12:31 . I did not study photography as such; in fact I used to be a scuba instructor and when I started taking photos under water, I realised that I very much enjoyed photography. The techniques are basically the same, it’s just the fish you photograph that are different : they are a bit more colourful under water! (He laughs) It all started when I was travelling across Latin America. I met this girl in the Dominican republic, she was a scuba diving instructor and I fell in love with her. So I called home and said : Mum, Dad, I’m quitting my job and I am staying here to become a scuba instructor. Of course they were worried at first, but eventually they came to visit me and I even taught them diving, which was great. Since then, I had a son in Belgium and gave up scuba diving for a bit. But hey – now he is getting old, so I am teaching him; we are diving together. Slowly it is coming back, I am getting back into diving and soon I will even take my son to the sea, in order to see the fishies. It will be fantastic!
Ah – but yes so this is why I started photography. I like taking pictures, and I like the atmosphere at the Parliament. I have a relationship with members that is different from the other ones, since I don’t work for them but rather with them. I can tell them my stupid jokes, as long as I give them good pictures, they’re happy. Of course, working for a political group means that I chose photos which show its members in a good light – through the choice of lenses, angles, the shots that I select – so in this sense my work becomes political. But at the end of the day, no matter our political affiliation, we are all aiming for the same thing : for people to be more aware of the European Union. I do not consider that my work at the European People’s Party competes with the work of other political groups – instead we are competing with other ‘big commercial guys’ like H&M, L’Oreal, Nike. I mean, I guess many people would rather see an ad with a fashion model, than the photo of a political member. I know most of the time I do! (He laughs)
Martin is a photographer at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.