Wanda Martin

Four young women standing posed in front of a landscape painting.

Canon Ambassador Wanda Martin specialises in shooting fashion photography in a fine art style. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II (now succeeded by the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III) with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 24mm, 1/125 sec, f/6.3 and ISO1250. © Wanda Martin/AFP

Inspired by art but professing no patience to paint, Canon Ambassador Wanda Martin has created a body of work through the medium of photography that nods stylistically to her creative heroes.

Enamoured with fine art from a young age, the Hungarian portrait photographer's creative endeavours have become revered for their combination of historical and modern styles. "I am strongly inspired by the aesthetic and visual norms of Pictorialism," Wanda explains. "I'm especially fascinated by Renaissance portraiture, the avant-garde attitude of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood of the late 1840s, and the visual characteristics of the likewise rebel-at-the-time 20th century subcultures – in particular the rock 'n' roll lifestyle. They were all 'outsiders', turning their backs on their reality and establishing a new system of values for their era."

Whether she's shooting fashion models or world-famous musicians, Wanda's style is as era-defining as it is timeless. "It started subconsciously, but as I – and my work – matured, it became a deliberate approach," Wanda says.

Wanda, born in 1991, grew up in the quiet Hungarian countryside. She admits she was too impatient to pursue a career as an artist, but became drawn to photography. She was intent on following in the footsteps of her photographer father, who initially tried to dissuade her from the creative path. Despite his misgivings, she moved to Budapest at the age of 18 to study for a degree in history and theory of cinema, and then a qualification in fine art and conceptual photography. A three-month scholarship at the London College of Fashion gave her a taste of life in the UK, and at the age of 23 Wanda made the decision to settle in London, where she completed a master's degree in fashion photography.

Initially Wanda directed her career towards fine art photography. However, after her flatmate – a fashion designer – asked her to shoot his collection, commissions from designers in London and Budapest began to pour in. The editorial shoots that followed opened the door to the world of music photography.

Location: London, UK
Specialist areas: Fashion, portraiture and music
Favourite kit:
Canon EOS-1D X Mark II (now succeeded by the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III)
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
A black-and-white self-portrait of a woman in a back garden taken with a fisheye lens.

Wanda used a fisheye lens to capture this self-portrait during the first Covid-19 lockdown in London. It is part of her wider project, Songs of Innocence and Experience, which reflects on post-modern love. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with a Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM lens at 8mm, 1/640 sec, f/10 and ISO800. © Wanda Martin/AFP

Today her images have graced the magazine pages of Vogue, Wonderland, Rollacoaster, FOXES, i-D and Numéro Russia. She has worked with an impressive array of musicians – Atlantic Records and Sony Music are among her clients – and on advertising campaigns for fashion brands Marc Jacobs and Dior.

Wanda's passion for art has also influenced her personal projects. In the standout series Painting Paraphrases, she celebrates her favourite painters with self-portraits showing her styled as some of art history's most iconic women, including Vermeer's Woman Reading a Letter, Allori's Judith with the Head of Holofernes, Da Vinci's Lady with an Ermine and Rossetti's Lady Lilith. Wanda also claims to draw inspiration from "unusual love stories and movies about weirdos", stating, "these are the main characters of my universe". Youth culture, subcultures, the notion of 'belonging versus opposing', gender and, more recently, love, are all topics Wanda has enjoyed exploring alongside her professional career.

Three young men wearing shirts with extravagant collars pose in front of a landscape painting.

This image of three male models was shot in London as part of a fashion editorial. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II (now succeeded by the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV) with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens (now succeeded by the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM) at 40mm, 1/400 sec, f/5 and ISO320. © Wanda Martin

Wanda's projects have formed part of collaborative exhibitions held in Budapest, London and Luxembourg, and she is currently preparing for her first solo show. She's also breaking new ground in her career as she explores the medium of film, having shot several music videos and short films, although she humbly admits to needing to develop her narrative skills before she'll commit to something more substantial. "I'm better with visuals and transferring an atmosphere and ethereal mood than telling a specific story," she admits.

