Interview with Martin Reisch aka *safe solvent™

Interview with Martin Reisch aka *safe solvent™



Martin Reisch is a freelance photographer from Montreal who travels around the world for his work. Currently working with big clients like Playboy and Playstation in the US as well as The Weather Network in Canada, he has carved himself a place in the photography and film industry and success knows him.

But that’s not all; Reisch, also known as *safe solvent™, is quite popular on Instagram too, the iPhone app for mobile photographers which currently counts over 27 million users. His collection of self-portraits is peculiar and interesting to say the least and there is much to be learned from this professional, whether it is for his freelance photography/film skills or for his creativity. I proceeded to interview Reisch and here’s the result:


*safe solvent™

Question 1: Hi Martin! I’m really happy to have the opportunity to interview you. To begin, why did you become a freelance photographer and how long have you been doing it?

I think I became a “freelancer” more in the sense that I never took a full time job to begin with. I started out in the print industry as a graphic designer approximately 8 or 9 years ago but I found most of my contracts were DVD and CD covers for films and bands so typically I would end up shooting photos for the assets to use in the designs since it was very common for the clients not to have any *good* quality images (another reason I think my freelance work as a photographer started out quite busy).

I slowly started doing more and more photography until one day I noticed that my graphic design passion was somewhat being surpassed by my passion for photography. I was at the time working part-time in a digital printshop so a lot of my clients at first came from people I had done print & design work for.

So, at the moment, I’m a freelance in more than one field but that seems very common these days! For me video and photography are very interlinked but still require a totally different mindset.


*safe solvent™

Question 2: What do you like the most and the less about working as a freelancer in your field?

This unfortunately has a quick answer: the part I like less is the stability and security, but the part I like most would have to be the freedom and ability to decide what I want to work on and under what circumstances as well as take on many different types of projects in small amounts of time. It keeps the mind and creativity fresh!


*safe solvent™

Question 3: You take a lot of pictures of yourself standing in the middle of gorgeous landscapes. It’s fun and quirky. Where did you get the idea to do that?

I had been doing self-portraits with my DSLRs for a long time before i started doing it with my iPhone. The series of self-portraits I believe started because I am a wanderer and I’m always travelling. When I was moving around I’d come across these scenic landscapes and just be so excited to shoot something, however I’ve never been a fan of empty landscapes. They are beautiful but I’ve seen thousands of them on iStock or Getty. They just seem so boring even though they are beautiful; however, I don’t have the luxury of traveling with a model at all times so I decided I’d use myself as a “temporary stand-in” to show what I’d like to do with a shot and then evenutally go back and shoot it with someone. Turns out I never got around to going back to a lot of those locations and it’s a good thing I shot it with myself because I’d probably never want to show empty landscapes as great as they are!

It quickly became a trademark. I started seeing the challenge in setting up a shot and finding where I could stand or be in the image in order to show the depth and grandeur of the location. It’s time consuming but i feel it’s worth it because it gives another dimension to an otherwise very un-original landscape shot.

It kinda also stuck int the back of my head that I was at the same time watermarking my images with myself (nobody would ever claim a selfportrait as their work) and also it was becoming a way to promote myself and protect my work without having to trademark it or slap a logo over it.

Now it has become more than that, essentially a theme and a larger view on things than before. Some people still see it as “just a picture of me” but thats fine.


*safe solvent™

Question 4: I know you have gained a certain level of popularity through the social network Instagram, a community for iPhone photographers. It’s thanks to this app that I encountered your work in the first place, actually. So let me ask you, what got you into iPhone photography in the first place, and why would a photographer choose an iPhone camera over a professional one?

iPhone photography came naturally since I have only ever owned my larger DSLR cameras. When I first picked up the iPhone in 2007, I was immidiately drawn to its camera because of its size/portability and the fact that it was always on me. It quickly dawned on me that if I applied everything I know about photography to this tiny yet limited camera, I could push its boundaries. I saw the iPhone as a challenge photographically speaking. If everyone has an iPhone, I wanted to see if I could set myself apart using it. I’m not sure that a photographer would choose an iPhone over a professional one per se; but I have never owned a point-and-shoot in between my iPhone and my DSLRs. iPhone IS my point-and-shoot. It has freed me from having to pull out a large lens and tripod when all I want to do is take a moment; fleeting and quick.


*safe solvent™

Question 5: Finally, if you had one advice to give your fellow freelancers in fields like photography, design, art and film, what would it be?

DO NOT EVER STOP. If you stop, someone younger, quicker, more ambitious and hungry will take your place. Never stop pushing yourself and never take things for granted.


If you liked this interview and you want to find out more about Martin Reisch aka *safe solvent™, I invite you to visit his website and take a look at his Instagram feed. If you have an iPhone, you should also follow him right away: @safesolvent. Finally, thanks a bunch Martin for this interview. We at Veodesign wish you the best for the future!

About the author

Tina Mailhot-Roberge is a graphic designer, illustrator and co-founder of Veodesign. She holds a BFA in Design from Concordia University, Montréal. She loves to help people and wirte about arts, design, web and technology. Find her on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.