Having lived over 200 days in lockdowns, Melbourne-based interiors, lifestyle and travel photographer Martina Gemmola has certainly brought some semblance of organisation, routine and fun to her family’s many days in isolation.
And in between lockdown? She’s learnt to live fast, work quickly and pack as much as she possibly can in. Married to another photographer, they team up for tag-teaching, taking turns to host learning sessions for their two small boys, abandon homeschooling at 2pm, and set out on creekside adventures together.
A calm, generous soul (she once turned up laden with a stack of pizzas for a starving production team), Martina’s eye for detail, colour and life has meant she’s travelled the world and is in demand for many big name titles such as Vogue Living, Elle Italia, Belle, House & Garden, Inside Out, Home Beautiful, Real Living, Frankie Magazine, Peppermint Magazine and many more.
We leapt at the chance to chat with Martina who captured herself in lockdown (in her bathroom, with the door locked).
Tell us what an ordinary day in your house looks like in lockdown: An ordinary day is actually rather extraordinary. Every day our humble home magically and messily morphs into all the things needed to live the life of two adults and two small humans. Firstly a cafe – serving up numerous weetbix, homemade sourdough (not mine) and essential caffeine fixes. Next up it's a school and childcare centre and all those walls I was hopeful to hang my beautiful artworks on have been taken over by spelling charts, times tables, and craft projects made out of fabric scraps and dried beans. Both my husband and I are photographers, which means no work allowed outside of the home during those 200 + days. We take turns to homeschool, so the front end of our house becomes the office too. We close the door and pretend we have left the house so our three year old doesn't bang down the door. By morning recess the house has become a race track, and I wince as the boys cut corners on their trikes around the island bench. We give up on home school by about lunchtime, and fill in some time as a library/toy shop/baking school/gardening centre. By mid afternoon the place is a total zoo and we are relieved to get out for our daily exercise allowance on the nearby creek. The creek is magnificent and we feel very lucky to have it in our backyard. Back home again and we open the restaurant/bar/disco/bathhouse and by night time I am just happy to have turned the house back into its normal state where my bed is waiting for me.
Have there been any surprising highlights about lockdown? The last year or so for us have been about racing and rest. Every time we open up for business as usual it's a total sprint to get work rebooked, produced & shot as there is no guarantee how long we will be out for. It is flat chat and burnout is inevitable, but you just hope you can make it to the next lockdown before it happens. So when lockdown does happen, the pause in normal life can be a little blessing, to recharge the batteries, catch up on sleep, and finally finish all five seasons of The Bureau. Also, hanging out with my boys is actually the real prize. They are pretty great.
Worst bit? I miss my mates. I miss dancing with them. I miss cheese toasties at the bar on a Thursday night. I miss me, outside of the house.
Have you learnt anything about yourself during this time? That I believe there is no problem that can't be solved with a lasagne delivery. Right? Wrong?
Has lockdown given you another creative perspective? Oh, how good is creative thinking time? I sure haven't had a lot of it over the last five or so years, so it feels good to just have a bit of space to do it. I am at the stage of my career where I feel ready to be able to give back a bit more, in some capacity. I am not sure exactly what or how yet, but if these lockdowns continue I am sure with all that extra brain space I will sort it out.
Taken up any pandemic hobbies? As often as I can I log on to a Body Electric dance class at 5:30pm for a half hour Zoom boogie and stretch, often whilst running a bath or navigating around a small child pressing the laptop buttons. I'm yet to find the time to become a master knitter or really good at a skincare regime. Maybe lockdown no. 72?
What’s your favourite lockdown snack? I differentiate the weekdays to the weekends by eating icecream on Friday/Saturday nights. Indeed, supporting local gelaterias is a good thing. But here's the kicker. It must have layered on top – Ice Magic. Don't judge me.
And what’s your go-to toast topping? My current favourite has to be a huge glug of Greek olive oil (I am lucky enough to have it on tap from my husband's family grove) and thick slices of Italian aged parmesan. It's the best from both our ancestries in a breakfast.
Lockdown tip? (how are you getting through the tedium of being at home 24/7?) Routine has been the key for our little family to cope with the ups and downs of the last year and a half. In the early days we tried to wing each day and quickly realised it just created more stress and tears. It's been really important for Ari and I to make sure each of us gets time alone or a walk/ride with a friend at least every second day. That time is crucial.
Feeling fortunate about... not losing anyone I love to this horrific virus. Being vaccinated. Having hugs on tap.
If you could be anywhere in the world - pandemic and vaccination passport aside - where would you be and with who? Mainland Greece, on the coast. Family. Friends. Whoever the hell wants to come.
Current favourite song? 'Don't You Worry' by Electric Fields. I saw them at Golden Plains just before everything turned upside down and if I play it really loud I can almost take on the message.
Martina wears the Melody Soph dress throughout.