Across the world, art is admired only from relative proximity; it takes a special kind of person to involve themselves in the creative field, through the good and the bad, enduring through both the love of being able to connect with others on a visceral level, to the sacrifices of money and sleep. 23-year old photographer Jackie David-Martinez, originally from Minnesota, said she has had a camera in her hands since the age of five. Throughout the course of her life, her camera has helped intertwined her love of music and meeting people, all the while helping to strengthen her relationship with God, whom she greatly accredits skills to. "I’ll never be afraid to tell anyone the reason I do photography is because God placed that in my heart," said David-Martinez.
What was one of the turning points for you in photography?
It’s really funny because I didn’t actually want to go to school for photography. I wanted to be a music producer. I took guitar lessons in high school, but to this day I’m still actually really bad at guitar. I don’t know why my grandma didn’t decide to pull me out of lessons, since I never practiced. But guitar lessons ended up being more like a therapy session with my guitar teacher, so I applied to photography school and I didn’t get in. I was like 34th on the waiting list, and it’s so crazy because at this time I believed in God throughout high school and I hadn’t become a Christian until almost the 8th grade. And now I see what God had working for me. He was showing me his plan. So three weeks before school started I had registered for my classes. Three weeks before school started I got a call saying that the entire waiting list had cleared out and if I wanted a spot in the class, I could have it. So I accepted it and I did two years of photography school. I went to a community college called Ridgewater College. It’s in a town called Willmar in Minnesota. It was a really good experience.
For you, where does the importance of photography and music come together?
I think I’ve always had a passion for music. I have always loved singing. I always tell people that using the gift that I’ve been given to be able to photograph someone else’s gift is a really beautiful thing for me. I just love art in general. I took all the art classes they had at my high school. I was involved in five choirs in high school my senior year, and I started going to music shows when I was 12 years old. I just think it’s a really beautiful thing to be able to capture what other people are doing. Even when I’m taking portraits, I just want you to know how beautiful you are, because I don’t think a lot of people see that in themselves. And when other people tell me that I make them look really cool or I make them feel good about their self, that’s when I would hope so; because they are a beautiful person. I don’t want it to sound cliché, but in reality, there’s something in me that just sees the good and sees the beauty in every person. Sometimes I think it’s a curse, but it’s actually an awesome gift because really, it gives me the ability to photograph anyone, and therefore gives me the ability to photograph any genre of music and see it as a cool art. I feel like I have a very hard time being at shows if I’m not photographing it, because I see the art behind everything in being there. I just want people to know I’m supporting them as an artist and that I see value in what they’re doing. One of my college professors didn’t really believe in me because I was so different from everyone else. I’m very B-side brained. I’m a procrastinator, I’m very unorganized; everyone in my class was very organized, had clean cut photography.
Having done photography my whole life, and just being interested in it was cool, but I pushed. For a long time, I felt like if I didn’t do photography, it was a disappointment to people around me because so many other people told me I needed to go to school for it. And after a while, I really just saw how photography was a tool I was given by God to use. I have awful social anxiety, and having a camera in hand is honestly the reason I have friends. So I see this as god placing me in certain communities because I have this gift and it helps me to partner with these people, and these people in return have become my friends. I can even say that these people are my family. I don’t feel like there’s anything wrong in the world when I have a camera in my hand. Just being able to photograph and show someone who they actually are, aside from how they view themselves, is really important.
Sometimes I go through phases of wondering if music photography is what I really wanna do, then I go to festivals like Audio Feed, which is in Illinois. I was a head photographer for a festival called Sunshine Festival in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and I get in that realm and know that this is exactly what I wanna do. I go out on tour and meet new people and make new connections. Because I went on tour, a girl I’ve become very close with has come to know Jesus through our friendship, which is such a beautiful thing. Photography is more than just photography. It’s about building a relationship with people. It shows that I want people to know they’re valued. But beyond me being a photographer, I love being friends with people. It’s really crazy. I have 2,100 friends on Facebook, and I can say that I know 2,000 of them, and at least 100 of them have added me because I’m a photographer. I’ve met almost every single person who is on my Facebook. I know I have other desires, in my life; for example, to manage or own a coffee shop would be so cool. But I also never wanna stop being a photographer. Being a photographer is like building community; it’s going beyond the business aspect of it, and remembering it’s an art and where the root of it started. And it’s remembering that because God gave me this skill, I was able to meet friends. If it wasn’t for the support that I have from my family, I would never have gone out and chased my dreams. And if wasn’t for through chasing my dreams, and meeting the friends that became my family, I wouldn’t have continued. So it’s more than photography to me. I’ll never be afraid to tell anyone the reason I do photography is because God placed that in my heart, to do it for him. Does that answer your question?
