Picture perfect with Faversham’s Martin Apps

Kent based photographer Martin Apps has brought to life some of the most exciting events in the country through his talented camera work.

We had the pleasure of going behind the lens to delve more into his artistic career…

 

Can you give readers an insight into your background and your earliest interactions with a camera?

I started at Countrywide Photographic, an Industrial and Commercial studio, straight from school (1992) at 16 years old, where I did a three-year apprenticeship. Back then we had a large laboratory where we processed and printed our own work for clients. I was employed there for 8 years before the growth in digital technology made me redundant. Following that I spent a couple of years at Jessops, selling digital cameras and learning about the new technology. Whilst working at the Maidstone store, where we had the Kent Messenger Group picture desk as a customer, I would pester them to give me freelance work, which eventually paid off. I ended up working for them for a total of 16 years, 5 of them as a staff photographer. During that time my old boss was looking to retire and offered to sell me Countrywide Photographic, which my partner (now wife) and I bought and ran alongside my press work until I quit the papers 7 years ago to focus my attention on our business.

I first started taking pictures when I was probably about 12 or 13 years old. My parents would often take me to motorsport events around Kent (Brands Hatch & Lydden) where I would take a few pics on the family camera, a Pentax K100.

 

If you could pick three top moments from your career what would they be and why?

Well, this is a very hard question, I have had so many memorable moments during my career for many different reasons. The job gives you such great access to people and events that people can’t generally get, but here goes.

My first image published in a national newspaper. I was asked to be part of a team of photographers for The Kennel Club at Crufts. We were the official photographers and it was our job, over the 4 days, to capture images for the media to promote the show. The experience of working with 2 veteran national newspaper photographers and hearing their stories was great. On the last day one of my images of a girl sat with her weimaraner was used large, in The Telegraph. It was shortly after my friend and mentor Ian Gambrill had passed away after a short battle with cancer and a moment I wish I had been able to share him after he believed in me all those years ago.

My first celebrity. It was when Gordon Ramsay was doing his Kitchen Nightmare show at The Sandgate Hotel, Sandgate. It was very early in my freelancing career with the Kent Messenger and the editor had given me a huge wish list of images required and I wanted to impress. After talking with the producer it became clear that Gordon was unlikely to allow me to capture all of these. So thinking quickly I had to prioritise my shots, even though Gordon was a celebrity chef, this was a local paper and the local people were the celebrities, so the owners with Gordon would be first image and I will see what I can get after that. Gordon arrived, was very polite, I told him that I wanted him with the owners out the front of the hotel first. I took 3 frames (pictures), the first was perfect, the second Gordon had started a walk, the 3rd he was almost out of the frame and that was it, gone, never to be seen again!

Having the privilege to make digital copies of a private collection of masterpieces for publicity before they went on loan to an international gallery. The high resolution images were used in the brochures and 20ft banners outside the gallery. I am lucky to have access to these paintings, viewing them up close in a room all to myself feels like a real privilege. And that’s what I love about this job, I sometimes get to see things that not everyone can.

 

What plans do Countrywide Photographic have for 2023 and do you have any 5-10-year long term goals you would like to achieve?

This may sound bad but I have never really been a businessman with a plan. I have a job that I love and it doesn’t feel like work. My aim has always been to keep my clients happy and produce images that fulfil the brief they give me. I am always looking to be busier and grow as a company, which I have found last year, having to use a second photographer to meet client demands. For this year I am looking to improve my video skills. I am finding that clients are asking for more video to use on their social media feeds. It’s skill that I don’t totally understand yet so the more I can do, the more I can learn.

 

You are extremely talented in all you do but do you have a preference of what you like photographing?

I love doing the magazine features, it can be very varied, like my paper days, one day photographing a wine maker, then next a stroke speech therapy group in a health centre. It’s the people I enjoy meeting and getting an insight into their lives. You have to get them to trust you and know a bit about them to provide the editor/client with images that tells their story. My favourite are the farming clients I have, especially working with cows. They are funny animals, very nosey. You can be in the middle of a field photographing a farmer when you start getting surrounded by these huge, strong animals licking the camera bag on your back or nudging you with their heads and nearly knocking you over.

 

You photograph all over Kent but do you perhaps have any favourite towns, villages in the county that you prefer most?

Well, there are lots of beautiful villages across Kent, but my heart will always be with Wye. I grew up there, before moving away at 18. It was the perfect place for kids to grow, lots of fields and woods to play in, a close knit community that would always look out for you (tell your mum if you were naughty). My parents still live there so I am always back and it hasn’t changed much, which is lovely.

 

To see Martin App’s stunning work, go online and visit www.countrywidephotographic.co.uk.

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