We had the good fortune of connecting with David Martin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi David, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I was born and spent my formative and early teenage years in Spain, which had a huge impact on who I am today.
Yes, the Spain of many beaches surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean and Cantabrian seas. The Spain of Germanic tribes, Visigoth, Iberian and Celtic, Phoenician, Roman, Jewish and Moor influences. The Spain of Inquisition, El Cid, colonial empires, civil war, dictatorship, monarchies, bullfighting and flamenco. The Spain of Don Quijote de la Mancha, and innumerable artists like Cervantes, Garcia Lorca, Goya, Velazquez, Dalí, Picasso, Manuel Falla, Andres Segovia, and Paco de Lucía. The Spain of Hemingway’s inspiration for The Sun Also Rises, Death in the Afternoon, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and others. The Spain of Julio Iglesias, Antonio Banderas, Rafael Nadal, Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem, Almodóvar, Money Heist, and the highly decorated national fútbol (soccer) team, la Furia Roja. The Spain of siestas, fun, sun, song and dance, tradition and raves, holidays, family gatherings, red wines, oranges, olive oil, tapas, paella, gazpacho, fabada and many other culinary delights. Spain is a welcomed assault on the senses and a wonderfully crafted environment to enjoy family and friends.
I am nowhere near that interesting nor complex, but I do appreciate family, friends, the arts, sports, diversity, and food. I attended Jesuit school and although I know it had an impact on who I am today, I can’t quantify it for some reason (or maybe it would take several chapters of my life story to weed it out). Sports, specifically soccer and tennis were a big part of my upbringing and development and continue to be so as an adult.
Probably the biggest impact on who I am today was my family’s move to the US when I was fourteen. It was very difficult leaving behind family, friends, and who I had been. Although I spoke and understood some English, the cultural and language barrier was still shocking during the first few years. I defensively withdrew inward and became more observant, less active, and more reactive.
I eventually learned to love my new adopted country and begun to appreciate and accept my new self. Although I miss Spain and seeing my friends and family there, I am very happy and feel fortunate to live in San Diego with my lovely wife and kids.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I think the move from Spain to the US and the changes I went through helped prepare me for my photography career.
One of the things I miss the most about Spain is the large family gatherings and social events. That is why I enjoy event photography so much. It helped me fill that void during my early years here by seeing and capturing those moments through other people. Fortunately, I get to relive those large family gatherings nowadays with my wife’s loving family.
Also, the ability to observe and read people visually, from the time when my English was not yet there, has given my portrait work an insight and nuance that probably would be lacking otherwise.
I consider my photography style direct, unassuming and simplistic. I try to capture the essence of the moment or person while trying to strip away unwanted distractions. I guess that is a reflection of my personality.
I enjoy all aspects of photography and try to learn as many techniques as possible. I collect vintage cameras and like to shoot film occasionally to keep me honest and respect the process.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This is a tough one for me because I’m a homebody. My answer would depend on which friend we are talking about.
It would definitely include the usual tourist spots like Coronado and other beaches, Old Town, Julian, Balboa Park, the Embarcadero, the zoo, Wild Animal Park, Gaslamp Quarter , Seaport Village, Point Loma, etc. Food would have to be part of the equation, sushi, Italian, Spanish, local breweries, and Mexican food.
For local entertainment/live music/performances I would take them to the Belly Up, Off Broadway Live, House of Blues, Music Box, and hopefully grab a performance by the Journeymen (https://journeymenband.com/), an awesome Journey tribute band (surprise!) with my brother in law, Mark Murphy, doing a killer job as lead vocalist. Depending on their taste, I would love to take them to enjoy the San Diego Symphony to see my friend, decent soccer player, amazing violinist, and concertmaster, Jeff Thayer.
I feel very fortunate to live in “America’s Finest City”, year-round amazing weather, beautiful surroundings, and fun nightlife.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’m not one to put people on pedestals and worship them no matter how accomplished they are. I understand that we are all human and perfectly imperfect, so I tend to focus on the good aspects and appreciate that, specially with those close to me.
My family is always a great source of inspiration and support. My dad, who passed away a couple of years ago, was extremely supportive and had a sharp and curious mind, was the eternal optimist and had a dorky sense of humor. I inherited his optimism and goofy sense of humor. I guess 2 out of 4 ain’t bad. From my mom I got my devotion to family and eternal unconditional love. I admire my sister’s toughness and resilience. I am resilient too but nowhere near as tough as she is.
My wife Michelle is simply amazing. She supports me and kicks my behind when I need it, and more importantly, she leads by example. She is constantly filling her plate with new and challenging things and tackles each one of them head on and with passion. She is very accomplished and yet, never rests on her laurels. The kids (all of them north of 18 years old), Molly, Kelly and Jack are just beautiful human beings and each inspirational in their own way. I’m also very fortunate to my in-laws other members of my extended family and appreciate how welcoming and loving they all are.
When it comes to photography, I don’t really have a mentor but I’m constantly learning from others through their work.