Today in American Society there is a marginalized group called the "LGBTQIA" community. Within that community, there's also a group that has been struggling for acceptance for many years and they are the Transgender and Drag Queen community. For years this group has had to create their own culture in order to sustain life in America.
But today, we have a Photographer by the name of David Martinez. What makes David very special, and different, from most photographers is that, he has a specialization in shooting Drag Queens and Trans Models! His groundbreaking work has caught our attention on Instagram, given the vibrant colors and his use of design, to make his models look like Reincarnated 50's Hollywood Movie Stars! David's use of photography is helping American society normalize and accept the LGBTQIA community and below you will see why we are in love with his work!!!
How did you get started in Photography?
My sister is a big influence. She did photography in high school and would draw the pictures
she took. High school taught me a few tricks but I never took it serious until I moved to Dallas a year ago. I met a drag queen here named Tension and she said I'd have potential in it so I practiced with her and met so many interesting queens and transgender showgirls through her. I would say I've only been doing photography for 10 months this way. Before I only took pictures of myself or friends. Never professionally with studio lights or gone into detail with editing.
Do you have any formal training in photography?
I don't but I'm going to take some classes on lighting & retouching photos so I can get better at that. I learned on my own & just learned a few things from other photographers I've met.
I probably should get some formal training though.
We see that you specialize in capturing Transgender and Drag Queen Models why did you choose to take this route?
Mostly because I'm a huge fan of the art of drag. It's a transformation from pads, wigs, nails, costumes & stoned/beaded gowns. It's beautiful. Their body is a canvas & the way they become entirely new people is entertaining in itself. They're comedians, dancers or hosts & to capture moments of them is fun for me. Each girl has a story & a goal. Why take pictures of regular people or just special events when these queens make everyday an event. My work isn't possible without their art work.
The LGBT community needs more exposure for this kind of art form. It's popular on TV now but the local queens & transgender showgirls who don't make it on the show are ignored. Texas drag has so much to offer & I can hope I can make a difference and shine some light on the entertainers here.
We see that you like to utilize color in a lot of your shots, why do you stray away from traditional photography?
I saw some photographers use colored lighting and different backdrop colors.
I try to compete with the queens I shoot. If that makes sense. They bring so much to the table in terms of their costumes & make up & wigs. I try to have something more to offer than just a white light or black/gray backdrop color. If they take time to look this good I HAVE to be able to bring in a variety of colors also. I've always just been colorful with anything I do. Even my MySpace profile was colorful.
What makes shooting trans models and drag queens different than shooting a regular model?
Whether it's an elaborate costume or just a headshot I'm taking, they're already art but in
human form. Most photographers shoot in the same style for weddings and portrait styled shoots but there's no traditional way to shoot these queens so it's all fun and organic. It's not forced. I don't make them pose a certain way I just offer an opinion and they take that and run with it. Plus they're entertainers. They know how to pose and move in ways that are more flattering than any pose I can teach them. They get to look more like themselves instead of someone who did a pose someone else told them to do. It looks more natural & fun. Plus it makes playing with props more fun.
What work are you most proud of?
Plastique Tiara's picture in the bathtub. We used milk to make the water foggy & it helped reflect color. I'm so in love with that picture I got a huge print of it & have it at home hanging in my bedroom.
An artist in Houston even painted it & did a great job. It doesn't matter if you can tell what Plastique's gender is because she's just gorgeous. That human haired wig played so well too! Her makeup ties it al together. She looks natural. She is art.
I think I'm most proud of that picture also cause I wasn't really sure how I wanted to take it. I was really nervous and just playing with light. I didn't know it would be this good. I don't think I'll ever make anything better than that.
Do you do anything else other than photography?
I've played with videography also. I've done a couple videos & want to do more just haven't had the chance yet.
I work with this seamstress Ariel O'hara (Omazing Designs) to create some looks for queens. I bring her fabric and show her a design and she changes some things in her own way to make it better. We styled a couple queens here in Dallas.
I've stoned some gowns and costumes but I wouldn't say it's a job.
What is your ultimate goal and why?
I hope I can work with Ru girls consistently. I never thought I'd ever get to work with any of them. But Aja gave me a chance. Now I just want to work with more and hopefully keep this going. Maybe do a look book of the Ru girls I get to work with.
I'm currently making a look book now of the Texas queens I've shot so far & it'll be for sale in December. All profits are going to an LGBT youth center here in Dallas. I hope I can do this with Ru girls also.
Which photographers influence you?
Eric Richard Magnussen from NY for sure. He
started a series with Aja from Rupaul's Drag Race & I'm obsessed. He is a true artist. I would stare at his pictures in detail and try to imitate his editing. He's worked with all my favorite queens & more. He did one picture with London Adour & it really influenced me to use more colored backdrops.
Another is James Michael, also from NY. He influenced me to try colored lighting. He took one of Aja (which is how I found his work) and he used red and blue lights. I tried it on my models and it worked beautifully. He is the reason why I use colored lighting so much.
What's next for your photography?
I've also recently fallen in love with pageants.
Kelexis Davenport introduced me to so many queens in Houston for Miss Gay Texas USofA & I had the best time. I really want to shoot the winners in my own style but still give them what they want.
I hope to get a booth at DragCon. I saw a couple photographers have some in LA when I went so maybe that's something I'll do.
I've also been traveling a lot more recently so I'll be working with more than just Dallas girls now.