“It’s always been what I wanted to do” – My Journey
How did I my business?
Is something I get asked a lot. Quite frequently by aspiring photographers and students for their art projects. I wish my inspirations had been so accessible on social media back when I had to do research projects.
It’s still so mad to think that I inspire anyone. I’m just me.
It sounds cliché but I’ve literally always wanted to do this, photograph horses. In 2011 everyone around me didn’t think that horse photoshoots would be a sustainable living. So throughout my ten years, I’ve done five weddings (one of which was videography and the last one shadowing another photographer, I thought it would be less stressful but it wasn’t.
I’ve done regattas, parties, all sorts.
Now it’s just ponies and I’m really happy about that.
My grades were not outstanding. B in art at school and only a C in photography at college. I graduated with a degree but honestly, you don’t need the education to do this, you need the eye, gumption and be willing to invest in incredible mentoring.
During college, I waited on at a pub for some pocket cash. While doing a few shoots here and there. For how I started I just photographed my friend and her horse and then eventually started charging for it. When I started I was £30. £30!! That wouldn’t even cover travel!
After the false uni start at Manchester, mum forced me to get out of bed, this was a really hard time in my life, the worst actually. Suffering intensely from depression and I don’t remember it well. I went to do a foundation year at a different college in my home town. I made the best friends and truly got to explore something that wasn’t photography. Sixth form had knocked my confidence massively getting a C and the tutor said things like “I’ve seen far too many girls floating in dresses” he criticised me and criticised me with no constructive help, I couldn’t understand how to improve or impress him to get the grade. He left the year we did.
So exploring sewing and the way I was feeling was amazing.
I did the 52 week project outside of college doing conceptual portraits, when my tutor saw this he wanted me to scrap the 50 text sewn pieces for the photos. I compromised and said we will do both. They put the lake image on the advert for the show. This did light a fire back inside of me. Oh, external validation. But heck I was young!
When I went to commute to Uni, I was working at the pub, Jessops and had the horses. I quit the pub and I’m still not sure how I did it all. In 2015 after a few years working for the local event photography company, they retired. I took on SO many events. I couldn’t believe how successful my business had suddenly become.
In 2017 we did our first British eventing event, this was huge for us and still makes me nervous, a lot of work goes into making this happen.
2015-2016 I wasn’t doing many portrait shoots at all, I did lots of art for uni and photographing on 35mm film for fun and adding text by scanning in the negatives. Still love that project.
I lost my motivation a bit and creativity, I guess event photography and working in my business instead of on it took it away.
I’m so glad that’s flipped now.
I graduated uni and the last few months of mainly written work were a huge struggle, I wanted to quit so bad. Business was booming and I didn’t see why I needed a degree. But it was literal weeks left. I knew I had to see It through. With the false start at Manchester (I stayed one night in halls and came home the next morning), I couldn’t let two unis beat me.
From then on, I’ve been approached by brands and some really incredible ones at that, and it has just grown. I’ve taken opportunities and I’ve turned things down that no longer fit my path.
I hope this was interesting. I’ve done a brief timeline list below if anyone wants more info on the journey.
2011 I set up my Facebook page and started doing a few shoots using my new to me DSLR
I then left school that year with a few A’s an A* in the practical for drama (shock haha!) but a C in the written brought it down to an A, a few B’s C’s and two D’s! Maths and woodwork were not my strengths.
College graphics, photography & film studies
Got my first new D-SLR another canon
Doing more shoots
2012 had my first stand
Tried to go to Manchester uni.
Did a foundation art year
2013 passed my driving test & got my first car for £500 off a friend so drove to college
Started working with country style and doing event photography working for them
Commuted to Wolverhampton uni
changed to Nikon
2015 country style retired and I took on events
Started working at Jessops and left my waiting on job of three years
We bought our horsebox ginny and printed onsite
Started shooting on film and doing more personal projects
2016 started photographing at Kelsall
Did our first British eventing event
2018 onwards you’ll know from my social media. I could do a blog on my more recent years!
Hope you’ve enjoyed,
Martha x x
LET'S CATCH UP
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Martha is an acclaimed equine photographer based in Shropshire specialising in Equine Portrait Photography.