In­ter­view

Marta Ever­est speaks to DIG­I­TAL PHO­TOG­RA­PHER about the cre­ative process be­hind her stun­ning artis­tic por­traits of her chil­dren

Digital Photograper - - Contents -

Many pho­tog­ra­phers find in­spi­ra­tion in the work of pain­ters, of­ten due to a fas­ci­na­tion in their use of light and shadow, to cre­ate the il­lu­sion of depth in a 2D im­age. Marta Ever­est (500px.com/mar­taever­est) has be­come an ex­pert in us­ing min­i­mal re­sources to cre­ate rich, painterly por­trait im­ages.

WHAT GOT YOU STARTED IN PHO­TOG­RA­PHY? TELL US ABOUT YOUR EARLY CA­REER.

While liv­ing in Amer­ica, so far away from my na­tive coun­try Spain, I felt com­pelled to record the early be­gin­nings of my chil­dren’s lives, not only for me, but for the sake of my ex­tended fam­ily abroad as well. I wanted to cre­ate beau­ti­ful im­ages of them and cap­ture their ev­ery­day rou­tine, so I bought a 35mm film cam­era and took it ev­ery­where I went with my chil­dren. Then one day in 2002 I sent a photo of my daugh­ter to a photo con­test and sur­pris­ingly won the first prize! I was thrilled and hooked from that mo­ment on. I knew

I just wanted to keep do­ing what I thought I was good at and in 2007 I pur­chased my first dig­i­tal cam­era, a Nikon D80, and my first edit­ing soft­ware. It was one of the best in­vest­ments I’ve ever made.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE SUB­JECTS TO PHO­TO­GRAPH AND WHY?

From the be­gin­ning, chil­dren have al­ways been my favourite sub­jects to pho­to­graph. I sim­ply love to cap­ture that raw emo­tion that comes nat­u­rally to them and can­not be staged (es­pe­cially when shoot­ing out­doors). That’s the same prin­ci­ple I try to ap­ply when I shoot my in­door por­traits as well, or at least most of the time. My kids in par­tic­u­lar have been my corner­stone in the process of be­com­ing the pho­tog­ra­pher I am to­day – with their help I have been able to pol­ish my pho­to­graphic skills through­out the years, and that’s some­thing I will be eter­nally grate­ful for. Ev­ery­thing I am to­day I owe to them.

WHAT IN­FLU­ENCES YOUR PHO­TO­GRAPHIC STYLE?

I am a woman with an old soul and have al­ways been drawn to old-world style paint­ings, in par­tic­u­lar those of chil­dren. I find a lot of in­spi­ra­tion just by look­ing at them, but some­times I also find the kick I need to cre­ate my por­traits in the il­lus­tra­tion of a book or in a child­hood scene that I have in my head and I just want to re-cre­ate. Even the clas­si­cal mu­sic I lis­ten to al­most ev­ery day pro­vides me with the in­spi­ra­tion I need to elab­o­rate some of my im­ages. I want my pho­tographs to tell a story, much like Nor­man Rock­well or Mor­gan Weistling, who are with­out a doubt among the best artists of our time. I also want my pho­tographs to stand the test of time, so they can be en­joyed by gen­er­a­tions to come.

HOW DO YOU CRE­ATE THE LIGHT­ING EF­FECT COM­MON IN YOUR IM­AGES?

I don’t own a stu­dio, so in or­der to take my in­door pho­tos I need to im­pro­vise one in my own liv­ing room. The space I have is lim­ited be­cause my house is small, but I man­age to set it all up. I do not have a strobe or use flash for any of my pho­tos. All I have is a sin­gle oc­tag­o­nal soft­box with one 85-watt stu­dio light bulb, and a few back­drops that I have pur­chased through­out the years. As a gen­eral rule I shoot in a room with min­i­mum light and tend to place my soft­box to the side of my sub­ject, a lit­tle over the head. I some­times have to work my way around, hold­ing the soft­box with one hand while shoot­ing at the same time, so I can cre­ate a dif­fer­ent light­ing ef­fect. Then, dur­ing the edit­ing process in Pho­to­shop, I em­pha­sise this light­ing with the help of tools like the Gra­di­ent Tool and the Curve panel.

“My kids in par­tic­u­lar have been my corner­stone in the process of be­com­ing

the pho­tog­ra­pher I am to­day”

HOW MUCH PRO­CESS­ING DO YOU USU­ALLY AP­PLY?

Some pho­tos re­quire more edit­ing than oth­ers, depend­ing on where I po­si­tioned the light. I

al­ways edit in Light­room prior to Pho­to­shop and never use one with­out the other. The LR process is fun­da­men­tal when edit­ing this type of por­trait, mostly be­cause it al­lows me to se­lect those spe­cific ar­eas of the photo that I want to em­pha­sise and those that I want to iso­late, among other things I can’t do in

PS. About 65 per cent of the work takes place in LR, then the fin­ish­ing touches are done in PS. With the help of the Curve panel and other tools, I com­bine ac­tions and tex­tures to­gether to give the pho­tos a painted feel and that an­tique ap­pear­ance I aim for.

