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Details from the Witness: The Photography of Samuel Martin

Words & Photos by Samuel Martin 

Any time spent on the Hyperlite Mountain Gear blog or website will quickly reveal that we have some very talented photographers from all over the globe in our family. There are a million ways to document a place or people and a moment in time, but a great photographer captures it all while telling you a little bit about themselves, too. We’re pleased to introduce you to Samuel Martin. Read on to find out how Samuel approaches his craft and gain a few skill-building tips and nuggets of wisdom in the process.


Name: Samuel Martin

Residence: North Carolina

Years Shooting: 7

Favorite Location(s) to Shoot: Wind River Range, Wyoming

Camera Setup: Sony a7R & a7iii. Sigma 50 1.4 lens and Sony 24-70 2.8 G on the cameras. For fun, I like to shoot on a Leica Q. 

What got you into photography, and what keeps you at it?

My journey into photography began when I bought the iPhone 5 while in high school. It was the first camera I owned, and I used it to document the backpacking trips I was going on with friends close to home. Soon after, I picked up my grandfather's Canon AE-1 film camera and began using that - shooting as much as I could and learning the basics of light metering and camera controls. I credit a lot of my success and work today to the fact that I was purely shooting for myself and my own gratification when I began photography. I didn't work with any brands until years later and truly created work I wanted to create.

I love photography today for the same reasons I did then. It's an incredible tool to capture the here and now: friends, family, dinners on the back lawn, and those summer nights that you want to remember. You never know who will be looking at your photos 100 years from now. I want to show them what it was like to live here.

Out in the wild, what are the elements in a setting that will stop you in your tracks and make you grab your camera? 

It's hard to put a finger on what exactly it is about a scene that makes me stop and take a photo. Light has a lot to do with it, but beyond that, it's an intangible feeling of composition and story.

What elements will you wait or hunt for? Where and why?

I will wait for the light in any given situation. Light is everything to my photography, and it changes so much from hour to hour. Some situations don't allow for you to wait for light to change, but if there is time and opportunity, I rarely regret waiting.

If you couldn't use words to describe what kind of photographer you are–you could only share one of your photos–does one come to mind? Why? Where was it taken? Describe the scenario. 

I love capturing people in their elements. Often, I'm drawn to stories that don't ask for attention, to people who wouldn't normally consider their work or craft important or beautiful enough to warrant documenting it. This image is of Jen Roeser, a 2nd generation packer in the Sierra Nevada mountains, leading a pack train up McGee Creek into the High Sierra. It's a privilege to step into someone's life for a short period of time and capture how they live and work in this world. 

You can pass five short tips on to aspiring shooters. Go. 

- Always have your camera with you - that's rule number one. As with any discipline, the more you practice, the better you become.

- I'm grateful that when I became interested in photography, I didn't try to make it a source of income or side hustle immediately. I shot for myself and only myself for the first few years and developed an eye for what I wanted to make and not what someone else wanted to be made. It can be tempting to turn a hobby into a side hustle but don't be afraid to keep it just a hobby.

- There is an art and skill to placing yourself into the path of interesting and unique situations - if you can master that skill, your work will stand out. Experience and intuition are key here - both skills grow with time and practice.

- Treat your camera as a tool. It's easy to be over-protective of your expensive camera equipment and end up missing a unique photo because the gear was buried or wrapped up to protect it from the elements. I treat my camera gear well, but my camera is a tool at the end of the day, and it needs to be accessible even in the worst conditions. On this note – insuring your camera gear is highly recommended.

- Take advantage of the modern world and the multitude of tutorials and online resources surrounding camera equipment and editing software. If you don't know how to take a certain style of photo or edit in Lightroom you are five clicks away from learning that skill. 

Where can we see more of your work?

My website: spmartin.com

And on Instagram: @spmartin_

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