Click play above to watch Border Mail photographer Ben Eyles chat with Tania Martini.
Click or flick the video player across to see some of Tania's otherworldly art.
PREPARE to step through the looking glass with Tania Martini, and into a place where the Border is a fantasy and its people the characters of a fairy tale.
At least, that’s how she loves to portray them in her award-winning photography.
“There’s two brothers, twins, and every time I see them I want them to be Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum for me,” Martini says.
“I look at people like that all the time as though they’re characters from a book.
“There are so many people around here like that and locations I want to photograph, so I see that as my next big project.”
The Wodonga photographer’s work has been featured at the Loupe Awards where she received three silver awards and at the Macquarie Art Prize and the Shutterbug Awards.
But her photography is a world away from where she was a little over two years ago.
Now 42 and a mother to Scarlett, 6, Martini took up a hairdressing apprenticeship straight out of school.
“I hated it,” Martini says.
“Most of my family are hairdressers, but actually that’s how I got into photography.
“I moved to Queensland because an aunt has a salon up there and we did a lot of hair competitions — photographers would come in to take photographs and I picked up a camera.
“Then I just stopped for a long time.”
More recently Martini says she was at Border business Moore Paragon when the company closed down, and at the same time went through a divorce.
“And I thought, what am I going to do?” she says.
“I’d had a lot of meaningless jobs over the years so I went back to school.
“But it was scary — I had a child and wondered how I was going to work, how I was going to get her to school and everything else.”
But Martini was clearly doing something right.
She did her Certificate IV and Diploma of Photo Imaging at Wodonga TAFE and won student of the year for both courses.
“I think I’m lucky enough that deep down I’ve always known I’m creative but I’ve just never known what to do with that,” Martini says.
“And when I started TAFE the teachers were amazing and made me think, OK, maybe I am good at this.”
Of course, family too plays its part.
Her daughter is often a model in her photography.
“You’ve got to have a muse to practice on,” Martini says.
Though whenever working with youngsters, you’ve got to take the good with the bad.
“The only thing now is she wants the camera,” Martini says.
“And she melted her dress one night, then she stood up and the sand caved in and all the candles went.
“I’d set up all these candles up and clicked four times — I was lucky I got a shot.”
Then there’s mum and dad who are both retired and help by making costumes and sets.
“They’re very supportive and they want me to succeed,” Martini says.
“And do whatever they can to help.
“They don’t get it but they try help out with ‘great’ ideas.
“They love my photography but I think they’re confused by it all.
“Mum sews costumes and Dad’s just really handy.
“I’ll say I want this or that and he’ll work it all out, if I ask him to cover a tree in the middle of a paddock with fairy lights he’ll drag out all the extension cords 50 metres.”
But her greatest tool is her imagination that creates a world of whimsy out of the every day.
“I’ve always been a bit different and fantasy just interests me — I love all the colours, that whole feel,” Martini says.