Interview with California photographer Marlies Hartmann
It is always a thrill for us to show off the work of our members and to give you a glimpse into their artistic lives. Today we’re sharing our interview of Marlies Hartmann and letting you in on how she became one of the few photographers we recommend in California.
Q: Hi Marlies, can you tell us a little about how you started your career in wedding photography?
A: I never in a million years imagined becoming a photographer, let alone a wedding photographer, but now it all makes sense.
I grew up in the arts as a competitive classical piano player from the time I was eight years old, followed by years of performing as a singer and actress in the theatre, which led to my BFA from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Having majored in Theatre and minored in Art History, I knew I wanted to live and work creatively, but it wasn't until 2015, when I started a food blog and somewhat accidentally discovered my first DSLR camera, that I began my journey into photography. By 2017, I transitioned into wedding photography full time and haven't looked back.
Q: You clearly have an artistic eye and many valuable skills; what made you choose wedding photography for your career path?
A: After a year of focusing solely on shooting food for my blog posts, I knew I wanted to branch out and find other ways to use my camera. So in January of 2016, I asked a friend if she and her boyfriend would do a shoot with me, and it was the first time I photographed two people at the same time. Immediately I knew that I enjoyed photographing people infinitely more than trying to capture banana ice cream before it melted on my back patio, and I decided to dive into shooting couples and weddings. By March of that year, I shot my first wedding and knew that it was exactly what I wanted for my life and my business.
Having grown up in the theatre, weddings check off every box of what I love about that world. From costumes and makeup, to lighting and composition, to the live "performance" of it all, I love to focus my energy entirely to the one purpose of capturing the best photos possible. Anything else that is happening in my life goes away, and I am immersed in the couple's world and their story. I often equate shooting a wedding to rock climbing or catching a wave while surfing. You literally have to be present and in the moment, and I feel that same high on a wedding day.
Q: Your work is gorgeous and bold with lots of interesting angles and lighting. Where do you get your inspiration?
A: I was fortunate to study abroad at the University of Florence, which is where my love of renaissance art was born. Caravaggio uses light, specifically known as chiaroscuro, in his work in a way that I can only dream of creating in my photography. I was able to visit my favorite painting of his, The Calling of St. Matthew, and I honestly think I sat and stared at that painting longer than any other piece of art I've ever witnessed.
My other favorite artist through the years is surrealist painter Rene Magritte and more specifically his painting Empire of Light. He bends reality in his paintings and pushed boundaries at a time in history when art was directed towards the affluent, and the stories and messages in his work (and use of day/night in Empire of Light) keeps him at the top of my list of favorite artists that have inspired me and my work.
If I can add one more artist, it would be not a painter but a director, actor, producer, writer, and composer. Charles Chaplin is a once-in-a-dozen-centuries kind of talent, and I still watch his films with my daughter on a regular basis. If you haven't ever seen The Kid or Gold Rush, do yourself a favor and watch one of the most talented creators of our time.
Other than photography, what brings you joy?
Travel. My daughter. White truffles. Light beams. Any of the art directors from The Handmaid's Tale. Disneyland. Musical theatre. Chekhov. The Dutch masters. Cobblestones. Reading. Shadows. Human connection. Ennio Morricone.
Check out Hartmann's extraordinary work on her website or in her WBWP portfolio. Only a true artist could get this good in their first five years, and we are thrilled to recommend her as one of the best photographers in California or anywhere.