Charlene Martin gave up her day job at HP in 2010 to begin what was meant to be a two-year sabbatical.
“My husband and I thought, ‘Do we really need two incomes?’” she said. “Ideally we thought the next thing might make some money, but for now we’re hanging out with each other.”
As her break nears three years, she has no plans to flee back to the corporate world.
Martin has filled her time learning the art of digital and alternative photography. Last year she had her first solo show last year at the Lodi Public library, displaying her series “Between the Vines,” a look at vineyard workers harvesting, pruning and working in the grapevines.
The Lockeford resident has since turned those shots into a self-published book titled “Harvest Morning,” and is currently featured at the Lodi Art Center and at Riaza Winery on Elm Street for September’s First Friday Art Hop.
Martin is also exploring cameraless photography. That technique brings together the power of the sun with chemicals in photographic paper and in botanical subjects to create shadowed images.
Martin shared her favorite subjects to shoot in an interview.
Describe your photography style.
The stuff I’ll be showing at Riaza is in the fine art documentary style, similar to my “Between the Vines” series that showed at the library last year.
Some are from last year’s harvest, but there’s also wintertime pruning, and just documenting the year. The photos lend themselves more to a story, even if it’s a story without words.
What are your favorite subjects to shoot?
Obviously vineyard work. I enjoy still life. I like to shoot the things you don’t normally see, don’t have access to or are driving by too fast to take note of what is happening.
I call myself a lazy photographer; I don’t go out way early in the sunrise or chase wildlife.
I like taking pictures of people because I don’t have to outrun them.
What brought you into digital photography?
I was always the family photographer. I would drag the camera around on vacation. This gave me a quiet reason to get out and look around. It’s a tool to get out into the community.
I was looking for something after I left my job at HP. I wanted to exercise the more creative side of myself. I’m not very artistic in drawing and painting, but the camera was less intimidating.
Where is the best location you’ve shot photos?
Yosemite. I hadn’t been there since I was a little kid, but I went for a class. You can go there and be with a lot of people or be there by yourself. Such an amazing place right in our backyard.
It kind of all came together for me there. That’s on my bucket list, to go up there and spend three or four weeks up there.
What’s been your most challenging subject?
One of the things I’m interested in is water, but there’s all kinds of challenging aspects. I see a lot of people do really exciting things with it. I love it, but it’s one of those things I don’t know if I’ll be a master of.
What do you want your photos to say to viewers?
I want them to be thinking that there’s so much more that goes into the things that we have. I enjoy wine; it’s a huge industry, and there are a lot of things that go into making it. A lot of people from all kinds of backgrounds are involved, and everyone has a part to play.