Martine Lanser

Interview with Martine Lanser

In May we had the pleasure of interviewing Adelaide based street photographer Martine Lanser.  Martine recently gained first place in the Aussie Street competition (May 2018), which was part of the Head On festival in Sydney.  She has also exhibited at the Miami Street Photography Festival, Head On Festival and her work will be in the Shot In the Heart of Melbourne (SITHOM) exhibition in June/July 2018. Enjoy learning a little more about Martine and her approach to street photography!

Please tell us a bit about yourself - where you currently live and what is your background in photography?

My mum was born in Australia, I was born and raised in The Netherlands, my partner is Australian and we are currently living in Adelaide, South Australia. We moved to Melbourne five years ago and have been living in Adelaide for the last two years. We have had two kids in the mean time and are moving back to The Netherlands soon. Before we came to Australia I have lived in Hong Kong, Mexico and Japan and traveled a bit. 

I started (street) photography in Melbourne as my partner travelled for work and therefore I was home by myself a lot and liked exploring the city, photographing gave me a purpose to go out. Before that I would take photos when traveling and snaps of family and friends but nothing serious. I feel like I don’t do anything different when going out to shoot than I would do normally; I just take a camera with me to capture what it is I see. It took me a little while to ‘master’ my instrument to use it in the way I could show what I wanted to show so the first period of time I took photos to learn the trade more than anything. I took some photography courses when I moved to Adelaide, which made me more purposeful in what I do when I go out and taught me more about masters of photography also in other genres.

When and how did you get involved in Street Photography and what draws you to it?

I love to travel and lived and worked in different countries and continents. I first came in contact with street photography preparing for my trips. I was always curious what a place was like and didn’t want to see the ‘standard’ travel photos but I was interested in what daily life in the different places looked like. I started googling street photography to see the everyday life and found the world of street photography coincidently. 

My friend once told me in primary school that I didn’t like the standard pretty things but I always liked things that are quirky or different, less artificial, and I think that’s what I found in street photography even though I wasn’t specifically looking for it in the first place. I like the beauty that goes beyond for example travel photography, the complexity that comes with creating or appreciating the images, the fact it shows details and observations of our everyday life with layers or fleeting moments that are only there in that moment to be captured and can’t be simply produced again in the same way even if you wanted to. 

I am curious, interested in people in their environment and like to dive into things, find out what is under the surface. For me street photography is a challenge, like a treasure hunt, you know there are great photos out there for you to capture and the best photo you will take is always the one you haven’t found yet.

What do you think are the most challenging aspects of street photography?

I lead a busy life with two young kids and a challenging job. It is hard to find time for street photography and I think the more time you spend on the streets the better you get. Besides finding time it is also a challenge getting into the ‘zone’ to be able to concentrate and be creative with limited time on hand. What works for me is to always have a camera on hand and I am always looking around as if I were finding shots, so when an opportunity presents itself I am ready for it. Finally, my geographical range has been very limited due to the previous, but I found shooting everyday roughly at the same location has very much improved my photography. 

Do you think it is an advantage or disadvantage being a women street photographer?

For me being a women street photographer is an advantage, but that might be partly because I am a very positive thinker and always try to make the best out of any situation! I think the reaction to women is probably less suspicious when going out and taking photos especially in the situations where I am often in e.g. at the beach or amongst kids. At the same time I think gender is only one of the traits that influence how people respond to you. I do think the online world of street photography is sometimes a bit of a boy’s world.

Do you think it’s an advantage or disadvantage to be an Australian Street Photographer? 

Being an Australian street photographer is a huge advantage to me. First of all I love the Australian light. I can’t imagine a better place in the world to be a street photographer and I feel incredibly lucky to have grown as a street photographer here in Australia. Secondly I love the positive and warm culture in Australia that expresses itself amongst other things through the supportive network of the Unexposed Collective. I would like to mention the great work Julia an Rebecca are doing as it has really encouraged me. The disadvantage is the size of the country and the remoteness, for example I would have loved to meet everyone at the recent Aussie Street exhibition opening and to see my photos in some of the exhibitions I was in but so far have not been able to.

Where is your favourite place to shoot and what do you like about it? (if you have one)

My favourite place to shoot is Henley Beach (South Australia) where I live. Almost every time I go out I see something new. The light is almost always great and there are often people out and about. I love the beach and my walks at the end of a long day. 

Who are your favourite street photographers and tell us about why you like them? Is there a particular photographer that has influenced your work?

This question I find really hard to answer as I draw inspiration from so many different photographers and other artists. I think amongst my favourite photographers are some of the Magnum photographers, especially Alex Webb I really like. I love the work of Trent Parke and Jesse Marlow but I am also inspired by artist like Jeffrey Smart, Edward Hopper, Gregory Crewdson, or the work of surrealists like Magritte. Bieke Depoorter is an inspiration, I like how she fills her frames and I recently discovered the work of Stefanie Moshammer, her book is on my list.

If you could go out shooting for a day with any street photographer (that is alive today), who would it be and why?

This would probably Trent Parke, although I am not sure if he still spends much time on the streets (I think we actually only live a suburb apart!). I would like to see what he looks for, what approaches and techniques he is passionate about and what inspires him in the moment and catches his eye. His passion seems very infectious and I think he is one of the photographers really pushed the art form and the limits of photography to another level. I also like his recent moving image work. 

Are you working on a particular project at the moment?

During my time practicing street photography I found that for me it works better to stay in the moment than to focus on a project. The more I am ‘in my head’ and thinking about what I want to do the more I limit my creativity. What I find is that now I am moving overseas I am starting to reflect on my work of the last years and trying to see if I can find a set of photos as a summary which I would like to turn into a project. My working title is ‘No Worries’ and I focus on the carelessness and mundane of the everyday life, which is one of the things I found in Australian society are people quite attached to. When I came to Australia the financial crisis was keeping Europe and the US in a tight grip, but in Australia people went about their daily lives not worried about anything. I hope I can come up with a body of work but I find the editing process hard by myself. 

What do you consider your greatest photography accomplishment?

My greatest accomplishment I think is that I still feel passionate and excited about photography every day. I have had some work exhibited during the Miami Street Photography festival, the Head On festival and the recent Aussie street competition. However, I prefer to look forwards – and not backwards – and am excited about the journey ahead!

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