'Shooting People and Other Stuff" 19 November 2019   
MM4Mike Martin is an award winning photographer who a few years ago started his passion for portrait photography after a group studio session. He says he is a hobbyist photographer and keen member of Bristol and Kingswood Photographic Societies. He photographs a wide range of subjects including urban photos, architecture, plants, beasts and bugs but always likes to ‘think outside the box’
MM3The evening began with Mike showing a great number of his excellent prints in quick succession. Starting with some taken at the start of his photographic journey in about 1996 using film and darkroom techniques. He says later on a group workshops gave him an interest in portraiture and he gained a lot of experience by working with other photographers as they could bounce ideas off one another. A fellow photographer introduced him to the world of models and make-up artists and so together they arranged photo shoots in a variety of interesting locations. Sometimes using natural light and other times setting up artificial light both outdoors and in the indoor setting or studio. The location often gives ideas for interesting poses and models often have to be prepared for anything that is requested!
Props of various sorts are used – backgrounds and costumes convey all sorts of scenarios and anything else can be used to make an interesting image. Mike carries around various items which might come in useful for adding the right colour or effect such as pieces of fabric and says he finds ‘gaffer’ tape often comes in useful to hold things in place. He even arranges for snakes and other reptiles, tarantulas and even scorpions to be used to great effect and models may even have paint dripped on them if Mike feels it creates an interesting effect.
Many of the prints shown were monochrome and with his colour prints he takes great care to make sure the overall tones were harmonious. Often the colours are de-saturated in post-production and great care taken to edit the whole image to his taste. Mike showed several examples of panels of 3 images where the subject and the colours must work well together as a set.
 MM2Mike is always experimenting and looking for new ideas and said he likes to learn something new every day! As well as working with studio set ups he always carries a compact camera to record anything that might make an interesting image or background. MM1Photographs are sometimes taken using infra-red to give interesting effects.

After the break Mike let us into the secrets of how many of his images we had just seen were created. Using projected images he showed the ‘before and after’ which appeared very different.  The advice is to simplify and show only the parts of the image that appeal, think why you took the image and eliminate or disguise everything else. This is sometimes done by cropping, blurring or darkening unwanted areas. Using masks, blend modes, textures and many other techniques the original image can be transformed into something completely different.
Combinations of several images were imaginatively used to create something unique. Mike likes to feel the images have his signature on them and are not similar to any other photographers. Even working alongside others on a group shoot with the same model he can edit his images to look completely different.
Mike was thanked by club chairman Steve Hardman for giving members such an inspiring insight into the creative side of portrait photography and said he expected he might possibly see more creative work from club members in future. PM
Images © Mike Martin