WHAT CAM­ERA GEAR DO YOU CUR­RENTLY USE AND WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PIECE OF EQUIP­MENT?

I have a Nikon D810 and a cou­ple of lenses I carry with me at all times – a Sigma 35mm Art and 105mm lens. I use the 35mm 85 per cent of the time, es­pe­cially when shoot­ing chil­dren out­doors, and the 105mm when I want softer por­traits. I also have a 50mm f1.4 and a 70-200mm lens. The 70-200 is out­stand­ing, but I find it bulky and heavy to carry, so I keep it at home and only take it with me when I need it. The 50mm is the only lens I use for my in­door por­traits and I re­ally couldn’t do with­out it – it is with­out a doubt my most pre­cious piece of equip­ment, cre­at­ing my favourite por­traits of all time.

WHAT AD­VICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER PHO­TOG­RA­PHERS LOOK­ING TO DE­VELOP THEIR OWN POR­TRAIT STYLE?

I would tell them that de­vel­op­ing your own style is not some­thing that hap­pens overnight and in some cases, like mine, it may take years to ma­te­ri­alise, so it is im­por­tant to per­se­vere. For years I took my cam­era ev­ery­where I went and made a huge ef­fort to shoot daily,

so that hope­fully one day I would em­brace my pho­tog­ra­phy style. I couldn’t be hap­pier I did. It is im­por­tant to ex­per­i­ment with the tools you have, de­vot­ing a lit­tle time to it ev­ery day, and don’t fol­low the book all the time. Al­ways fol­low your in­tu­ition and hope for a unique out­come.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE IM­AGE FROM THE SE­LEC­TION YOU SENT US AND WHY?

This is the hard­est ques­tion since ev­ery sin­gle one of these pho­tos has a spe­cial mean­ing to me. They are truly equal in beauty in my eyes. How­ever, I would prob­a­bly pick ‘The lit­tle writer’, only be­cause I think it is the first in­door por­trait of my daugh­ter that I have ever edited us­ing tex­tures, and that turned out to be the im­age that some­how cat­a­pulted me into the ‘spot­light’ mark­ing the be­gin­ning of my fine art por­trait pho­tog­ra­phy jour­ney. This im­age has es­tab­lished a ref­er­ence into how I wanted all my fu­ture por­traits to look.

“De­vel­op­ing your own style is not some­thing that hap­pens overnight and in some cases, like mine, it may

take years to ma­te­ri­alise”

WHAT MAKES A SUC­CESS­FUL POR­TRAIT IM­AGE?

A por­trait that can com­mu­ni­cate a mes­sage or tell a story is a great por­trait. How­ever, it will only be suc­cess­ful if it causes an emo­tional re­sponse, and if the mood that fol­lows leaves a trace that can last a long time in the mind of the viewer, re­gard­less of tech­ni­cal is­sues or bad com­po­si­tion. Some of the best and most mem­o­rable pho­tos in his­tory were far from per­fect and still, those are the ones that we re­mem­ber.

ALL IM­AGES © MARTA EVER­EST

THE BLESS­ING“I’m a very re­li­gious per­son, so I didn’t need many rea­sons to cre­ate a photo like this one of my son giv­ing thanks”

AboveTHE LIT­TLE WRITER “TO THIS DAY IT STILL AMAZES ME HOW EASY IT WAS TO CAP­TURE THIS IM­AGEOF MY DAUGH­TER WHILE SHE WAS COLOUR­ING AND DIDN’T EVEN KNOWSHE WAS BE­ING PHO­TOGRAPHED” Be­lowLET­TER FROM MOM “I WANTED TO CRE­ATE SOME­THING WITH A MELAN­CHOLIC FEEL TO ITWHEN I TOOK THIS PHOTO OF MY OLD­EST DAUGH­TER READ­INGA LET­TER” RightNEWS­PA­PER BOY “I WAS IN­SPIRED BY AN IM­AGE I HADIN MY HEAD OF MY DAD PIL­ING UP NEWS­PA­PERS AT HOME BACK WHENWE WERE KIDS AND WANTED TO RE-CRE­ATE THE SCENE SOME­HOW”

LeftCIN­DERELLA “A CLAS­SIC AND ONE OF MY ALL-TIME FAVOURITE PIC­TURES,” SAYS MARTA. THIS SHOT PER­FECTLY DEMON­STRATES THE PAINTERLY, FINE-ART STYLE PRESENT IN MANY OF MARTA’S IM­AGES AboveTHE LAMP KEEPER “I TOOK THIS IN MY HOUSE AT NIGHT.THE ONLY LIGHT WAS COM­ING FROM THE OIL LAMP. I WANTED TO GIVE A WARM AND COSY FEEL TO IT”

RightTHE DRAW­ING “I ASKED MY DAUGH­TER TO DRAW A PIC­TURE OF HER DOG, WHILE I TOOKTHIS PHOTO OF HER IN MY LIV­ING ROOM” AboveBRAIDS “HER EX­PRES­SION, SO CALM AND PEACE­FUL, IS WHAT I RE­ALLY LIKE THE MOST,” MARTA SAYS ON HER FAVOURITE AS­PECT OF THIS IM­AGE

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