How I Shoot is a new series where we ask Instagrammers to tell us about their photo-taking process.

Today, we’re excited to introduce you to Martin (@safesolvent). We first noticed Martin’s photos when he tweeted a link to one of his Instagram self-portraits along with a video he created to accompany the photo. Martin’s videos document what happens behind-the-scenes as he shoots photos around his home city of Montréal. We were intrigued by how video and photography intersect for Martin and asked him to share a little about his process and the challenges of shooting distant self-portraits on the iPhone.

Hey Martin, good to meet you! Tell us a little about yourself…  

I’m a freelance photographer/videographer living in Montréal, Québec, and I’m always looking to use my job as a means to travel around and explore. I’m constantly looking for new locations to shoot for various projects and, believe it or not, the iPhone has become my tool of choice for this.

How has the iPhone influenced your photography?

My first digital camera was a Creative Labs WebCam Go, with 8MB of memory and no display. It was essentially a webcam you could detach from the computer and shoot photos with. Instagram reminds me of that camera in the sense that it’s less about the hardware and more about pushing the limits and challenging the notion of “just a phone camera.”

We notice a lot of self-portraits on your feed. How did you develop an interest in self-portraiture?

Originally, I started shooting self-portraits because I couldn’t find people to pose when I’d want to shoot. I started framing and composing my shots, hitting the 15-second timer and running in to pose. I always saw myself as more of a “stand-in” for showing clients potential ideas but it turned into more of a thematic concept over time. I also find that I’m often seeing beautiful photographs of landscapes but they are so indistinguishable from the next. My way of making many of my shots unique is by being in them.

It’s just you and an iPhone. What’s the trick to getting so far away from the camera when you’re shooting on your own?

I’m fascinated with the idea of being as far away in the shot as I can. This takes a combination of using Camera+’s 30-second timer delay, composing the shot and then running at top speed to reach my mark.

Do you use any other apps or tools?

A tool that I have to say changed the way I shoot is my GorillaPod for iPhone, which lets me attach my phone to trees, ledges and just about anything I can imagine.

Your videos are awesome. When did you start filming your photo-taking process?

I began to document the process when people started to wonder how I actually got so far away from the camera for my self-portraits. I’m also a very big fan of documentary film and decided to document myself with video because sometimes the photo itself doesn’t put into context the environment and moment that I’m experiencing while shooting.

What keeps you shooting and sharing your photos on Instagram?

The community is a huge part of it. I wasn’t too interested in filtering my photos, but it only took about 5 posts before I realized Instagram wasn’t just about the filters but the community. I instantly started finding interesting people all over the world to share photos with.


Videos: Instagram and Never This Serious - Skyline from *safe solvent™ on Vimeo.