This is What Marty Sees...

what_marty_sees ~ Phototstream

A short Biography..
Wow, this seemed so straightforward when I first received the questionnaire but I'm sort of stumped on how to begin. So I'll just jump in and introduce myself.

My name is Marty and I'm the person behind the Flickr stream what_marty_sees.

I'm a Christian...a well loved wife...and the mother of five beautiful children. All three of those things have a huge impact on who I am as a photographer. I blog about my life and those three things at Sam's Family.

On my 30th birthday my husband and family surprised me with my first real camera. By real I mean something other than a point and shoot. It was the Canon Rebel and it wasn't long before my husband was telling people he was picking up extra jobs to support my film habit. I learned very quickly that I could take a roll of film and only get about three or four real keepers. The solution? Take lots and lots of pictures. His mother surprised me two years ago with the digital version of my Rebel...the XTi. I think I took over 1700 pictures the first month I had it! I use the kit lens that came with them both (the 35-80mm and 18-55 mm.) For an anniversary one year Rob bought me the 80-200 zoom and I do have a macro filter that I enjoy using for close up detail shots. I'd eventually love to upgrade my camera body but for the most part I really would just like some nicer glass. I have my eye on the 50 1.4 or 1.8. Also a wide angle lens...it would be nice to have a little more space to work with doing group pictures. And with five kids...I do a lot of group pictures :-)

Carried Away by what_marty_sees.

My husband is the pastor of a church in Milton, a town just outside of Pensacola, Florida. Most people know us because of our beaches...and it is one of my favorite places to photograph. It's also my happy place. No matter how stressed out I am I can go sit and listen to the gulf, smell the salt air and the waves just pull all the tension right out of me.

Why do you photograph?
Because I cannot not photograph.
In the almost 10 years since I got that first camera it has become a part of me...of who I am. Sometimes I use it to document and share the tangible world around me...sometimes to give voice to the intangible of what I see and feel. This can be a dangerous way to view the world though if you aren't careful. A couple of years ago I had to put my camera down for a few weeks. I was getting to caught up in trying to perfectly express what in reality is really imperfect. Life is imperfect and messy and you don't always have the best light or you miss a detail or whatever. But there is still beauty in this messy life and I needed to see it for what it is. I think the hiatus made me a better photographer.

Is there a particular photographer you admire?
Okay, it might be trite but I love Ansel Adams. He was one of the first famous photographers I was exposed to and he is still my favorite. He could work black and white like I only dream of doing. And for portrait work I really enjoy Annie Leivobitz.
But honestly, there is so much talent and skill found of Flickr. Those are the photographers I really admire. Normal people like me. It's one of the reasons I was so excited about the flickHer group and this flickHERist blog. I'm not kidding when I say that some of the stuff I see here just takes my breath away.

If you process your images at all, what software do you use and how much processing do you do?
I don't do a lot of processing to my images...mainly due to lack of knowledge and skill. I use Picasa or Picnik and I'm just learning how to add layers or textures well. Some of my first attempts make me shutter now. I am philosophically opposed to heavily processed and manipulated portraits. I saw some where all the life had been stripped away from a woman's portrait...everyone was raving about how beautiful it was but to me she looked like a lifeless doll. Maybe it's because I have four daughters but I want them to have a different idea of beauty than what most of our society says. I want them happy and confident in who they are...not in how perfect they look.

How did you learn your skills - are you self-taught?
I am self-taught in the sense that I just keep taking pictures and playing with the controls on my camera. I have a few books that I'm trying to read but I am a real hands on learner. I'd love to spend a day with some one that would just walk me through exposure, shutter speed and aperture. I also have a bunch of free how to sites bookmarked on the web.

What inspires your photos?
Oh, my! I guess the long and short of it is everything! It may just be the beauty of the ordinary, or how I feel when I see something. A lot of times it's just the desire to reflect something of the one true Creator. My faith affects the way I view the world and my photography hopefully points to that.

Whole Heart by what_

What is your favourite subject or theme to photograph?
This is hard. My kids obviously rank pretty high on the list. I photograph a lot of nature. Flowers are a cheap but great way to practice and hone your skills. But, I'd have to say people...I love photographing people. I joined a Flickr group for people starting out in wedding photography and quickly discovered that it is not my niche. Some people are just incredibly gifted for that kind of work but not me. I really love doing maternity and newborn pictures. It's such an amazing and happy time. That is where I'd eventually like to go professionally. But that's a bit down the road for now. I do it mostly for friends just to practice.

Do you self-portrait?
Only if I cannot get out of it :-) I'm horribly uncomfortable in front of the camera but I think it's good to do every so often. For someone who enjoys taking portraits of people it helps me know some of the emotions that are part of the process. I tend to come in tight and focus on a feature rather than the whole. Or, like the one in the beginning of the post, I try and get creative about hiding from the camera.

What is your biggest challenge?
Myself probably. And time. I'd like to learn more but time can be a real issue. So I work at what I can knowing that life comes in seasons. I don't want to miss enjoying my life now because I'm not paying attention and only thinking of the 'if only' moments. A second answer to this question...I had a friend give me her studio lights so this summer I hope to spend some time practicing and mastering them. I prefer natural light but I think it's could to understand how indoor lighting works.

What advice do you have for new photographers?
Take pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. Don't be afraid. Get comfortable with your camera no matter what kind it is. Value your work. Be open to constructive criticism...everything little thing you learn opens the door to a new world.

Wow. Thank you so much Marty. A wonderful choice of photos and words.
~ Andrea and Kari


  1. Lovley interview. I particularly like Marty's answer to the question "Why do you photograph?"

    "Because I cannot not photograph."

    Isn't that the truth.

    I'm off to see more of Marty's photostream.

  2. What a story ! I share with you some thoughts and I like Annie Leibovitz as well...

    And your pictures are wonderful !

  3. Nice interview! love the Be Me picture of your daughter!

  4. This is such a wonderful interview - I love your answers to the questions about photographing people to capture their character rather than a lifeless, yet beautiful charicature. So true.

    I also love what you say about why you photograph and how you needed to put the camera down for a few weeks while you came to terms with capturing the imperfections in our world. You obviously needed that "think-time" (don't we all occasionally?) because what you photograph now, says it all so eloquently.

    Great interview with very insightful answers and the supporting images are a delight!

  5. Awww...thanks y'all.
    Sorry I haven't been around much...out of town...but I'm back now and hope to spend some time swimming in the group pool to see what all has been added lately.

  6. LOVE your header, LOVE LOVE LOVE

    these pics are all so sweet


Sweet Critique!
What do you think?