by Alessandra Bettoni
Every time we go for an interview, our main goal is telling the story to give a better understanding of our Authors as they talk about their life, passions and of course their photography. Today we’re taking a ride to Latin America, moving to Mexico City to meet a pasionate “lookingup architecture Instagrammer”, Alberto Martin, whose work is a jump into the blue.
His name is Alberto Martin Orellana Cagide. He’s 55 and was born in Mexico City where he has lived all of his life, except for two years he lived in Detroit, Michigan, USA, while working for Chrysler Co. He works as the operating manager for a Mexican company that makes flower arrangements for home delivery. He has two brothers, two sisters, two nephews and one niece and together they are a very strong family. Their ties come from their passion for sports and music. He always says, his days do not start until he has drunk two cups of coffee and gets his early workout done, always listening to a good set of upbeat music.
Alberto how would you describe yourself in two words? And how would your friends/relatives describe you in two words?
“I´m passionate. Passionate about everything I do. I love my work, I love going to the gym, I love hanging out with my friends, having family dinners, watching Barcelona Futbol Club, I love the music I listen to. Life is too short not to be passionate about it. There are so many things going wrong these days, how could you not love the good things we have. Just waking up every day, as a matter of fact. I´m caring. I inherited that from my Dad and I cannot be prouder about it. I have never heard him say I need this. He´s always looking for ways to help others. I love him. I like to think I´m a respectful person. I may use bad language from time to time, but I try to respect every way of thinking/being. The only persons I cannot stand-respect are those who are aggressive, violent, non-respectful to others.
How would my friends describe me? Well, I think loyal, first of all. I would never betrayed a friend of mine. They´ve been with me in good and bad days. They´re my chosen family. I´m sure I´m their family too. Then, I would say “wokout-adicted” A friend of mine likes to tell a story about me leaving an evening at the table to go to the gym and join them later somewhere else. They always ask me for diets and workout routines that they never do. I´m proud that the same way I call them my chosen family, I am part of theirs. We´ve been together for more than 20 years now.”
Alberto has a simple but very busy life and in his spare time he loves taking picture with his smartphone. He is known and appreciated in the Web community as a passionate “archilover Instagrammer”, capturing images of architectural elements of his town, Mexico City. Switching to photography Alberto, how was the start?
“I dare say I´m a product of the cell phones era. I started taking shots like many people do today, when I got my first Blackberry. I have no camera, no background and can hardly decide when to add or take away bright, light or any other element. I made a few shots, got a few good comments and I would say that ignited a desire for more. When I was younger, I always liked to win in any sport, so when I started receiving those few nice comments, it was immediate. I wanted more and started doing it more frequently. Somehow I got into a group, ¨Pasión por la Fotografía¨, led by the excellent Mexican photographer, teacher and friend Javier Garcia-Moreno – you can appreciate his artwork visiting his website Javier GM Photography – and a very nice gentleman, excellent photographer as well as a good Canadian friend, Michael Strah suggested that I joined the Facebook groups ¨Keep-it-Minimal¨ and ¨Foto-only-minimal¨… I did and have not stopped since.”
Apparently, you get most of your inspiration from the modern buildings you see in your town, why architecture Alberto? Is there a specific reason for that?
“There are a few reasons for that. When I was younger I wanted to be an Architect, but as I’ve said, I´m no creative at all, so when I started taking drawing lessons, it was all a disaster, so I chose to go other ways. Later on I had the chance to move to Detroit. Detroit has always had a very bad reputation, but it has some very good points on its side. GM, Ford and Chrysler provide tons of Cultural opportunities of all different genres. The one that I took most advantage of is not related to this, but it definitely marked my taste for shooting ¨looking up Architecture¨. I spent too many weekends in Chicago, NYC and Toronto, which are only 60-90 minutes away from Detroit Metro Airport. Chicago, NYC, Toronto!!!… Beautiful cities, sports, Broadway, restaurants, good music, museums and true paradises for ¨lookingup-Architecture¨ lovers. Finally, Mexico has always had very good Architects. Luis Barragan, first Latin to win the Pritzker award, Teodoro Gonzalez de Leon among many and we have one of the most important-beautiful avenues in Latin America, Paseo de la Reforma. In addition to this, the wealthy-emerging suburb of Santa Fe, west of Mexico City provide most of the beautiful, modern, skyscrapers that I´ve been shooting.”
