Art Beat: Real Pictures, Real Words

Jan 31, 2019

Portrait of Sam Ephland
Credit Kaitlin LaMoine Martin

Whether with pen or camera, Kaitlin LaMoine Martin has an eye for the world as it is. She’s not good at editing out wrinkles and shadows on faces, and she doesn’t want to be. The young artist finds beauty in the real, not plastic imitation.


With a love for two art forms — poetry and photography — Martin considers herself a poet first, a photographer second.

“I’ve been writing poetry since fifth grade,” Martin says. “But I’ve only been doing photography in a serious capacity since 2011.”

Although Martin primarily writes poetry, she recently finished a manuscript for a young adult novel.

“I don’t generally think of myself as a fiction writer, but I had this story come to me about five years ago,” Martin says. “Last March, I asked myself, 'Are you going to write it or not?' I decided to write it and I finished the first draft in December.”

Kaitlin LaMoine Martin
Credit Olivia Stier

Martin says she was not only raised in an “artsy” family but by a community of writers.

“My mom, Gail Martin, is a poet,” she says. “I also grew up three houses away from Susan Ramsey and right around the block from Danna Ephland. I took an intermediary poetry workshop with Di Seuss when I was in high school, and my high school English teacher was hugely instrumental in helping me fall in love with poetry.”

Whether speaking of poetry or photography or any art form, Martin says: “I think it’s important to remember that art is not an empty category. There’s been a lot of things I’ve caught in conversation about art being used in resistance to Fascism or art as the savior. That always gives me pause, because the aesthetic is also how Fascism can take root, and the stereotypes and caricatures we create about each other. I never want to put art on a pedestal. Images and poems can be used to uplift but also to degrade and dehumanize.”

Martin took up photography seriously while she was living on the Texas-Mexico border in 2010, working for the Texas poet laureate. Thinking about other sources of income, Martin started to give thought to a comment someone made about her photographs.

“She said my images were great and asked if I’d ever thought about photography as a business,” Martin recalls. And why not? Martin purchased a higher quality camera with money from a tax refund and became more intentional in taking photographs and marketing her skills to others.

Now back in Kalamazoo, Martin’s photography often shows up at local literary events, including the Kalamazoo Poetry Festival, capturing literary moments. Martin says she’s not into technology as a tool for creating images, at least not in the respect of “Photoshopping” images to erase flaws or "pretty up" a picture. Her eye is attracted to the real.

“I don’t want to sit at a computer to create an image that looks like it belongs in a magazine,” she says. Instead, Martin wants the image to accurately reflect life at a moment in time.

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