Michael Martin: Neither costs nor effort

Expensive journey: In order to reach the Drygalski Mountains in Queen Maud country, you do not only need well-planned flight logistics. In that remote part of east Antarctica, a 200-litre barrel of kerosine also costs 14,000 US$ | Photo: Michael Martin
Michael Martin has been travelling through the deserts of this world for 35 years, and is filling halls with his presentations. In Globetrotter Magazine, the photographer and adventurer explains the pictures from his latest project – Planet Desert – which required the most expertise and best organisation – or simply luck.

My children sometimes get asked at school what their dad's job is. The question made me think about what I have been doing for 35 years. The answer is simple: travelling, taking photographs and giving presentations.

I pursue the same strategy that enabled me to start my career as a professional traveller back in the early 80s: I start thinking about a topic that will fascinate me for several years (whether an audience will be interested is secondary) and start travelling and and shooting photos. When I have collected photos and stories, I put multivision shows together and write books thereby recouping my expenses.


Bildergalerie: Michael Martin: Neither costs nor effort

My presentations on the Sahara, Ténéré, Africa’s deserts, and the deserts of the world clearly illustrate the central theme of deserts and that the scope has become ever more extensive. With Planet Desert, I have now reached a global level. The question of “Why” has a lot to do with the thrill of increasingly difficult challenges, but the main drive is my curiosity about the world. At an early age in geography classes, and later on when studying geography, I was interested in the wider picture and realised a global approach was needed. And trips taking me to the end of the world.

Over the years, I have devoted ever more time, effort and expense to my projects. Planet Desert is based on 700 travel days. As the destinations are in extreme regions spread all over the world, one single journey was out of the question. So between February 2010 and March 2015 I headed off 40 times. Sometimes I only had a few days at home in Munich between trips, sometimes they were separated by a few weeks during which I gave some presentations. At such a rate, I could not plan the trips in detail and often all I had was a flight ticket and valid paperwork. I had to organise the rest once I was there. I had a rough idea of the route, but basically it was determined by light conditions and motifs.

Giant screen, expensive beamers and a full house: When Michael Martin presents his multivision shows, the locations are usually sold out.  | Photo: Tobias Friedrich
Giant screen, expensive beamers and a full house: When Michael Martin presents his multivision shows, the locations are usually sold out. | Photo: Tobias Friedrich

When I finished, I was sitting on a mountain of 300,000 pictures and 18 terabyte of film material. I would never have been able to deal with all the publications in the six months before the start of the tour. The work on the book, on the multivision shows, the TV films, exhibitions, calendars and articles commenced when I was half way through the project and on my travels.

I give a great deal of consideration to the presentation of my photos. My goal was to present them bigger, better and brighter than ever before, so I invested a six-digit amount of money in screens, a super beamer and a perfect sound system. After the first winter tour, I must admit it was worth it. The multivision shows and the book are very successful. With each ticket sale I recoup a tiny fraction of the effort and costs. At some point during the second winter tour, I will break even and begin to earn an income. But all that is not so important. Most important is that I have seen the world to an extent only a few travellers have an opportunity to do – and can then report about my experiences.

Globetrotter Magazin Info

Michael Martin »Planet Wüste«»Planet Desert« by Michael Martin. Price: € 49.95. Globetrotter order number: 26.82.48.

Presentation dates and tickets: www.michael-martin.de/tickets


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14.08.2015ArtikelEnglish Articles

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