Martin Hambleton has been one of our ‘go-to’ photographers since we launched Business Connect Magazine in 2013. As a renowned commercial photographer, he has been in constant demand for many business networking events around the Greater Manchester region, and we have worked together on a fantastic range of charity lunches, expos, awards and also interviews with famous faces like Theo Paphitis, plus a host of high profile business leaders. We caught up with Martin to see what he provides for the business community, and also to see how he’s fared since lockdown in 2020:
Martin – tell us about Martin Hambleton Photography?
“I’ve been a freelance photographer for the past 18 years. I specialise in commercial photography – creating marketing and branding material for companies. Usually, that means visiting a business to see what they do and create photos that get that across. During that process a company’s USP tends to stand out, and I concentrate on getting images that convey that.
“For service industries especially, that’s valuable, as they can struggle to get across in words what makes them different, but photos can show it very effectively. Breaking that down, I create image banks for website use and social media; shoot a lot of headshots and portraits, and shoot product for online selling, catalogues, and so on.
“I shoot a wide variety of business events too; which is where we often bump into one another!”
How did you become a photographer?
“I caught the bug as a teenager. These were the days of film and processing your own black and whites in a home darkroom. I loved it, and thought about pursuing it when I left school. However, after university I followed a teaching career.
“But the desire to be a photographer kept bubbling to the surface. I spent a couple of years working out a way to create a business and try to live my childhood dream. Then in 2003 the opportunity arose, as my children left nursery to attend school. Not paying nursery fees gave me the financial break to take the leap… and I did. It took a few years, but the commissions started to come in, and eventually I’ve kept going to where I am now.”
What’s the best picture would you say you have taken, or memorable event covered?
“‘Best’ changes all the time. It’s a bit like asking what your favourite record is – it depends so much on the mood you’re in at the time of asking. But there’s one photo of my daughter that means a lot, and not just as a family memento. It was a black and white portrait I shot when she was 3, and still hangs in the house.
“Enough people commented on how much they liked it at the time that it gave me the courage to think maybe I could cut it as a professional. Starting out, I shot a lot of weddings and family events. I’ve had messages over the years saying a much loved relative has passed away and how much people treasure the photos of them having a great time on a lovely occasion. Hearing people say things like that really resonates, you know? It’s lovely to think that you’ve created something for somebody that means so much.”
How was lockdown for you?
“As soon as lockdown was announced, my work just dried up. Because we couldn’t come into contact with other people, that meant 75% of what I do wasn’t possible. I already shot a small amount of product photography, and I simply did more of that. Of course, there was an increased demand too, which was nice!
“That’s something I’ve decided to promote much more going forward. I also spent more time simply taking photos for me – taking a camera with me when I walked the dogs, observing my neighbourhood much more closely, recording the changes in the seasons. Being out and about is good for your mental health, and building a photo library of personal work did me a lot of good.”
How is business today for you?
“Pretty good. Enquiries are coming in regularly, and more and more people are returning to the office, so old contacts are getting in touch to update their marketing material. I’m not back to where I was in 2019 yet, but the trend is good. Plus, with the extra emphasis on shooting product photography, I’m hoping to expand into new markets and pick up some new clients too.”
What other avenues in photography are you looking achieve moving forward?
“I’ve done a couple of photo walks over the past couple of years, and they’ve been well received. While they were pretty relaxed affairs, I did tap into my teaching background to try to make them educational too. I’d like to offer more of those; perhaps a series running throughout the year that builds up both technical and picture making knowledge. In fact, I’d like to run two series. One aimed at keen amateur photographers who are looking to get better, and one for business people who want to take better photos for work with their smartphones.”