About This Site

Welcome to my website, I very much hope you enjoy spending some time here and hope you return again. I initially developed this site in January 2019 to host photos taken at the many sporting events that I covered myself. It has developed quite a bit since and I've added many new galleries, a Shows page and a recent Film page. There are lots of recent photos, some old favourites and many show and event photos from my archives. I'll continue to add more photos from when I'm out and about as this site grows.

I still have my original site martinandjohnphotography.co.uk, which at present includes a shop with greetings cards and from late August, my new Northumberland calendar.

About ME

My name is Martin Ellis and I live on Tyneside, in a small village on the outskirts of Newcastle and Gateshead. It’s almost in the countryside, with lots of nice walks, cycle paths and all the amenities of a city close by. Yet within an hour or so, I can be lacing my boots up and heading out into The Cheviots. Then there’s the North Pennines and the Durham Dales, or the wonderful North East Coast.

I can’t say I’m a native as my beginnings were on an RAF base in Norfolk and besides, all my family are Welsh. Yet I moved here when I was eleven, so I'm almost from the North East, but not quite. I may have moved away occasionally because of college or work, but have always returned. I still rather like it here, it’s a bit special.

It was whilst I was away at Art College that I discovered clay. Strictly speaking, that was initially on my foundation course at Sunderland, but that felt like away back then. I found I could throw pots on the wheel and so started my working life as a Studio Potter, as well as teaching pottery night classes.

I began working in other potteries, production throwing, product design and mouldmaking. As my skills and technical knowledge increased, I made a gradual move into industry. Primarily tableware and sanitaryware as a production manager and latterly, a factory manager and director.

In comparison, I'm fairly new to photography. There's more than a bit about that in the next section, but before heading there I'll come to Martin And John and a question I'm sometimes asked, namely, who's John?  It's one of my middle names, the other is Andrew and they both come from my grandfathers. Martin And John itself comes from my youth, mostly misspent playing pool, initials chalked on blackboards waiting for a game and the nicknames that came from winning or losing tournaments.

About Photography

On a school trip, I distinctly remember looking into the viewfinder of a Kodak Box Brownie (I still have it), not really knowing what I was doing. My first encounter with a camera and not the most auspicious of starts. So I returned to my drawing, nothing could really compete, I was always happy with pencil and paper.

It was drawing that took me onto Art College, where I was taught how to use a camera, develop film and print in the darkroom. Yet it was only so we could record our proper work, not something to be creative with. Which is all I ever used a camera for, taking slides of my ceramics and maybe the occasional holiday snap.

So it was a bit of a surprise to find myself thinking it might be nice to start taking photographs whilst out hiking, to document my journeys and perhaps do some drawing from them. So I purchased an entry level Nikon D40 with a couple of lenses, looked down the viewfinder and realised, I still didn't really know what I was doing.

This time something seemed to click (please excuse the pun) and I persevered. It was all a bit of a struggle and frustrating to begin with and often still is. However, I'd been here before, there are many similarities with learning to throw pots on the wheel or indeed, anything new. The only difference is that for my throwing I got a job at Shire Pottery, where I met met Ivar Mackay. Having thrown over a quarter of a million pots, Ivar was a master potter by any definition. Working beside and being able to watch someone with that level of skill and ease of making proved very beneficial. So I know with my photography that there’s always more and I need to keep learning and challenging myself, especially when it's just me. 

It is from my many wanders amongst the landscape that my photographs come and I now appear to go out hiking just to take photographs. I love The Cheviots and Upper Coquetdale in particular, the landscape here can seem vast and bleak, utterly beautiful. One taken here won The Sill photography competition in conjunction with Northumberland National Park. I feel I can lose myself here, immerse myself in the ancient landscape, sometimes literally when I sink into peat bog.

During the summer, I make my way down into the valleys and take photographs at the many events and shows, there's now an archive. I very much enjoy the community aspect of these shows, as farms and villages in Northumberland are quite remote, there is a reliance that is quite apparent. I decided to have a stand and exhibit my photographs, maybe sell a few prints. I started at Harbottle Show in 2014, I've exhibited at many more since. It’s been a good and enjoyable way of meeting the farmers, shepherds, runners and other hikers that I’ve occasionally encountered in the hills, with their family and friends. This year due to COVID-19, all shows have unfortunately been cancelled, the right decision and I'm very much looking forward to next year.

For those who like to know, I moved on from my Nikon D40 to a D300s (still used as a backup camera). I now use a D800, a recently acquired D810 and a battery grip for events. My lenses have improved a bit too, I now have a 24-70 f2.8, a 70-200 f2.8. I also have a 24-120 f4 and a 50 f1.4 prime that are often used as well as a Sigma 150-500 that makes an occasional appearance. 

A recent development saw the purchase of a Nikon F100 35mm SLR and a medium format Mamiya 7 with  50mm, 80mm and 150mm lenses. I felt I needed slow down a touch, improve my technique in certain areas and I couldn't really do that with the ease of digital. Working with film is a new challenge, well I did say it's something that I needed to do and it's one I'm looking forward to.  

  • Snowy Spring Lambs
  • Batailshiel Haugh
  • Glendale Show
  • Marloes
  • Towards Bamburgh
  • Powburn Show
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