One thing you notice in an instant in most of the photos of Randy P Martin is the presence of a very tiny figure in the foreground and an overwhelming vastness around- be it a desert, ocean, valleys, beaches, highways or empty open grasslands. Travelling mostly with his friend Melanie, randy has travelled a great length of USA and many other countries and he’s shot awesome and impeccable images that capture the spirit of film photography. His photos are very clean and clear with less of obstructions and more of the breath-taking beauty the Nature offers. His images make me long for a really long trip out that’s been cancelled many a times, and leave this urban world and its worries behind. Photos of Randy create an alleviating effect on the viewer and reveal how satisfying film photography is. In our Q&A with Randy, he’s sharing some of the most important aspects of his photography:
I was born in Chicago, Illinois, USA and currently live in Portland, Oregon. Photography is my passion and I also like hiking, national parks, whiskey, bicycles, swimming holes, tattoos, new music, plants, motorcycles, bare feet, gardening, travels abroad, David Attenborough, bowling, cut off sleeved T-shirts, road trips, the ocean, cast iron pans, burritos, maps…
I’m a bit of a nomad. I’ve found it pretty difficult to stay in any one particular place longer than a year for the past decade or so. I like living in cities but for every year that passes I find myself more and more drawn to country, nature, and isolation. Almost all of my images are shot using 35mm film. I recently picked up a digital camera for the first time in as long as I can remember, and It’s definitely a nice change of pace.
I think that photography was a pretty natural progression from my teenage years when skateboarding was life. After a really bad ankle injury had me hung up for months, getting behind the lens, and capturing my friends through videography became my thing. Eventually it led to me finding the magic of my high school dark room when I was forced to choose an elective in order to graduate. I haven’t left the house without a camera at my side ever since.
My archives are the biggest motivation for me to continue picking up a camera. One of my favorite things is opening up an album from years ago and remembering the people, the adventures, good times with good humans. I have an inherent drive to document my life and the world around me. My memory is awful. Photography makes it better.
What is the key area of your photography and what do you shoot with mostly?
I am into travel photography. My cameras include a Yashica T5 and Fujifilm X-Pro 1 with Fujinon 27mm 2.8 Lens. I use expired 35mm Film.
Film is different. There’s something more real feeling about the images it creates. It requires a lot more attention and at least a base knowledge of how the camera in your hands functions. It forces you to be patient, and to think more every time you snap your shutters which in the end leaves each frame feeling that much more tailor-made.
Right now, living in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, I get the opportunity to shoot a lot. I don’t own a vehicle but one way or another I’ve managed to get out into the middle of a forest or to the ocean about once a week for an adventure. It’s felt really good to have a steady environment nearby to shoot in after living in big cement cities the past few years.
Post shooting, I scan all of my negatives in at home with my Pakon 135-Plus 35mm scanner. Beyond that, editing decisions really depend on the specific image. My mindset on photo manipulation is basically that post-production has always been around. Whether it’s using different developing techniques, filters on enlargers, hand brushing, airbrushing, or now digital manipulation, some sort of helping hand has always been sought after for a better end result. I don’t think any “pure” form of photography exists these days. Even with film, a scanner with it’s own specific software (post-production) is used in 100% of the photographs that exist online. I’ve personally embraced post-production, and see it as an extension of what I do.
All of my images are the result of me doing my best to capture some really good times with great friends. I don’t use models or ask anyone to pose for my photos. These are all real life moments of people putting in the effort to get out into some seriously solitary locations to find joy and adventure in nature. I’ve also got some really fantastic motivating friends who are up for crazy trips on a whim. We like to have fun, and I’ve usually got a camera nearby. Every once and a while everything comes together and the shutter clicks at just the right time.
I notice it becoming both repetitive and lacking originality. I think that my images are different from a lot of other people shooting photographs because they are real moments that are shot candidly. I feel like it comes through in the end, and gives each image a real personality, one that can’t be achieved with models.
I live in Portland, Oregon U.S.A. It’s a small city located in a ridiculously beautiful and diverse area of my country. Everything from snow capped volcanoes to teal green rivers, desert, giant old growth forests, waterfalls, caves, the deepest lake in America, and the Pacific Ocean are just a short drive away from home. I’ve done my fair share of globetrotting the past 10 years but this place is kind of blowing my mind.
I’m not a big planner. For now, I want to keep traveling as much as possible though - definitely with a camera at my side. I’ll continue to grow my body of work and just see what opportunities come my way.
My sources of inspiration are friends in big landscapes, isolation, and adventure. Right now my favorite photographers are Luke Byrne, Jackie Lee Young, Reuben Wu, Marlon Geller, Keith Davis Young, Nathaniel Wood. I like these book: 60 Hikes within 60 miles of Portland, National Parks Portfolio.
I don’t feel like I need to make an effort to stay motivated shooting photographs. It’s a natural instinct for me to document my life, and photography works out as a really good tool to accomplish that.
What would you say to a budding photographer?
Start with film. Shoot all the time. Make a conscious effort to develop your own style and not rely too heavily on what other people are doing.
Note: All images used with permission. Please do not copy or distribute without the approval of the photographer.