07 Jul Exclusive Photo Feature: Montana Martz
Montana Martz was born in Montreal, Canada and grew up in a forested area in Toronto. Growing up near the suburbs and being able to grow up in nature was eye-opening. As a younger girl, Montana used to ride horses and compete for a few years. This is what helped her get into photography, as she would take photos of fast moving actions. Being around animals and nature while growing up also helped her to develop a big appreciation for nature. In fact, working for National Geographic is one of her goals!
In her school years, Montana loved art and knew what she liked in music. Watching YouTube videos of animal edits with EDM music is what interested her to find out what dubstep music is all about. Drawing was her first love, and she would write books as a kid with elaborate drawings and stories from her own imagination, especially since she enjoyed horror stories as a kid. She received her first camera from her dad at Christmas, and after that, she began to teach herself how to use a camera. After high school, she learned more about cameras and how to use them very well. Fast forward to just almost three years ago, she was asked to come to Los Angeles to work with OWSLA because Skrillex wanted to work with her. Now Montana has come so far! She’s surrounded by people she’s looked up to so much.
How did your childhood develop your love of nature and animals?
As a kid, I spent a lot of time outside in nature. I grew up in a forest, and my parents were animal lovers as well. My dad would always take me to his friend’s zoo to play with baby wolves and tigers, etc. And my mom got me into horseback riding at a young age. I spent the majority of my childhood surrounded by animals and nature and was infatuated (still am) by all of it.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
A dragon. And then when I realized that wasn’t possible, a movie director.
What does art mean to you?
When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer, and how did you go about pursuing this dream?
I loved photography since the first time I picked up a camera as a child, just as I have always loved any form of art. All I’ve ever known is that I want to make art, so with photography, videography, editing, design, etc., I pursued these dreams by constantly practicing and taking opportunities that appealed to me wherever I could find them.
Have you had any formal photography training, and if not, how did you get to where you are today?
I haven’t had any formal training. I just figured it out on my own through trial and error, reading stuff online, and learning from friends. I honestly can say that I did not do anything specific to get where I am today; everything sort of just happens. There’s no secret to success in art. It is simply about loving what you do and wanting it more than anything else.
What inspires you about animal photography?
I am simply fascinated with other species and how they interact with humans, their surroundings, and each other. So observing and capturing that is amazing.
What animal would you most like to capture that you haven’t already?
One of my dreams is to film and photograph wild horses. I’ve grown up with horses, and I still have one that I share with my mom in Canada. They are incredible creatures with personality traits similar to humans in many ways. There’s something very special about looking a horse in the eyes and being in their presence. I would love to experience and capture moments of them existing at their free will in the wild.
What about the dance scene made you fall in love with it?
I love the music! It can be both beautiful and fun/crazy, and I love the way the music affects people. It sounds rather cliche, but seeing the way everyone puts aside their differences and comes together to listen and dance to music is beyond special. Music is an escape, and live music events/festivals are places where everyone can escape together.
What is your favorite aspect of your job as a photographer? What is your least favorite aspect of your job?
My favorite aspect is being able to do one of the things I love, taking photos. My least favorite aspect is probably the way management (when shooting a live performance) affects the way I have to take photos. By that, I mean needing me to focus on photos that “show how big the crowd is” for promotional use and having extremely fast deadlines such as needing the photos to be delivered the night of the show. I don’t like that, as it leaves less room to be creative.
Having seen thousands upon thousands of photographs during your career, how can you still tell when you’re looking at a truly special photograph?
If it makes me feel something.
You could live (almost) anywhere on earth, but what keeps you in LA?
I actually live in Toronto but spend half of my time in LA. The reason I spend so much time in LA and basically live there as well is because of all the opportunities for photo/video shoots that constantly pop up. Also, a majority of my creative friends live there, and I like to brainstorm and collaborate with them.
What do you think was your biggest struggle to get to where you are today? How did you overcome this?
My biggest struggle and one that I am still working on is myself. I am the only person who truly stops myself from getting what I want. I do admit that I have struggled with a lot relating to physical and mental health, and it made it difficult to get to where I am now and still makes it difficult at times to continue to move up. It has been somewhat exhausting to work on helping myself when I am so busy with my job. I have definitely fallen into really dark places due to forgetting to take care of myself because of the stress of all the projects I am constantly working on.
Day by day, though, I learn more and more, and that is ultimately how I am slowly overcoming or at least doing better with it all; learning about myself, how to solve problems, and being determined to not let anything completely tear me down.
You have worked with top labels such as OWSLA and artists such as Ghastly and Skrillex. What are the three best networking tips you can share to be able to work with top record labels and artists in the industry?
I honestly am not great at networking and never paid any attention to doing so. So, unfortunately, I have no tips to share about that. I ended up working with the artists and labels that I have worked for either because they saw my work online, through a friend, or because I happened to run into them somewhere and made friends with them (which I am not very good at for the most part). So, I guess my best advice is to focus on your art, post it online, and be yourself because that is what worked for me.
What are you most proud of?
The fact that me and many of my friends have worked our way up to being able to do what we love for a living at such a young age.
How do you define success in what you do?
Being able to create the art that you want to create and having that freedom and being in a mental state where you feel passionate, creative, and truly yourself.
What advice would you give to young photographers who are just starting out and considering pursuing a career in photography?
Work hard, be passionate (if you aren’t, then this isn’t the job for you), and try new things; the moment you become comfortable, you stop growing as an artist. Oh, and relating to music photography, don’t be annoying in the greenrooms.
Do you have any specific goals for the future on what you want to do from here on out?
Yes, many. One of them is to create an epic horror film.
What exciting projects or plans are on the horizon for you?
You’ll see! I like to keep my future projects lowkey until they happen/are finished.
What inspires you daily?
Absolutely everything. There is an inspiration to be drawn everywhere. Simply being alive as myself in this world is the most equally confusing and inspiring thing I can think of.