by Martin Leckie Published 01/12/2015
It all started with painting landscapes in watercolour for Martin Leckie, the 2014 Children Photographer of the Year. Buying a camera to take inspiration pictures for his paintings led to an interest in photography - and it all went from there! Now Martin has been running his photography business for 26 years, specialising first in portraits before branching out 15 years ago to also include weddings.
'I think having a background in painting and studying art history shows in my portrait work. A lot of people say that my images look like paintings.' For Martin it's crucial to create images that feel timeless: 'Classical portraits are about capturing personality, and I try to create images that will become a family heirloom. So many people though are conditioned to only like images that show their child smiling like a school photograph - but if you hired an artist to paint a portrait of you, would they paint you with a big cheesy grin? I just want my work to be simple and all about the child, rather than what they're wearing or the props that surround them.'
When it comes to lighting, Martin likes to keep things straightforward. 'I like to just use one light in the studio. I have big windows where I shoot, but I do like to use one flash head - reflectors and a big soft-box produce a nice light. I really believe in keeping things simple.' And those ideas carry on through to Martin's post-processing too: 'I love using Topaz Adjust on portraits; it works to bring the details out in the shot. And of course I have a collection of textures for the background.'
Martin's clients come to him because they look for quality, both in image selection and in the large-format prints that he offers; 'I allow at least an hour for a shoot, but the image might come 10 seconds in, or I might need the whole hour. I just know when I get the right expression from them and I aim for one really great photo from each session.' Many photographers offer digital files to clients, but Martin believes that this isn't right for his business: 'I give out small images to clients for social media because it promotes me, but generally I'm a bit old fashioned! I don't give clients images on a disc, because they'll put it in the loft and 20 years later their grandchildren will pick it up and ask what it is! They might not even have anything to look at the pictures with either!'
Each year at The Societies' Convention Martin likes to get himself along to as many seminars as possible. 'This year I'm hoping to see David Edmondson speak,' Martin tells me when I ask if he's got his eye on any classes in particular. 'Everything he produces is right up my street, it's all so beautiful - I'm really looking forward to meeting him while he's over from the States.' While Martin tends to focus on the fine art seminars, he's not afraid of dipping into the odd technical skills Masterclass too! 'I'd like to brush up on my off-camera flash. I like shooting weddings with natural light as much as possible, but the weather can be very unpredictable up here! I use reflectors and sometimes an Ice Light - but you can't wander about like Darth Vader all the time!'
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