Multimedia creative Martin Romero and his journey through fashion and fitness

red line

red line

Martin by The Met’s front steps

Martin by The Met’s front steps

By Dominic Garcia

We met at Bryant Park on 42nd and Sixth. After exchanging pleasantries, we mused on how long it had been since we last saw each other while we made our way toward a Thai restaurant in Queens. “Probably during one of our friend’s birthdays,” he said.

Multimedia creative Martin Romero is broad-shouldered and lean, his passion for CrossFit apparent from his physique as well as his incredible photos and videos.

“I remember looking up to athletes like Annie Thorisdotir and Frederik Aegidius when I was still back in Manila,” he recalled. “I just used to watch them on YouTube and social media and now I get to hang out with them every now and then. If you think about it, I’m super fortunate because they’re from Europe but the gym they go to when they visit New York is my gym!”

Despite not knowing how he would do it back then, Martin had this certainty that he would be working and living in another country. When he got accepted in New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, it brought him one step closer to achieving this goal.

“I had my eye on this program for quite some time. I felt this would allow me to hone my skills as a creative and learn more about other forms of media to tell my stories,” he said.

Athlete Annie Thorisdotir in training

Athlete Annie Thorisdotir in training

His love for photography started when he and his cousins got disposable cameras for Christmas. Later on, Martin joined his college publication where he got accepted as an Operations Staff Member. He eventually became the publication’s photo editor, covering the university’s social and sporting events. He was about to take an apprenticeship in photography but an opportunity to work for the communications team of former President of the Philippines Benigno S Aquino III presented itself and photography was on hold for a while.

“I couldn’t pass that up,” he simply said. But Martin knew he still wanted to pursue a more creative path.

In the past couple of years, he rolled from one assignment to another: A photo essay published in CNN Philippines on Filipinos in New York City protesting the hero’s burial of dictator Ferdinand Marcos; Pia Wurtzbach’s final photoshoot as Miss Universe for 2015; a video feature for UNICEF’s Office of Innovation; a documentary for Filipina designer Rosenthal Tee’s collection at New York Fashion Week; and working in NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Office for Economic Opportunity as an all-around creative doing User Experience research, visual design and strategy.

“It’s been a hodge-podge of creative media and utilizing it to create and design content,” he said.

Pia Wurtzbach’s pictorial was memorable for Martin. He assisted chief photographer Filbert Kung, who specializes in fashion and advertising photography, during the full day-long shoot that took place at Hudson Yards Loft. Martin did the behind-the-scenes photos.

“It was nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time. The shoot was long but it was one of the easiest in the sense that everybody was a joy to work with, from the makeup artists to the stylists,” he said.

Martin doesn’t consider himself just a photographer, but rather a multimedia creative using music, text, audio and video to illustrate his stories.

“I feel like everyone is extremely competitive to the fact that you can’t limit yourself to one medium,” he said.

2015 Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach: ‘Nerve-wracking, exciting shoot’

2015 Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach: ‘Nerve-wracking, exciting shoot’

Born in San Juan, Metro Manila, Martin comes from a large family. He counts three siblings, 11 cousins from his father’s side of the family and more than 30 cousins from his mother’s side, not to mention the four dogs that keep his parents company for when the kids are away traveling. He marvels at how his grandmother remembers all the cousins’ birthdays and makes it a point to greet them through text, call or FaceTime. He grew up in Tarlac and went to Don Bosco Technical Institute Tarlac for grade school and high school.

His father Vivencio Romero Jr. is an engineer, while his mother Tinette runs a family restaurant with her siblings.

He believes his work with the CrossFit athletes sharpened his skills.

“When you see top-level athletes train, there is this sense of…grace in their form, how effortless they can execute a move,” he said. “Soon, everybody was asking me to create a video for them!”

Sports photography is a different kind of discipline, said Martin.

“Everything is so fast-paced that I don’t feel stressed changing settings and lenses on the fly. Sometimes I switch from photography to videography mid-shoot and that’s not an easy thing to do since the settings would vary as well,” he explained.

His goal as a visual creative is to be able to “marry” traditional media with new technology innovations.

“Wouldn’t it be great, for example, if I could heighten the photo exhibit experience or is there a new way of visualizing subjects by making things more innovative?” he said. “Like, static portraits could change its appearance based on the status and mood of your social media account, or a data visualization exhibit on movement based on athletes’ activity data.”

Ultimately, he said, it’s all about making a narrative “interactive, relatable and meaningful” to the person who is viewing the story as it unfolds.

© 2017 The FilAm

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