M A R T I N H I G G S
Hi Martin, welcome to Emote !
For those who aren’t familiar with your work, it would be great if you can tell everyone a little about your photography journey..
I started properly about 16 years ago. A hairdresser friend asked me if I’d shoot images for a hair competition for the National Hairdressers Federation (NHF) he was entering in Paris. I borrowed a studio light from a friend and attempted my first proper shoot. A male fashion collection. His entries were accepted and this led to being asked to attend the competition with him in Paris at “MCB - International Exhibition for Hairdressing and Beauty”. This was also a first for me, Paris was really exciting.
I also got to photograph the runway shows at the event, which were breath taking . At this point I was hooked and I haven’t stopped since.
When did you first feel an interest in photography & when did you first pick up a camera ?
I can’t recall exactly when I first picked up a camera. I was probably around 11 yrs old, but it was a point and shoot Kodak film camera that used flash cubes ! Who remembers those ? Lol. My real interest sparked as a result of the trip to Paris as above.
How would you describe your photographic genre/s ?
I guess I’m best classed as a portrait photographer. I love to photograph people, I really enjoy the creativity of beauty, hair and fashion.
How has your artistic style changed over the years ?
I’ve done a lot of studio photography, I say studio. I’ve never owned one. What I really mean is studio flash photography. I shot wherever I could. Lots of salons for hair shoots and in many homes of the creatives
involved. This was challenging at times, dealing with low ceilings, windows, mirrors, background clutter,
pets etc. But it’s made me adaptable to many situations.
Nowadays I love to shoot on location in natural light, sometimes incorporating flash as well.
I’m enjoying shooting less perfect,
retouched looks in favor of more natural results with less post processing.
I’ve often collaborated with a high end retoucher, Stefka Pavlova for images and clients that require it. It takes a while to find a retoucher that matches your style and has an impeccable service you can rely on. Some photographers like to own the process end to end.
But that’s never bothered me. I like the fact I can give work to another professional. Recently I’ve been processing far more myself because pore level detail isn’t
necessary for much of my personal work.
I’d be the first to admit I’m not a particularly creative photographer, that side often comes from other members of the team. I prefer the technical side, probably due to my I.T. background. I like to adapt to the situation and make the best of it I can.
I’ve done so many shoots now that the planning and organizing has started to become a little tedious, like herding cats. Many of my favorite models and creatives have become very popular and finding coinciding dates in our diaries becomes more difficult, particularly for collaborations as opposed to paid jobs. I’d rather just turn up, consider the inspiration / brief and shoot. Other photographers have visions of the final result, one my favorites being Magic Owen, who in my opinion is one of our best fashion editorial photographers in the UK. I admire that but it’s not generally how I work at all.
I love to travel with photographer friends I’ve met along the way. 2-3 trips a year to retreats worldwide with professional models in great locations. I’ve shot in the USA - California, Spain, France and Portugal to name a few. We all enjoy the photography and admire the way we all have different styles and results from the same experience.
It’s fantastic to enjoy a day shooting.
Then relax and socialize with the group over great food and drink from the areas we visit.
Hair: @nathanjasztal & @zoejasztal
Make up: @t.makeup.london @kryolanuk
Using: @kevinmurphyuk & @ebladescissors
Describe your favorite shoot....
I’ve had many favorites, I guess I’d say any shoot that involves a lot of fun and creativity in the making and results to be proud of becomes a favorite. I’ve met so many incredible people in the process, many of which have become friends. I used to be shy as a teenager and photography has certainly helped bring me out of my shell and gain some confidence.
If you had to pick one which would it be ?
A beauty shoot in a boutique hotel bathroom with models Liv Free and Romanie Smith comes to mind.
Shooting 2 models laying in a bath was a challenge for them and me. As was cleaning oily makeup pigments from a white roll top bath afterwards, without any proper cleaning products to hand ! I really thought we’d trashed the bath and was expecting a bill.
Black & White or Colour ?
Both have their place. But I think I’m becoming recognized for my B&W’s. If I had to, I could happily just shoot B&W. It’s more timeless in my opinion. Many of my fellow photographers are using film again.
Personally I don’t think I have the patience for that. I’ve never used a dark room.
Studio or On Location ?
Location 100%. I can always treat a location like a studio. But I can’t re-create a location in a studio on my budget. If there is one thing I can’t stand it’s tacky studio props.
Artificial Light or Natural ?
I love both but I’m moving more towards natural light these days. I love to incorporate shadows and smooth tonal transitions across my subjects. I also like to sandwich my subjects between out of focus areas in front and behind. I’m learning not to shoot too shallow DoF. f 2.2-4 is becoming my go to aperture range in the right light. Even if my lens will shoot at f1.4. I’m also keeping an eye on shutter speeds not getting too low. I love sharp eyes in my images. It’s unlikely you’ll ever see a blurry image from me.
They all end up in the bin.
Can you describe a stand out moment/s in your photographic journey which you are really proud of ?
Helping a client and team win the British Hairdressing Awards for his region in 2019. We had been finalists 7 consecutive times, which is an achievement in itself. But to win was what I really wanted for the team after so much time and effort. It’s probably one of the most prestigious events of the year, very glamourous and a privilege to attend.
Are there any photographers which you take inspiration from & why ?
Many including Russell James, Rankin, Herb Ritts, Vincent Peters and others.
But right now I’m most
inspired by the recently departed Peter Lindbergh.
What are your plans for the rest of 2020 ?
I have some commercial shoots planned and more casual photographic trips abroad. I’m inspired every time I shoot away from home.
I have trips to France and Crete planned already.
If you could work alongside anyone in the creative field who would it be ?
It would probably be a famous hair stylist or makeup artist such as Angelo Seminara or Pat McGrath. It would also be great to work with a movie star such as Charlize Theron or Margot Robbie too, of course..
Model: @jaye.hicks MUA: @gwenreecemakeupartist Retoucher: @stefkapavlova
Keep up to date with Martin over on his IG
@emotemag In aid of @musculardystrophyuk
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