reversal film has a lower latitude compared to color negative film, which means it is less forgiving when it comes to exposure "errors". You need to be more precise with your exposure settings and light metering to get the best results. This creates a lower spectrum of colors and contrasts in the photographs, which in my opinion, gives me a tighter image that feels a lot more balanced.
What are your go-to cameras when shooting medium format?
Mamiya RZ67 and Mamiya 7.
How would you describe your style of photography?
That's a hard one. I get asked that a lot. Conceptual photography maybe? You tell me!
Nowadays many businesses and brands may not see the point in analogue photography, but your work shows why it's still viable. How do you convince clients to take the risk in using film photography, especially medium format for their advertisements?
I don't really have to convince anyone. The clients approaching me are aware of the beauty and value of what I do and how I shoot. I have no interest in, and rarely come across, clients who don't understand that. In a country like Japan, which places immense value on and has a deep demand for high-end craftsmanship, shooting on film is a pretty common practice.
Despite having different briefs per project your style and personality still shine through in every photo. How are you able to balance out what the clients want and showcasing yourself as a photographer?
Clients approach me because they want that look. I can't bring myself to photograph something I don't find aesthetically pleasing, so my personality inevitably emerges in any project I'm working on.
Among your client shoots, which one would you say was the most challenging and why?
It's hard to say. Some are challenging simply because of the amount of shots I need to get in low light. Once I had to shoot a summer campaign for Lumine (a department store in Tokyo) on a rainy winter's day and had to make it look like it was in the middle of summer. I had to use tons of lights while shooting in the rain. We even had to paint the grass green!
Have you ever tried using Lomography's 120 film offerings?
You also have dreamy travel photos. What is it like when you have complete control and vision when shooting during your vacations and travel?
Well, that's when I feel the most comfortable, of course, and most confident about what I will achieve.
You mostly shoot portraits. What are some of the techniques you use to get the best out of your models?
I try to create a comfortable atmosphere during my photo shoots, taking the time to acquaint myself with my subjects. This process helps me understand their nature and build affinity, which is really important to me when capturing a captivating portrait. It also helps to show them some of my previous works, as it explains a little bit of my general creative vision.
Why do you love medium format?
I love the overall quality of the images. Medium format can capture more details, colors, and dynamic range compared to smaller formats, as well as a shallower depth-of-field thanks to the larger film format.
Do you have any upcoming projects or plans for the near future?
I don't usually plan much ahead of time. I've been traveling a lot and have been shooting a few different personal projects while on the road. I definitely want to have a new exhibition by the end of this year or sometime next year. I'm also working on a collab exhibition with Lisa King, an amazing artist and friend from London/Bangkok who's doing some incredible work with flowers at the moment.
Any advice or words you want to share with the rest of the community?