Martine Lanser is a Dutch/ Australian photographer who lived in Australia for 5 years before recently relocating back to The Netherlands. Martine was the First Place winner of the inaugural Aussie Street competition held in 2018.
YOU CAN FOLLOW MARTINE’S WORK HERE
INSTAGRAM - @martinelanser
Hi Martine, thanks very much for joining us! Could you start off by introducing yourself to the readers and telling us a bit about your work?
Hi there, thank you so much for having me! I am Martine Lanser a Dutch/Australian photographer. I was born and raised in The Netherlands to an Australian mum and Dutch dad, and I am together with my Australian partner and two Aussie kids. We spent the last five years in Australia and have recently moved back to The Netherlands. I am a street photographer who looks for inspiration in my everyday life, I have my camera with me most of the time and take photos wherever I go. I look for small moments that without paying attention you’d hardly notice. Without a camera and before I started street photography I’d do the same. By the way, Josh always says I walk around without paying attention where I am going but looking around everywhere noticing things nobody notices. So the only difference is now I have a camera.
What first interested you about photography? When was that?
I have always been intrigued by photography but never liked my photos, it’s fair to say we had a real love hate relationship. I didn't see on the prints what I saw in real life. I traveled a lot and would take photos home. People loved my photos but I didn't feel they told the story I wanted to tell. When I moved to Melbourne I decided to put a real effort in getting to know my camera and find a way of photographing that would tell my story. I was alone a lot and in between jobs, I walked miles and miles taking photos and I really got hooked to street photography.
Is there anything in your own background that initially sparked your interest in the type of photos you have continued to make?
I was always more interested in the quirky than the standard pretty and I have always been intrigued by people, their patterns, routines, habits, emotions and lives. Besides that I am a very visual person and I love to be outside. As a real observer, as I mentioned before, the camera is just a logical addition to my life.
Did you have any early influences or mentors that helped to shape your photographic ideas? If so, what was their most important inspiration or idea that you think they instilled in you?
My mum has always been an inspiration, she is an art lover and a teacher, she would always take us to museums and share background of different art streams etc. with us. When I started photography I would follow a lot of different photographers online and tried to learn what worked and what doesn't work. I did some courses in Adelaide with Mark Goddard, he really pushed me to keep going with what I was passionate about and he also told me straight forward what was not working. I have learned a lot in that time. Furthermore I took a workshop with Jesse Marlow which was very good. I have felt really supported with the Unexposed Collective and like the Women in Street Facebook group. I am always looking for feedback and would love to have a real mentor.
What was a (photographically) defining moment in your life and how do you still experience the ripple effect it had on you?
For me it was the first time that you realise you don't just take a photo but you make it, a sort of magical moment where different elements come together. The feeling as if the world holds its breath for a moment for you to capture the moment. It’s such hard work to keep looking for those moments and they are rare, but you know what you are working for.
“you don't just take a photo but you make it, a sort of magical moment where different elements come together. The feeling as if the world holds its breath for a moment…”
When you are walking around, with camera in hand, what thoughts generally are going through your mind?
If I have the luxury of time I am just observing, it is actually a great way to just watch and not think about daily things. Otherwise I think about the grocery list, what I need to do next or if my kids are safe if they are walking with me :)
Do you ever have a clear idea, project or series in mind before you begin photographing on a particular day?
No, not really. To be honest I tried, but it limits my creativity and it leads to too much cramped shooting. What I find in my work is that I work best without any thoughts or reference in mind and really shoot on intuition. Projects, in my opinion, form as I go. I would like to finish my project ‘No Worries” at some point, which I will need to do in a more focused way when traveling back to Australia.
Would you say some more about: "No Worries" ?
"No Worries" is my ongoing project on Australian life. I was fascinated with the Australian culture and way of living when I came to live in Australia. For me it was a strange mix of the familiar (my mom was born in Australia and my grandparents still have a lot of Australian habits), and the unfamiliar. What also really struck me was the physical and cultural remoteness of the rest of the world. While the world was in financial crisis, in Australia life seemed to be continuing like the rest of the world didn't exist. I think in my photos there is a theme of seemingly innocent moments with sometimes a dark undertone.
Could you tell us a bit more about your recent move from Australia and what you have in store for the rest of 2019?
My last year has been tough photography wise. I moved from Australia back to The Netherlands and due to the move, finding jobs, a place to live, having two small kids and a very demanding job I haven't spent as much time photographing as I wished. I am sure the coming year I will be much more focused on finding my passion again!
Are there things that you adore about photographing candidly that give you joy when you find yourself photographing in Australia? Any favourite spots in Aus or elsewhere and why?
Australia is the best place in the world for me, especially for photography. The light in Australia is amazing and so much of life is happening outside. My favourite place is Henley Beach in Adelaide. What I love is coming back every day and it is different every day, and the light is amazing :)
You have done well entering your photos into various street photography competitions. Can you share what you feel you have gained from these outcomes?
I haven't entered into too many photography competitions but what I felt a real need for for a long time is some sort of feedback to have an outside view on if I was going in the right direction. This might seem strange but I feel like I am just starting photography and getting any type of feedback gave me confidence to continue going. I guess this is partly because I am a very results oriented person :) I was in the final of the Miami Street Photography competition with a photo I consider the first photo I really ‘composed’ as a street photographer. Besides that, I had my work in the Head On Portrait prize as well as the Head On Mobile prize in two consecutive years and I was a semi finalist in the Moran Photographic competition. Finally, I was extremely honoured to be in the inaugural AUSSIE STREET Photography competition.
[Editor's Note: Aussie Street is delighted that not only did she have a few photos place in the finalists exhibition of our first street photography competition, but our esteemed judges also saw fit to reward Martine Lanser with the First Prize Award.]
How would you describe your photographic style, visual work or techniques to someone using words and not images?
I take photos of everyday life, just snapshots of small moments I see happening in front of me. My work is not really limited to a specific photographic genre or inspired by one specific photographer but I would say it is mainly street photography or unposed moments of everyday life. Although I love analogue photography I was ‘born and raised’ as a photographer in the digital age. I love working with light and will explore this more and more as I mature as a photographer I am sure.
Is there an aphorism or quote that is important to you?
“Life is what happens to you when making other plans”. It is a general life quote I strongly believe in but it is the same as in street photography, you can be looking for specific clues but the best moments you cannot anticipate, they unfold in front of you like a surprise.
How important has your family and friends' support been for helping you to keep focused on your photography?
The support of Josh has been essential. I have two small kids so we have are at a very busy time in our lives. Without his support and positive encouragement, his honest feedback, I could not have developed as much as I’ve done as a photographer over the last years.
What is your favourite photo of yours right now and why?
The one I haven't taken yet! I don't really linger over my own photos, I am very critical of my own work.