Tell us a little about yourself and your work.

I live in a small town called Sittingbourne and work as a freelance photographer. What I’m interested in photographically are people’s passions, I like to meet people who enjoy what they do for one reason or another, I think I feed off their interests and it satisfies my need to learn.

What drew you to mini golf as a subject matter?

What drew me to the mini golfers and mini golf in general was the idea of doing something because you simply love doing it. I photographed mini golf with the intention of changing peoples ideas of what is ‘normal’. Peoples initial reaction to the project is to laugh, what I want the viewer to ask themselves is ‘why?’

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Tell us your favourite story from the process of meeting and photographing strangers.

I wouldn’t say it was my favourite but it is the encounter that has affected me the most. I photographed an incredible human being who was a prisoner of war during World War II, the stories of fear, death and love that I was fortunate enough to experience changed my outlook on life.

Which photographers influence you visually?

I’m looking at a lot of Larry Sultan’s work at the moment and recently discovered Jo Ann Walters work which I’m really enjoying.

What do you like about photographing people?

The excuse to meet someone new, the initial approach still scares me but more often that not the stories and friendships made from the encounters are worth it.

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How did your photographic journey start? What led you to pursue documentary photography?

With some savings I had from my job at McDonalds I bought my first camera more as a cool item to own rather than a tool, I taught myself most of the basics but had a lot of help from two of my friends who were photographers. After failing most my A-Levels the idea of being left behind really kicked in so I applied for a foundation course, I started to discover that I could say something with my photography. Walker Evans really struck a chord with me at the beginning after writing an essay on his work, I think thats the first time I felt like shooting in a similar style.

Do you feel that growing up in a small town affected your approach to photography?

Not particularly. Sittingbourne can be a very negative place, it was only when I left that I started to really feel capable of creating anything.

Do you feel it is important to be within a creative environment?

I do feel it’s important to have the facility for creative criticism but some times you can find yourself in a bubble and lose sight of the bigger picture, especially whilst at university.

What is your advice to photography graduates?

Persistence is definitely a trait worth having.

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See more of Simon’s work at www.simon-martin.org