Top Somerset wedding photographer Martin Hill has only been in the business for a relatively short amount of time, but he’s managed to cram in over 300 beautiful weddings since he began. So how does an ex-Royal Marine become one of the best wedding photographers in the UK? We chatted to the Wedding Ideas Award nominee about shooting real weddings and where he finds his inspiration…
An exciting career
“My working life before photography was very simple,” Martin explains. “I spent over ten years serving with the Royal Marines. It was actually while I was stationed out in the South American jungle that I first got the buzz for photography. I was nearing the end of my military career by this point, and the feeling I got from my camera was so exciting – if I’m honest it felt better than holding a gun.”
Learning from the best
Upon leaving the services, Martin still had that burning desire for photography, but just didn’t know where to begin. “I worked in NHS management for a few years, and hated every second of it!” He laughs. “So I bought a stack of photography magazines, attended workshops and set about learning my craft.”
However, it wasn’t until Martin met renowned wedding photographer Damien Lovegrove that things began to fall in to place. “Damien really took me under his wing, not only did I really admire his work, but I absolutely trusted everything he was telling me, and I learnt so much,” remembers Martin. “Great lighting is the key to all great photography, and he taught me to hone my skills here, and how to sculpt my subjects in both natural and artificial light.”
A master in the making
Having learnt from the master, Martin now encompasses the art of great lighting into his unique style of photography. “I love to light my couples, and use that to build drama and romance within an image,” he says. “I’m also a great believer in letting all my individual couples dictate the style and manor in which I shoot. I feel that to get the best look, you need to allow the couple to feel relaxed and trust you, and then you can let them create their style for you.”
Martin is known for both beautiful candid images of real weddings and for what he calls ‘fine art photography’ where specific shots take on the appearance of a fine-art painting – an exciting alternative form of photography for couples looking for something a little bit different.
Martin also gets all the inspiration he needs from his couples. “Quite often the bride and grooms that I work with will have seen an image from a wedding magazine or my website that they then want to adapt to suit their own needs,” says Martin. “We use that as the initial inspiration and starting point, then let it flow from there. I also find inspiration from other creatives, for documentary imagery I love the work of Gustave Caillebotte, but for portraits you can’t beat the way Rembrandt used lighting – he was a true master.”
In his role as a wedding photographer, Martin gets to travel all over the world, but it was an Indian wedding that really stole his heart. “I’ve been very lucky in my career so far to have shot so many different weddings, but there’s one that really sticks out in my mind. I was selected to shoot the wedding of Samit and Taran in Udaipur the City of Lakes in India,” recalls Martin. “I was one of three photographers from different parts of the world, and it was my task to take care of the bride Taran. Needless to say, that experience will stay with me forever.”
Looking towards the future, Martin is still actively involved with his former mentor Damien Lovegrove, who he now works for as part of their training team. Martin has also been ranked within the top ten as part of the International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers, an accolade thoroughly deserved. With an exciting year ahead and a diary filling up nicely with wedding bookings for 2013, the future is very bright for Martin Hill Photography.
To find out more about Martin, and to see more of his work visit his website.