"Sometimes when I have a photoshoot, I start doing a little bit of video as well. It's always good to have some footage for a few seconds' teaser, and also because sometimes there are scenarios when film is just a better fit. Having a DSLR camera such as the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II definitely helps, as I'm able to film anytime, anywhere, in outstanding quality."

In what way can a photographer's personality affect their photography?
"I like a friendly atmosphere on set, and because I'm good at communication I find it quite easy to make the models feel comfortable. We'll chat, get to know one another, listen to loud music – preferably rock 'n' roll – and even though it's hard work, we're still having fun, which always gives a better result in the end."

A key trait of your style comes from how you play with light – how has your technique evolved during your career?
"I used to prefer shooting on location only with natural light, but that came from insecurity. Over the years I've honed my studio lighting skills but I still prefer natural light. When natural light comes through the window, it gives a very artistic edge, much like Vermeer's work. I also like mixing natural light with little pointy lights, even in a very DIY way, with the help of a little torch or flash."

What's been the most valuable lesson you've learnt during your career?
"I am an extremely impatient person when it comes to my work, and at the same time I'm a perfectionist, which is an exhausting combination. I'm learning to appreciate where I am right now, instead of being constantly on the road, moving from one shoot to the next, without enjoying the journey itself. It does mean I've never been bored, though."

Is there a particular commission that stands out in your mind as being the most poignant or unique?
"In October 2018 I was photographing for FOXES Magazine at a festival in Joshua Tree, California, called Desert Daze. I was told I had five minutes to take backstage photos of the band Eagles of Death Metal. Five minutes became 20, and the lead singer Jesse Hughes suddenly asked, 'do you wanna see my gun?' I laughed and said, 'yeah… sure?'. So he went back to his room and came back carrying his gun. He started loading it in front of me and I kept taking photos of him. All the while he was telling me about the terror attack at their show at the Bataclan, Paris, in 2015, when almost 100 people were killed, and how he felt about it. To this day, I still think those portraits are some of my strongest."

One thing I know

Wanda Martin

"Being present on social media is essential: it's your online portfolio and the best platform for networking. I remember at university thinking an agent was the key to success but it's different today. Today, you have to be your own agent. Even if you have an agent, you still need to network by being active on social media. Just be enthusiastic about what you are doing and people will respond to that."

Facebook: Wanda Martin

Instagram: @wanda_martin


Wanda Martin's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Wanda Martin's kitbag containing Canon cameras, lenses and a Speedlite.


Canon EOS-1D X Mark III

The successor to the EOS-1D X Mark II that Wanda uses is the ultimate creative toolkit. "It was love at first sight," says Wanda of her Mark II. "It makes my life so much easier, since I like shooting on location, using natural light and you can go really high in ISO without getting the noisiness. Also it's great for filming."

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Wanda's backup camera is a predecessor to the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, a versatile and rugged camera capable of beautiful images in any situation. "I've had it for eight years now, and I've shot most of my photographs on it so far, and we've had lots of adventures together," says Wanda. "Today I usually have it in my kitbag as a backup camera, just in case."


Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

The go-to zoom lens of many professional photographers, the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM provides outstanding image quality and a fast f/2.8 aperture throughout its zoom range. "I like working fast and dynamism is a key word for me," says Wanda. "That's why I prefer using zoom lenses like this one, because it gives me more space to be spontaneous."

Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM

Adaptable to any situation and equipped with advanced image stabilisation, this lens is ideal for photographers who prefer to take just one lens on a shoot. "I love it because it's such a versatile zoom lens and it is very affordable, so it's perfect for photographers starting out," Wanda says.


Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT

The latest version of the Speedlite Wanda uses gives you control over your lighting, both on and off the camera. "I used to use it a lot, especially when shooting bands, or at night in low light," says Wanda. "I have it in my kitbag just in case – it's better to be prepared for any situation."

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