Arts and Culture Blog Posts

Artist Spotlight Series – M. Martinez

Michael Love By Michael Love
I can’t imagine a better artist to kick off our Artist Spotlight than Portland’s own, M.Martinez.  Ms. Martinez is a beautiful 35 year old second generation Mexican-American on her father’s side. She is a talented photographer, who has been shooting professionally for nearly 15 years. She has a great sense of style and  work ethic and vision that is truly unique. She has a genuine goodness about her that we can only hope this article does justice to.

Ms. Martinez is a professional artist who works in a variety of markets. She enjoys working with clients to get quality family portrait photos but she also enjoys photography with a more sensual flair.

She started her photography endeavor when she got bored working in front of the camera as a model. At the time, she was married to a photographer who particularly enjoyed working with inanimate objects. However, Ms. Martinez discovered an affinity for working with people. When she and her husband eventually split, her husband ended up with all of the photography equipment. Ms. Martinez found herself to be a photographer with no equipment, not even a camera.

She wanted to continue to pursue her career in photography, so she took a job as a photographer working for someone else.  She gained some great experience and knowledge working with film equipment on the cusp of the digital takeover. Eventually growing tired of the cookie cutter corporate photography work she was doing, and now in possession of her own digital equipment, she decided to branch out on her own. “My photography is now more art based but it is all my own business. I work for myself. I am a referral-based photographer, which is how I like it. It means the people I photograph come to me because they like my work, they have probably talked to someone else who has worked with me before, or because they are interested in the way that I approach things”  

Ms. Martinez has always been in or near our lifestyle community. She tells us, “I’m a hedonist, I do what feels good, so it always varies. I’m extremely comfortable in my sexuality and myself; I think that also reflects in my art and how I work with people and my ability to make them comfortable being them in their sessions.”

She formally explored her more sexual side years ago when she was working as a phone sex operator. Through the women she worked with and the type of people she was talking to, she found that she enjoyed their different mindsets, and was not only drawn to them but able to better understand kinks and interests she’s always had. So when she moved to Portland later in life, she naturally sought out a similar crowd.

Martinez identifies as queer. “Queer to me means that I see all people. That means I don’t date people based off of their sex. It’s about my chemistry with people.” Says M. “I also enjoy playing with how I identify between masculine and feminine. I like to play with gender roles and identity within myself from time to time, so I find that my identifying as queer makes it a lot easier for me to explain why or how I’m doing what I’m doing.” 

Ms Martinez enjoys a lifestyle that is rich in experiences. She runs with the Kink/BDSM crowd, but neither identifies as dom or sub but more of a switch, “One of my own struggles is that I’m quite sensual, and I don’t identify as a strong dom type, but I cannot hide my ‘pirate’ she comes out everywhere!” 

Her recent visit to Kinkfest and one of the classes she took there, has her reflecting on this though. “I absolutely love this class on the art of the female domination. It was really empowering to come away feeling that there’s so many different ways for that to happen. There were some great exercises that got my brain thinking about how I identify and kind of what I’m looking for in a partner for me to continue to explore that.”

Ms. Martinez’s influences comes from the world she sees around her. “All of my projects are different and are inspired from things that I see in the world or things that I feel or from my own experiences, or the experiences I see in others. A lot of my work focuses on diversity, that is a huge draw for me as an artist. I want to feature people that we don’t see in everyday media and that’s a big part of what most of my projects are about. Whether they involve something that’s a little more adult in nature or whether they are family friendly.”

“My ultimate goal is always to change perception and ideas of people and give different insight… as silly as this may sound when my niece was born I thought about what kind of world do I want her to live in and how do I want people to treat her and see her and how can I change that. That’s been a huge drive in my projects going forward. “

Ms. Martinez prides herself on a style that is very subtle, with a touch of class that resonates with a varied demographic.

Indeed, this shows in Ms. Martinez’s projects. Her work are all labors of love. “I don’t necessarily focus so much on the image itself, to be honest. I’m more focused on how it makes you feel. What is the experience that I want to have when I look at this? What is the experience that I want the model to remember when they look back on this? How are you going to feel or is it going to move you or make you think in the end and how can I achieve that?”

She talks about one of her current projects, her “Sexuality of the age of 50” project and how it works with the communication she seeks. “It’s a series that’s not necessarily about sex or or being sexy or showing any nudity in that aspect, but it does allow people to express themselves in ways that people don’t always see them. So my goal throughout the project is for people to be able to look at the series and find an image that moves them, that they identify with, that they can either see themselves in, or someone they know, or what they want to be, or who they can be.”

Perception is huge to Ms. Martinez. She talks about a past project titled “Littles in the Dungeon”  Some of her friends in the community who are also “Littles” were frustrated with the images that they often see in the media and on the internet of what “Littles” look like.  “There were consistently these images of the same body type, the same age, the same type of girl. We wanted to show that there was so much more than that, because none of my friends who identified that way fit any of those molds. So the idea behind the project was to break that stereotype, and to show how fun they are and how beautiful and how diverse and how “Littles” can be, instead of this one idea that just kept being perpetuated.”

One of the things we love most about Ms Martinez’s work ethic and business philosophy is her openness and honesty. We asked her how she balances her work with clients with the work she does in erotic photography and her work in the BDSM and kink communities. “That’s a really good question, and the answer is actually… I don’t.  It’s who you know and how you heard about me. Sometimes you heard about me through someone I captured in an erotic session and sometimes you heard about me because because I captured a friend’s son for senior portraits. My hope is that you just really loved how those turned out. Sometimes you’ll see me at an event doing community images. I was a league photographer for the Rose City Rollers for a while and I focused on their community outreach so a lot of people met me through there. I don’t really hide the things that I produce, they can all be found on my site in fact.”

So Ms. Martinez has come a long way in her years as a photographer through many trials, lots of adversity, and struggle to build herself a great photography business and career that is rewarding to her both financially but also creatively and emotionally.

Ms Martinez takes us through some of her most favorite images from her works over the years, but the some of the images are not suitable for this blog.  It is a very interesting walk through that you will not want to miss, you can check out her Artist Spotlight article in the May Issue of PDXScene Magazine. 

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