Many readers have already appreciated Tommy Martin’s images for the Innisfree collection as well as several other designs published by The Fibre Co. so we thought you’d like to get to know him a little better.
How did you become a photographer?
I started out when I was 19 when a good friend recommended me to an editorial and fashion photographer who needed an assistant. I was completely unqualified, but very enthusiastic. After my first shoot I became completely hooked on making photographs. I went on to work for a few different commercial photographers, before setting out on my own. Over the years I’ve shot everything from fashion to portraits to still life and weddings and worked in commercial photography, graphic design and retouching.
How did the connection with Cumbria begin?
In 2004 I went on holiday in the Lake District and fell in love with the place. Six months later I’d rented a cottage in a tiny village near Ullswater. A big part of the motivation to move was my growing obsession with landscape photography. I was very fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time developing my landscape style, which led to a few exhibitions, an artists’ residency and eventually running my own gallery. My landscape work, in turn, led to a whole new area of commercial work shooting lifestyle images for outdoor clothing and equipment companies and location fashion shoots for a couture designer who is based up here.
What attracted you to working with The Fibre Co?
My roots are in fashion photography while my passion is landscape photography. Most of my recent commercial work has been in outdoor pursuits and sports, which I love, but waterproof jackets aren’t the most beautiful garments in the world. Stylist Maggi Toner-Edgar introduced me to The Fibre Co. and Daphne was looking for someone to bring together fashion and landscape imagery. That’s exactly the kind of work that I’m interested in and the fact that that The Fibre Co. is producing these gorgeous natural yarns and commissioning designs that fit so easily into the environment of the Lake District is the icing on the cake!
Any favourite places to photograph?
That has to be Ullswater and the valleys that surround it. It’s been my local lake since I moved to Cumbria and the place I keep coming back to. One of the things I learned early on in my landscape photography is that the best pictures are almost always the ones taken in the places you know the best. As you see a place in different weather and changing seasons and you get to know the geography you get a better understanding of how to photograph it. I have a list of places that I need to return to when the conditions are just right. The better I get to know Ullswater, the longer that list gets.
Working with The Fibre Co. has added a whole other dimension to the places I know so well, bringing figures into the scenes that I have previously shot purely as landscapes. The understanding of weather and light that I’ve developed as a landscape photographer are probably now my biggest asset as a fashion photographer.
Is there any knitting experience in your life right now?
Not directly. I was brought up in home-made and hand-knitted clothes and my children receive a steady stream of beautiful knitwear from my mum. I’ve always watched her knitting and thought it looks a bit like magic so it’s on my list of things to learn. One day …
You can see more of Tommy’s work in his online gallery.