The Moment Captured
For Lowell Photographer Henry Marte, Storytelling Lies at the Heart of the Image
Lowell-based Henry Marte isn’t just a photographer. He’s also a videographer, a storyteller with a penchant for the cinematic, a teacher, and a marketing professional who keeps the public informed about the cultural scene surrounding Western Avenue Studios and Lofts.
Marte’s life could have taken a very different path. He put aside a teenage interest in the arts as impractical. “Being the product of immigrants, you’re told art isn’t a reliable source of income,” says Marte, who grew up in Inwood, a small neighborhood on the northern tip of Manhattan, the son of parents from the Dominican Republic.
After dropping out of college, he enlisted in the Army National Guard, then went into event production, working at venues like Yankee Stadium and Madison Square Garden. The job gave him the opportunity to travel around the country. Still, he couldn’t shake the art bug. After his dad gave him his first DSLR camera for his birthday in 2014 — an entry-level Canon Rebel T3 — his teenage interest in the visual arts resurfaced.
Event planning and Marte’s interest in photography came together when he got a full-time job for Spartan Race, the famed extreme obstacle course promotor. Marte moved to Lowell so he could be closer to his three siblings and his father, who owns a small business. From there, he would travel the country a few times a month, taking pictures of Spartan racers during their most intense moments: emerging from mud, jumping over fire, reaching with bleeding hands to scale walls, faces contorted with exertion. Shooting for Spartan Race gave Marte a down-and-dirty education in how a single image can tell a larger story.
While Marte still shoots adventure races and similar events, including the Providence Marathon, he took over marketing duties for Western Avenue Studios as his primary occupation in December 2019.
Marte now lives in a Western Avenue loft, and his neighbors include some of the most prominent figures in Lowell’s cultural scene. These artists come from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from those just out of art school to people who have been involved with their craft for decades.
As his interest in photography deepened, Marte began shooting more and more video. This was partly because his clients were also interested in videography services and because of his own childhood fascination with Hollywood movies.
At first, he used his Canon Rebel T3 to make small clips. Over time, his equipment grew in technological sophistication. He even moved into aerial photography, flying drones over Fenway Park for one client. As part of a campaign video for another client, Marte was shooting Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood when the Federal Aviation Administration grounded his drone, and he couldn’t get a code to unlock it until he signed the necessary paperwork. To see some of the footage and to take a look at what else he’s been up to, visit him on Instagram: @martemedia.
To develop his entrepreneurial skills, Marte enrolled in EforAll, the business accelerator program, as part of their 2021 winter cohort. The experience helped clarify his vision — he wants to do larger projects but also to keep working with small businesses because of his family background.
Marte also does marketing for the Lowell Cultural Council, and works with Lowell’s Economic Development Office on its “Be Loyal 2 Local” initiative. And this summer, he taught an introduction to short-form video making at Refuge Lowell, a youth art education space in Western Avenue Studios.
Marte still finds time to pursue creative projects as a means of self-expression. In October 2020, he photographed ballerina Macy Woodard in downtown Lowell. These photos of Woodard, a dance, yoga and acrobatics instructor from Baldwinville, Mass., contrast the classical beauty of the model with the industrial grit of the Mill City. The images took on additional layers of meaning as they were shot at a time in the COVID-19 outbreak when many live venues were shuttered.
And he still likes to push his creative boundaries through travel. At the time of this writing, Marte was planning a late-August journey to Iceland for an eight-day photo safari. He hopes to shoot active volcanoes.
On top of his commercial, marketing, teaching and personal work, Marte sells prints at local markets such as the monthly Western Avenue Open Studios and the outdoor events sponsored by Merrimack Valley Black & Brown Voices.
If all this sounds like a lot, Marte blames his father for his strong work ethic. But beyond the discipline required to handle such an intense schedule is a seemingly irresistible need to make his mark on the culture of our region. “It’s just a desire … to create things that are impactful — things people remember,” Marte says.