Martins, Edgar (1977)

Portuguese photographer and writer, Edgar Martins (1977), is something of a wunderkind. At 18, before attending college, he published his first book, a fictional novel filled with philosophical musings and aesthetic theory. Having grown up in China, Martins moved to the UK, where he completed undergrad and graduate work in photography. His camera work since then picks up where the novel left off: Martins attempts to frame and compose images that portray beauty in the most unlikely of locales. It is not unusual to find him making color images natural disaster sites – forest fires, earthquake aftermath and volcanic remains – or seeing something that others miss in barren tundra, empty beaches and uninhabited desert land. Martins even seeks beauty in the man-made, transforming highways, dams and runways into things of beauty through his lens.

In 2009, Martins was at the center of a controversy surrounding his photos in the New York Times magazine. In an essay accompanying the shots, Martins claimed that his images were obtained with a long exposure time, but without manipulation. When several experts later pointed out that the pictures had obviously been digitally touched, the editors removed the essay and supposedly confronted Martins. Several curators and photographers joined the fray, some speaking for and some against Martins, but most of them maintaining that fictionalizing – and even forging – of reality is part and parcel of photographic art.