Stilistically, Alberto’s approach to photography is very well defined. His photography is mainly characterized by the blue color in all its shades. “Yes, blue. I definitely love blue. There are a couple of reason for that. First, I fell in love with Pablo Picasso´s Blue Paintings from the first second I saw them. I am not a big fan of Cubism, but I love most of Picasso´s other work, so when I got to see some of his Blue Paintings at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC he immediately became my number 2 Favorite artist of all time. I´ve never seen such a beautiful color of sadness as there is in those paintings. The other reason is, I love sun tanning. I love blue skies and in my personal opinion, sun tanning is not such a superficial activity, it gives you the chance to gather with your family, your kids, your friends, have a good time, listen to good music, read a book, enjoy nature!”
His pictures always feature very few elements and colors, showing a clean minimalistic approach to architectural photography. “By no meaning I´m an expert in anything, I know some basic rules of Minimalism and I like the ¨Less is more” approach. Only few, main elements: building, sky, a couple of clouds at the most and very few colors, blue, white, another one by mistake or simply monochrome grey.” Only few, essential elements which never include human figures in his compositions – “It´s obvious that when you shoot ¨lookingup-Architecture¨ you will not find people dancing in the sky, but it has become a rule of mine not to have people or trees in my pics. Very few, very few exceptions. They add elements which do not belong to the photograph, killing the Architectural-Geometrical beauty of the capture”.
Where does your passion come from? Is it something you have inherited from your family?
“I have always considered myself a sports guy. I am not creative at all, but I consider myself a good critic. I know what I like. I know what I dislike and I can tell why. There are no photographers in my past family, however, my Dad had an uncle who was a respected Mexican artist in the early XX Century and from my Mom´s side, I have uncles who were very good painters, non-of them professionally but they had the passion to do it as a hobby and they were very good. My mother herself was a very good Flamenco dancer and castanets player when she was younger. We are very proud of our Spanish heritage. So I would say, my passion was hiding inside, waiting for cell phones to be invented!”
As a product of the cell phones era, Alberto is photographing only with his iPhone5 smartphone, making a basic editing with an application named Snapseed or the usual Instagram tools. What about moving to a camera? – “My friend Javier kindly offered to sell me a new camera, a very good one, at a very fair price and 12 months to pay. I really appreciated his kindness, but… I did not feel comfortable. Photography is something that you fall in love with, but demands time and loyalty too. At this point, I´m happy where I´m at with her”.
In conclusion Alberto, we can actually perceive in your work and in your words, you put a lot of passion in what you do. What is the purpose of your work and how would your work evolve in the future?
“It can sound a bit stupid or egocentric but at the beginning I was only a collector of likes. As time passed, I convinced myself that I was enjoying the pictures I was taking. I started shooting pictures to satisfy myself without thinking about the likes. There were times, there are times when I really get emotional as I try to capture the beauty of a building, the beauty of a perfect blue sky or a storm, all making a beautiful match. Now that I have a few more followers, most of them in Europe, I want to show them the beautiful city I live in and pay tribute to the great artists-Architects that have designed these beautiful buildings. My country have plenty of artistic expressions and Architecture is one of them. I’m also planning to go to the inner, colonial cities in Mexico and perhaps Central America. My style would not be changed that much. Instead of tall, glass skyscrapers, I want to photograph colonial, white walls and blue skies. One big change could be the addition of dark skin women (whom I love, just like Gaugin), wearing their colorful dresses, standing by white walls. I have another project, or at least have thought about it. This would be in one of the rudest neighborhoods in Mexico City. This is however one in the long term.”
Thank you so much Alberto! keep in touch for your next projects! “Thanks a lot ArchiMinimal, it has been a real pleasure!”
Looking architecture by Alberto Martin