Born in England. Went to school in Sawbridgeworth, England. Remembers playing with water tanks at age 4. Received first plastic camera in small box, age 9. Started assisting other photographers at age 17. Moved to London age 19. Discovered pubs age 19. Started own studio age 23. Fascinated with all things shiny. Has travelled around the world on and off. Paints watercolour landscapes. Never shows watercolours to anyone. Adores Rioja. Loves airplanes. Discovered New York in 1999. Has shot virtually every sort of liquid form of refreshment for sale in the world.
Quite simply in all my years I have never seen such perfection in a photobook. Nobody in London or New York can produce such perfection from what I’ve seen.
Martin, you started your career as a professional photographer at the age of 17. Some 25+ years later you have reached the highest level in the field of product advertising photography. You are working for the world's best known brands such as Budweiser, Coca-Cola, Mars, Heineken, Johnnie Walker, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Grey Goose, Patron, Converse, La Prairie, McIntosh Hifi, and many more. This is no wonder since your shots are breathtaking. What is your recipe for such rare success in this highly competitive business?
Perseverance, passion and pain. There is no recipe as such. It’s a combination of persistent and unabashed determination and drive. Being a good photographer is not enough to succeed. You need to be giving 150% at all times, every day, on a bad day. That will get you to the first rung on the ladder, after that never stop. Ever. Above all of that, be nice to people. Everyone. Always.
What advice can you give to young ambitioned photographers who are just starting their career?
Set your aim high and learn from every mistake. If you’re not making mistakes you’re doing something wrong. Practice. Perfect. Be nice to everyone. Evolve. Repeat. Marketing is hugely important as well as social networking. By social I don’t mean Facebook, I mean actually being social and actually networking. Make friends in the industry or any industry for that matter as you never know what or who will need your skills down the line.
Obviously, you have acquired a mastery in object photography which is difficult to surpass. Looking at your campaigns, one can hardly find any people photography though. Are you still the little boy who likes technical experiments? Or do you prefer objects from people because there is less hassle involved?
I prefer objects because they are technically much harder to photograph than people. I find it more rewarding to create an amazing image of a very mundane object from nowhere than a glamorous model in a perfect setting. That’s almost too easy. I’m not undermining that work it’s just not as challenging to me.
Despite of the top level you reached, are you still aiming for more or new things? Please tell us about your ideas and future projects.
I’m always aiming higher. I can’t sleep if I start feeling too comfortable. Recently I’ve started shooting more with my Leica S system rather than my normal Sinar system. It’s liberating to be more agile even with rigid still life parameters. I like to go against what I would have done previously to challenge myself. Motion is also a big focus for me and it’s interesting to be able to work with both aspects in tandem. My agency cake-factory continues to evolve and help others develop their career which is very exciting to be a part of too. Watch this space.
We are proud that you ordered some large format photobooks from us. They are intended as portfolios revealing your professional work. How comes that a perfectionist photographer like yourself buys such books from Wädenswil, Switzerland?
Quite simply in all my years I have never seen such perfection in a photobook. When I saw the book you made for my colleague Sandro Baebler, whom we represent through my agency cake-factory, I was floored. Nobody in London or New York can produce such perfection from what I’ve seen. I would go anywhere in the world to have that for myself. Thankfully it was only as far as Switzerland.
What is your opinion on your new portfolios?
Martin, thank you very much for the interview and all the best to you.
wonnacott.com / cakefactory.com