My personal work allows me to get back to the reason I started taking photos. If I’m enjoying making the work, it’s worth it.
Simon Martin is a busy freelance photographer, shooting product and table top for brands like Boots, as well as fashion and e-commerce.
Alongside his commercial work, he maintains a strong output of personal projects and in recent years he’s created projects on his home town of Sittingbourne looking at the impact of development and property speculation, and a series on mini-golf “an untainted sport, one without celebrity, greed or money.”
He’s sharing his project, Cadets, which started life as a commission for Hunger Magazine but developed into a personal exploration of commitment to a strict regime.
Portrait photographs by Simon Day
WHAT’S YOUR DAY JOB?
I’m a freelance photographer, my main income is from commercial photography which is very different to the images I take in my own time.
I’ve learnt a lot from creating for clients and it has influenced how I work.
WHY IS PERSONAL WORK IMPORTANT?
When I first graduated personal work was all that mattered. Photography wasn’t a job for me yet and whatever funded my own work was a must do.
Now I’m a freelance photographer, the need to make work that attracts clients is always in the back of my mind, and has definitely influenced the decisions I make.
I’ve managed to settle my nerves with this lately though and I’m trying to separate my working creative brain from the brain I try to drive when creating personal work.
Combining portraits with documentary photography
WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL PROJECT?
Cadets looks at the social interactions and activities whilst attending Royal Marine Cadets.
The project originally started as a commission but I knew I wanted to continue the project further. My interest lies in the time the 13-18 year olds were willing to volunteer to the cadets, somewhere that seemed even more strict and regimented than school, which is a place I never enjoyed.
WHAT DID YOU HOPE TO ACHIEVE WITH IT?
I wanted to produce body of work that made the viewer reconsider their initial gut reaction to the subject. Seeing young men in military uniforms allows you to jump to a lot of conclusions and many of them will be true, but the reasons for their attendance and the intentions of the cadets education itself I found to be different from person to person.
Besides any political or educational statement, I simply wanted to make a window for people to see into a point in time that they otherwise would not of been able to see.
WHAT’S YOUR NEXT PERSONAL PROJECT?
I currently have a long term project based in my home town of Sittingbourne that is still in progress and will be for a while.
WHAT ARE YOU WATCHING OR LISTENING TO AT THE MOMENT?
I’ve been really enjoying Actors Roundtable on YouTube lately, its incredible to hear people who’s art form is muddied with celebrity so often talk passionately about what they do and how they’ve got there.
WHAT GADGET OR TOOL COULDN’T YOU LIVE WITHOUT
Any of my cameras as I usually have at least one of them on me all the time.
WHO’S YOUR PROFESSIONAL SOURCE OF INSPIRATION?
Charlotte Godfrey, my partner, is a huge source of professional inspiration.
About Personal Work Journal
PWJ is a photo journal dedicated to showcasing new photography from emerging and established photographers.