Student Profile Tony Martin

By Sarah Van Arsdale on May 14th, 2011

When the economy heads south, anything people perceive as a luxury is usually the first thing to go, and that can include photography, whether it's the annual family portrait, the photography budget for the wedding, or updating headshots for a business.

But NYI grad Tony Martin remains undaunted, and continues running his business, finding that shooting for stock agencies is still a good way of finding work.

Perhaps more importantly, Tony does two things that any photographer can benefit from: he keeps his enthusiasm keyed up, and he always takes his camera with him, whether he's intending to go out and shoot or not.

“Lately I am selling images I never intended to take,” he said. “You have to keep the fire burning twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.”

Bread photo by NYIP Grad Tony Martin Bird photo by NYIP Grad Tony Martin

Tony finds these days that it's his passion for the work that is keeping him afloat, and keeping him optimistic. “I have returned to the original state of passion,” he said, illustrating how the passion for the work itself is what will bring success on the business side.

“Even though there is significant down-time these days, I'm never without a camera at arm's length,” he said. “The opportunities to shoot stock are endless if you're looking for them. Colorful landscapes this time of year, wildlife, studio work such as portraits and products, events, weddings, outing—you just have to stay alert, ready and motivated,” he said.

“If you don't have the motivating force of passion about photography, the business aspect will ruin you,” he said. “I was passionate about community efforts, environmental issues and foundations, and I received my first exposure and support through contributing images to them.”

Tony is now cultivating and navigating those projects, “then following them to the events, publishing opportunities, and corporate sponsors,” he said. “You develop relationships and mutual concerns, and out of that comes networking. You have to stay connected, visible in community efforts, and persistent.”

Part of that persistence for Tony is by being active online—“every minute that I'm not editing and/or processing a shoot and sending samples around.” He points out that the way this profile came about was thanks to his writing an email to NYI about what he's working on.

Man playing a guitar by NYIP Grad Tony Martin Fire dancer by NYIP Student Grad Tony Martin

Tony has posted a Facebook profile with a daily photo display titled “A Day In The Life,” which has between ten a forty images along with commentary. “I get an amazing amount of feedback on this, and I have regular visitors who stop in every day to see what I've posted. This has been very positive and motivational, not to mention great exposure.”

Because his work has been used by stock photo houses, Tony also keeps on top of violations of usage agreements, finding that this sometimes leads to a payment, and sometimes to additional work.

Tony's exuberant enthusiasm isn't new to him; he got his start in photography when he was a teen surfer, and took a camera with waterproof housing out on his surfboard, then showed the photos to his friends, who all wanted shots of themselves. He then peddled his surfing shots to surf shops, and that led him to specializing in sports photography.

In short, he says: “If it moved, I shot it.”

photo by NYIP Grad Tony Martin photo by NYIP Grad Tony Martin

And that specialization has really paid off. He spent a day following golf great Tiger Woods during a promotional event. He also covered a Kevin Costner concert, and took the shots that are on the Untold Truths cd jacket. “I got to spend time with him on stage and on the golf course that weekend for a Pro/Am charity event. I had full access.”

Tony's own favorite photo of his is the one he's most recognized for, because of the large display in the Palm Beach International Airport, titled “Dawn Patrol,” a coastal sunrise shot the morning of Hurricane Dennis. The inspiration for that shot was The Scripps Pier by Ansel Adams, which remains one his favorite photos by another photographer.

We hope Tony keeps up his vigorous love of photography, inspiring us all to follow our passions.


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