What is your favourite genre to shoot?
I am a light painter focusing more on macro light painting photography. Light painting is a technique where light is “painted” onto a photo using handheld light sources and captured using long exposure.
How do you go from conceptualising to action (photographing the subject) to result?
Getting out in nature is my first step. While on hiking trails or just in the neighbourhood, I collect samples like flowers or any interesting object I can find. At home, I will start forming an idea in my head about how to combine or place an object that will look interesting. Essentially, I start to get a feel for the subject.
Finding the correct focus of my subject in macro is important. The camera is placed on a tripod. I have a 60mm and a 180mm Canon macro lens. My cameras include a Canon EOS 70D and an EOS M100. The light source depends on the feeling I get about my subject. I use crystals or a light painting brush that I attach to a torch (Litra Torch 2.0/Ledlenser MT10), but any light-emitting devices such as LED strips can be used to create a light painting. My palette consists of LEE/Rosco colour lighting filters/gels. Starting with a black canvas, I paint light into the photo by moving around my subject. I then set the camera to Bulb mode or any long-exposure setting that gives me the freedom to create light trails.
What kind of post-production do you do on your photographs and what tools do you use to get to your result?
I edit my work in Adobe Lightroom. I use Affinity Photo also but I try to keep the photos true to the original by only doing basic editing.
Are there any photographers you adore and draw inspiration from?
I follow a lot of photographers and artists on Instagram and Facebook that are absolutely amazing. Light painters like Denis Smith and Vingt Cent are always creating beautiful work. My biggest inspiration was André Badenhorst. In 2018 when I started focusing on photography, I attended a workshop he gave. His obsession with light just hooked me and he is still a big inspiration!
Is there a specific message you want to convey with your photographs and how do you get that message across?
In my photos, I want to convey a connection with nature and my universe by capturing/creating a spirit of connecting energy. In creating new light pathways through the movement of the Fibre Optic light painting brush and other light painting tools I create that message.
What is your story?
Every object has a different story. The story is more a memory that is captured in the light. Like in one of my light paintings is a piece of a nest of the Southern Masked Weaver. This creation of the weaver is when he starts building his nest and anchors it to a branch of the tree. In the light painting, this memory of the weaver and his creation in the garden is captured.
For some inspiration for our upcoming photographers, how did you get from being an aspiring photographer to doing it as a full-time career?
Never stop learning! I have an Art degree from the University of Pretoria, but am constantly learning still by attending photography workshops at Outdoorphoto, Kameraz or anywhere brand ambassadors from Fujifilm, Sony, Godox, etc. give workshops. Udemy and Shaw Academy also have good courses I follow.
Engage with other photographers! Be part of photography groups. Fujifilm had an ISO Challenge throughout lockdown that kept photographers creative. Go on photography outings/adventures. I like to go to the Kempton Park Hospital or any outing that is interesting. Find something you love to photograph. Take a camera with you always. It is also very important to print your photos. Create a collection of your work in a photo book so that people can see your work printed.
How do you get paid to do what you want to do with your photography?
I started by being part of a group exhibition at a gallery. Currently, I am part of a group exhibition at the Tina Skukan Gallery in Pretoria until 17 of December. I approached another gallery that is also keen to exhibit my work that I am very excited about.
What gear can you not be without?
My camera obviously and my macro lenses. Also my light painting tools and torches.
What motivates you to continue taking pictures? Economically, politically, intellectually or emotionally motivated?
My work is more art photography so I would say emotionally first because it’s more an evolving creative process. Even with doubts, the process must flow. Motivation to keep going is important so I put on my hiking boots and just go out and I always find something that sparks my interest and creativity.
What paper (s) do you prefer to print with?
I personally like the more matt look so printing on the True Fibre Matt works for me.
What framing do you feel finished your work and why?
I absolutely love the DiaMount® look, it just compliments my light paintings beautifully. Also, the prints are sealed inside so no goggles or moisture can get in and destroy the print.
See more of Martini Coetzee on Instagram.