Wildlife photographer Martin Bailey needs little to no introduction. Chances are you have come across his weekly podcast and blog at some point.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m British born, and raised, but I moved to Japan at the age of 24, and am now a Japanese citizen, having lived here most of the last 20 years. I now live in West Tokyo, and make my living as a Nature and WIldlife, as well as portrait photographer.
What made you get into photography?
I was influenced initially by early exposure to a Polaroid that my Dad owned for a while, and a friend’s Dad who had an old Zenit camera. He sometimes let me trip the shutter, and I remember thinking how cool the equipment all looked. I started to get into photography as I took a small, pretty much disposable plastic 35mm camera with a fixed lens, into the mountains and hills of Derbyshire, in England, a few hours north of where I lived in England. Then photography really started to get a hold of me after I moved to Japan in 1991, but then really became a passion when I bought my first Digital SLR camera, the Canon EOS D30 back in 2002.
How did you get started?
As I said above, there were some early influences, but really, photography became a real passion for me after I moved to Japan, and was enveloped in a totally different culture to what I’d known being born and raised in the Midlands, in England. I feel that my photography was reborn when Digital SLR cameras started to be released though. I was always a stickler for getting it right in the camera, having shot FujiChrome Slide film for 10 years, and I had no intention of getting sloppy just because it was digital, but the instant feedback of digital really helped to see what we were getting right there as I made the images, which can certainly help us to tweak composition and exposure in field, smoothing out that learning curve so much more than before.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
I’m most well known for my Nature and Wildlife photography, and that is certainly my passion. As I build my revenue streams now that I am totally reliant on photography to make my living, I am doing more and more portrait work, which I love doing as well as my Nature work.
What gear are you using?
I’ve been a Canon user since my film days, and now have way too much invested in Canon glass to change that, but I think that both Canon and Nikon as well as some other manufacturers make excellent gear now. The most important thing is being comfortable with your gear, not who makes it.
Whats your favourite lens and why?
It has to be the Canon 300mm F2.8 IS L lens. The reason being that despite this lens being a prime lens, it’s also so very versatile. I can use it to shoot “Flowerscapes” which are my small segments of flowers in the landscape. I can also use it to isolate a segment of the landscape, which is something that I sometimes do. Hell, I’ve shot traditional looking landscape shots at 600mm! I also shoot wildlife with the 300mm F2.8 and it also works incredibly well with the 1.4X Extender, and even the 2X Extender, giving you a useable 420mm and 600mm without much degradation in image quality.
How are you marketing yourself?
My main marketing tool has been my Photography Podcast, which I started in September 2005. In addition to that though I have a blog and forum, which are quite popular, but these are both extensions of the Podcast.
I have also spent a lot of time building my brand. My kneeling man logo is now very recognizable as an MBP (Martin Bailey Photography) symbol, and I strive to make everything that I do top quality. People recognize this, and this helps me to get paid for a quality product or service.
Also, if you provide a quality service, people talk about it, and word of mouth is helping me to fill my photography workshops, and sell my fine art prints.
Whats your favourite photo you have taken?
I believe that your most recent work should always be your best. It’s important to not allow the emotion of the shoot affect your decision, so I always ensure that a few weeks pass before making a selection, but I am very happy with this recent study of a Red-Crowned Crane. I’m happy with this because it accurately depicts the beauty of the form of these most majestic avians.
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
Do not sell yourself short. If you do not value your work, no one else will. The moment you do something for nothing (not necessarily financial gain, but there must be something of benefit for you) you put yourself on a seriously steep slippery slope, and it will be very difficult to climb.