Martina Wärenfeldt

A portrait of a woman in a red satin dress with a large tulle collar and with red leaves in her hair, taken on a Canon EOS R5 by Martina Wärenfeldt.

Inspired by illustrative Japanese paintings, this portrait by Canon Ambassador Martina Wärenfeldt is part of a personal project shot for a competition. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM lens at 81mm, 1/125 sec, f/7.1 and ISO 125. © Martina Wärenfeldt

Martina Wärenfeldt's fine art portraiture stems from her childhood dream of becoming an artist. "I wanted to do paintings and pictures, but I had no talent and couldn't get anything onto paper or canvas," she says. "Somehow the stars aligned and from necessity, I got to become an artist through the way I shoot. My childhood dream has sort of come true."

Born in Växjö, Sweden, Martina moved to California, USA, aged 18, unsure of the direction she wanted her career to take. "My mum found me a position as a nanny just north of Los Angeles, and said, 'Why don't you go and do it for a year?'" she explains. "I'm sure she regretted it when I was gone for eight!"

Martina's decision to enrol on the photography programme at California's Santa Monica College was led by her head rather than her heart. "I took a close look at myself and thought, 'What can I do?' What kind of talent and interests do I have that can provide me with a job?' I had been taking amateurish pictures with analogue cameras, but I loved it – I had 10 photo albums after my first year in the USA – so I thought maybe I could be a photographer. I figured I could always work for a newspaper or as a portrait photographer in a studio. It was a conscious decision from the point of view of needing to get paid, but when I started my first photography class, it was like coming home."

Location: Växjö, Sweden

Specialist area: Fine art portraits

Favourite kit: Canon EOS R5
Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM
A softly lit portrait of a bearded man in a dark jacket taken on a Canon EOS R5 by Canon Ambassador Martina Wärenfeldt.

A desire to make a masculine portrait yet with a soft, feminine feel was the inspiration for this photo. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM­ lens at 128mm, 1/160 sec, f/6.3 and ISO 100. © Martina Wärenfeldt

A softly lit portrait of a woman wearing elaborate jewellery and holding a piece of embroidered fabric so it partially obscures her face, taken on a Canon EOS R5 by Martina Wärenfeldt.

"This is a make-up artist I work with," explains Martina. "I saw her beautiful jewellery on one of her social media posts and asked her to come in for a portrait. I added the fabric to create some mystery." Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM lens at 32mm, 1/100 sec, f/9 and ISO 160. © Martina Wärenfeldt

While studying, Martina began shooting headshots for friends, mostly models and singers, renting equipment and working at the college as a lab assistant to gain access to its darkroom. After graduating, she moved back to her hometown in Sweden. She'd had a taste of the music industry in the USA, shooting stills for videos and PR images for upcoming artists. Even though her main focus has always been portraits, she has also worked with fashion, weddings and newborns.

Martina had never given up on realising her childhood dream, though, and in 2014 she began to evolve her fine art portraiture style, inspired by her love of styling and a desire to expand her business. At her studio in Sweden, she now shoots classic portraits and fine art images of everyday people, as well as business portraits for professionals. Her work is often inspired by the oil painting techniques used by the Old Masters. "I have always been drawn to art, mostly the Baroque and Rococo styles and their 'joy of life' feel – it talks to my spirit," she says. "I'm inspired by the lavish clothing and the often romantic settings in these paintings. I like some of that in my personal home decor as well – I like velvet curtains, Rococo pattern on a lounge chair, and large flower setups."

A portrait of an older woman with white spiky hair, wearing a bright red dress and oversized sunglasses and holding two red balloons, against a backdrop of clock faces. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 by Martina Wärenfeldt.

"This was an idea inspired by AI-produced images where elderly people wearing cool attire has been a big trend," explains Martina. "I wanted to produce my own take on it, but all in camera." Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM lens at 56mm, 1/125 sec, f/8 and ISO 250. © Martina Wärenfeldt

A softly lit portrait of a cat wearing a green jewelled necklace, taken on a Canon EOS R5 by Canon Ambassador Martina Wärenfeldt.

A painterly-style portrait inspired by the idea of producing a line of couture pet portraits. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM lens at 74mm, 1/125 sec, f/8 and ISO 160. © Martina Wärenfeldt

Martine continues: "When I started as a portrait photographer, I always wanted to have a say about styling. I could see that by balancing the clothing and the backdrop it was possible to create harmony in the pictures. I remember clients coming in with all kinds of clothing that was, in my eyes, terrible for portraits, and it killed my creative spirit. I have always been driven by colour and aesthetics, so I shaped my process to show my clients the 'right' styling. With fine art portraits, I can use my creativity to elevate my pictures."

What do you hope is the lasting impact of your work when people are photographed by you?

"To gain a huge amount of self-worth, see themselves in a new light and realise they can look amazing – and that they are worth the luxury of giving themselves that experience. I would like my clients to have that confidence boost, and lasting memories of a moment in time."

What do props add to your photos? Why do you like shooting with books so much?

"Props introduce interest to a fine art portrait, adding to the story. Books have become a favourite because of their beauty. They are stories themselves, so it becomes a story within a story."

What has been key in terms of evolving your photographic business?

"Grit, persistence and being able to analyse the situation and my work throughout the journey. I've always been flexible and not afraid to take responsibility for my actions – or the lack of them."

What advice would you give to people who are considering entering photography competitions?

"Study the level of successful images. Study the techniques and artistry used and try to analyse what made them successful. Practise, and then practise some more. Putting your work out there to be judged is a brave thing to do, but you need to be able to take criticism and grow from it."

One thing I know

Martina Wärenfeldt

"If you can think it, you can achieve it. I have a strong sense that knowledge is power, so if I see somebody doing what I want to do, I might not know where to start but I'll find out and then, step-by-step, make it work. If they can do it, so can I. It's just a matter of figuring it out. Believe in yourself."

Facebook: @Mstudio, fotograf Martina Wärenfeldt


Website: wärenfeldt.com

Martina Wärenfeldt's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Martina Wärenfeldt's kitbag containing a Canon camera, lenses and accessories.


Canon EOS R5

Capture sensational 45MP photos at up to 20fps or flick a switch for cinematic 12-bit 8K RAW video using the entire width of the camera's sensor. "I had a Canon EOS 5D Mark III until I moved to the Canon EOS R5 three years ago," says Martina. "Being a non-technical photographer, I am loving how user-friendly it is. The Eye Detection AF has been a game-changer."


Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM

A lightweight and versatile L-series zoom with fast, silent autofocus and 5-stops of IS. "I use this for most of my studio work," says Martina. "It has a good range, and the zoom enables me to quickly rearrange my composition without losing momentum with my subjects."

Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM

A super-compact f/2.8 telephoto zoom that incorporates a 5-stop Optical Image Stabilizer to ensure great handheld results. "I prefer this when outside or away from my studio," Martina says. "It's a beautiful lens that is fast and sharp with a really nice depth of field."

Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM

A compact, quiet and lightweight 50mm RF prime lens, with a wide f/1.8 aperture, perfect for harnessing your creative vision. "I don't use this a lot in my everyday work, but it is so easy and lightweight to bring on trips and to events," says Martina. "It was the only lens I once took on a longer trip and I used it to shoot portraits for paying clients. It worked beautifully."


Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000

An A2 desktop printer with class-leading colour and fidelity. "This is an amazing printer and my workhorse in the studio," says Martina. "It's been working so well for almost six years, even after some concrete dust got into it during a studio remodelling."

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