Yes, haha. How would you describe your photography to others? Or how would you compare them to others? You were saying how in your photography class, everyone else’s photography was stylistically clean cut in contrast with yours. What were your expectations going into photography school as opposed to taking a different method, like going straight into freelance?
My photography is different from others, and I’m not exactly sure why but that’s what I always hear. When it comes to music photography, I believe in capturing the moment between the artist and the crowd. I definitely love that, and if I’m given the right space and area to photograph it, you best believe I’m photographing the vocalist screaming into another kid’s face who’s grabbing for the mic. I love intensity like that, but I also really love to photograph the emotion behind the artist that was playing. You’ll notice in my photos, I focus a lot on individual artists. I’m pretty focused on their expression because I think that’s important to show others that this is them opening up to you about things that have gone on throughout their life. A lot of people will capture the jump, or how the crowd is interacting, and that’s important; no artist would be anywhere without someone supporting them, so fans are 100 percent one of the reasons a band can do anything, but I also think it’s super important to capture the emotion that’s going on within the artists.
My friend Luke is in a band called Vagabonds. Luke makes so many facial expressions, but Luke throws his guitar around, Luke jumps into the crowd; I’ve seen Luke cry more than once on stage. I think those are important moments to capture. I have a friend named Jeff, who goes by Keyoung, who does spoken word poetry. I took a picture of him for Audio Feed this summer, a music festival in Illinois, and when I posted it, he texted me and asked if I could send that to him. He said, “I know exactly what was going on in my head at that moment, and that means a lot to me that you would capture that.” So its things like that are important as an artist to capture the emotions of another artist. As for portrait photography, I always ask people to simply be in their realm. They always ask me what I want them to do, but I just want to capture who they are. Like the way you’re sitting right here, the way your knees are cocked in, your hands on your thighs; I would honestly ask if I could just take a portrait of you just like that, face forward, because when I see that you’re listening, that’s such an intense face and I really appreciate that. I just want them to be comfortable when I’m photographing them. I really think that’s what makes me different. I just want to show who each individual is as a person. When you look at my photos, I want you to feel what they’re feeling. I want you to be able to see the personality of who this person is when you look at my photos.
How would you describe the concept of art? What does it mean to you?
I think art is an expression of who you are. It’s crazy, I’ve never been asked that. If you go through my Instagram, you’ll notice darker sections and lighter sections of photos, and I typically find that when I’m in a slump or a weird funk, my photos tend to be darker and my captions tend to be more intense. When I’m feeling good about life and feeling better about myself, and I don’t feel like anything can conquer me, my photos become brighter. It’s like a pattern in my Instagram where things are dark and things are light. It’s almost like that could account for how I feel spiritually. And I guess that’s what I would consider it; because I believe that this is a gift from god, it could just be when I’m spiritually dry, things are not as easy. It’s harder to connect with God because I don’t allow myself to; because I distance myself, I turn my back. But when things are brighter, it’s because I see the hope in Jesus, and I would consider it an expression of who you are.
I always thought being an artist was gonna be easy, and I never thought it would take blood sweat and tears; but it does. It’s not easy. There are weeks where I just give up, and I need to take a break and not focus on photography, because the more stressed I am about it, the more I’m gonna hate my life. But in reality, I go two weeks without my camera and I ask myself, “What am I doing?” I just need to be creative again, you know? And I find that if I don’t have my camera with me, I have so many pictures on my iPhone. I get real creative with my iPhone. I went to a wedding this past weekend and I didn’t have my camera, just my phone, and I took these artistic photos with it just because I have to. Being in a creative field and being an artist in the world is not easy. There’s a 97 percent chance I will never get to retire, and I will have to work until the day I die. I will literally work until the lunch of my death, and die. I will have breakfast on my funeral and die. There’s a 90% chance I will never own my own house, and that I will never get to retired. I haven’t even started a retirement fund and I’m 23 years old, because I live pay check to pay check, because I am so passionate about finding a job that is willing to work with the fact that I take photos at shows; so allowing me to work a lot of days versus nights. That’s a lot of sacrifice for a business, so finding bosses that believe in you is hard.
JACKIE'S PERSONAL WEBSITE: http://jaclyndmphotograph.wixsite.com/jaclyndiane