This week, we can’t tear our gaze from this dreamy aquatic collection!
We immersed ourselves in Jenna Martin’s stunning collection of surreal underwater photography, and dove beneath the surface to discover the inspiring photographer behind the shots.
Jenna Martin on Photography: Capturing Aquatic Dreams
Leigh-Andra: Hello Jenna, tell me all about you! How did you enter the photography sphere?
Jenna Martin: Hi there! I came into photography in a bit of a funny way. I was stuck in a dead-end field and was slowly getting more and more depressed. I came home and told my husband I needed to do something creative for a living or I was going to collapse in on myself like a dying star. He agreed.
I made a list of every creative job I could possibly think of, then narrowed it down based on 3 criteria:
- I wasn’t going back to school (at the time I already had about $40k in student debt).
- I wasn’t moving (my husband’s entire family lives here and we love it in Montana).
- I had to take anything off the list I couldn’t physically do (like becoming a professional ballerina at 27 years old with no dance experience).
So, I ended up with 4 options: musician, writer, photographer and cake decorator. On a whim, I chose to be a photographer. I didn’t even own a camera.
You made an incredible decision. What sparked the idea of making underwater shots?
I’ve always felt so at home in water, so taking my camera underwater seemed like a natural next step. I couldn’t afford underwater camera housing at the time though, so I built my own out of PVC pipe and plexiglass. As soon as I had something that worked and started shooting underwater I knew that was it. I was hooked.
Do you have a go-to source for inspiration? How do you keep that creative spark going?
I’ve always been a bit of an odd egg, and I think that weirdness definitely pays off in photography. If an idea comes to me I write it down immediately and keep adding to it as long as it’s active in my mind. But most often that ‘creative spark’ doesn’t just happen out of thin air, it takes effort. I have to work to be creative just like I have to work at everything else. That means a lot of dedicated practice.
While traveling for shoots, what are the essential gadgets you have to bring along?
I’m actually not a big gadget person at all – I just want my camera, housing, and a couple good lenses. I don’t use any dive gear or even wear a wetsuit when shooting underwater. Too much stuff makes me anxious, so the less I have to carry the better!
Any advice for others who would love to get into photography?
Don’t worry about the gear! So many people think great gear makes the photographer, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. If you want to start shooting, pick up a cheap camera at a garage sale and start shooting!
Looking back at your past work, is there anything you feel the current you would’ve done differently?
I wish I would’ve embraced my own weirdness a lot earlier. We all have little pieces of us that we’re afraid to show, but those are the pieces that make us interesting. In an artistic field, that’s your meal ticket to great work. Weird is good, don’t run from it.
If I were to take a peek into your camera bag right now, what sort of gear would I find?
I shoot with a Canon 5d Mark III and a wide angle lens, though I’ll use any lens I can fit in my housing. My housing is Ikelite, and I have a couple Ikelite strobes, though I prefer to shoot in natural light so I rarely use them.
Otherwise, you’d probably find a lot of homemade, franken-photo gear! Sometimes I need something to work right now so I just build it instead. I’ve been shooting a lot more video lately, and I didn’t have time to order a focusing system in between shoots, so I made one myself one night. It ended up working great so I still use it.
What influenced your collection “To Dream A Dream”?
I’ve had full-blown insomnia for my entire life. I’d go days without sleeping (usually 3-5). I’ve taken every kind of sleep prescription there is, I’ve done sleep studies, tried homeopathic remedies, nothing worked. Then a few years ago I got pregnant with my first child, and all of a sudden I started sleeping. It’s been a few years now and I’m still able to get a few hours each night. No idea how, and the only answer I’ve gotten from doctors is, “Yeah, well, pregnancy is weird.”
I don’t think people who’ve never had insomnia have any idea what it does to a person. It blurs your whole reality. My days were hazy and broken, my dreams, when I did sleep, were incredibly vivid. It became difficult to tell the difference between the two. My “To Dream A Dream” collection was a direct reflection of that. It was a warped reality mixed with this frustration of always being awake.
When you’re off camera duty, what can you be found doing?
When I’m off duty I disappear. No phone, no email, no social media, nothing. I just hang out with my family and pets and go for as many runs as possible. 🙂
Discover more of Jenna on her Instagram.
Images © Jenna Martin.