Dominic Martello is a self-trained pro photographer, based in San Francisco, California. As an exclusively Nikon digital user, Dominic decided to focus on black and white images that express a high level of naturalness, originality and creativity. The aesthetic of each image selected in this set captures a particular mood and emotion. Using natural light, the experienced photographer can add motion and create dynamic images that are remarkable and inspiring.
I never set out to become a photographer, photography seemed to find me. I had a stroke in early 2008 and after brain surgery photography seemed to accommodate my new perception of the world, one more interesting and richer than I perhaps ever knew. (The congenital defect that caused the stroke has been corrected.)
Finding my passion in my late fifties was quite the surprise as I had no formal training in any of the arts nor considered myself a candidate to study any.
"While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see."
I often don’t know what will strike me as worth photographing until I’m out doing it. I frequently pack my camera, tripod, a snack and GPS, get in the car, pull out of the driveway and THEN think, “Where will I go?” Some of my favorite places were happy treasures waiting to be discovered, such as a local church founded in 1776 or a secluded outlook over the San Francisco bay. And my friend Arthur, thanks to his technical and location savvy, has provided a wealth of opportunities for new points of view, geographical and imaginative. Of course, with camera in hand, the everyday places can appear foreign and strange. Wonderfully so.
The same freshness and surprise inform post production. I sometimes plan an image to be dark and mysterious only to wind up with a bright, high key picture. Each moment in post-prod seems dictated by the image itself which may be telling me ‘no’ until an ‘aha’ breaks out and we’re on to other possibilities. And of course there are those shots, which after several hours of work, scream, ‘give it a rest now,’ or perhaps, ‘just give up’. It’s important to know when to stop as well as persevere.
Black and white photography is my favorite to study and create. Many of the masters continue to thrill me, Adams, Stieglitz and especially Robert Frank whose photojournalist excursions into the heart of America strike me as the apotheosis of the genre. It’s something I rarely do, photograph people, nor do I foresee myself doing it much in the future, but that’s OK. My passion doesn’t take me there and there’s no fighting that. Contemporary photographers like Joel Tjintgelaar and Michael Kenna are always fascinating too. Joel’s generous sharing of technique has been very helpful. Again, as much as I’d like to emulate Joel’s work I don’t do what he does, but like Frank he inspires me.
My thematic interests vary but two seem to stand out. Firstly nature. I have always been a city person, seldom venturing out of the grey and concrete world into the green one but that changed markedly after surgery. Also, I tend to be drawn toward the very dark and the very light so my images can reflect that extreme.
A work of art must on some level encompass the mysterious, something out of the ordinary that awakens the senses or the mind. Even a simple short story told plainly needs that element apart from our normal way of knowing or seeing that jostles the experience to some other level. One of black and white photography’s added elements is one subtracted: color. Black and white is a language of its own. A work of art can make you consider something in a whole new way and that for me is the ultimate goal.
Lastly, I've learned to appreciate the multiple resources on the internet and sites like Photography Office have provided continual opportunities for inspiration and growth. A new way of seeing is just another URL away and many thanks to Leo and all here for their tireless efforts.
Mr. Dominic Martello, it was a great pleasure to collaborate, and to put everything together in order to create this splendid black and white photography essay. We are sure that your way of perceiving live, nature, objects or light went to a superior level, and the pictures below can justify my idea. Good luck in your future, good luck with the photos & prints, and when you will launch your next gallery/book send us an email. We would love to know more.