Why Films, Comics, and the Characters Who Inhabit Them Fuel Cade Martin's Photography

“If you never move beyond your comfort zone and never scratch that itch, you will never find the beauty that lies in the unfamiliar.”

-Cade Martin

A person’s background; their upbringing, beliefs, and worldview contribute to who they are and the work that they create. With that in mind, we sat down with Cade Martin to find out more about him. We wanted to know what feeds his imagination. Here is what he had to say.


The only child of a university art professor and a freethinker mother, I grew up surrounded by shapes and images. My love of the arts grew out of summers filled with trips to galleries, museums, and art studios. At home, I often found myself around the dinner table surrounded by an eclectic cast of characters — sculptors, writers, painters, creatives. They paraded through my childhood, shaping my art foundation as well as forming an understanding of a community and an appreciation for the candid beauty found in people from all walks of life.

I’m an only child, and like a lot of only children, I grew up surrounded by adults and invented my own worlds in my head. I’ve always been a daydreamer and my primary school years were often filled with my mind wandering to what I’d found and expanded upon in movies and comic books. I’ve been reading comics since I was a little boy and they are a big part of who I am. Tintin is my favorite fictional character of all time, and Tintin adventures are what I always wanted to have.

Films and comics have taken me everywhere, and the lack of boundaries in both has been an ongoing inspiration. They continue to be some of the greatest and most important influences in my life as well as my image making. I strive for each image I create to evoke the feeling of a frame out of a filmstrip, a narrative living beyond any one moment.

To capture these moments, I always challenge myself and work with the best team possible – every image should be portfolio worthy. And while I pride myself on photographing as much as possible in-camera, post-production is also a time for experimentation – for tweaking, testing, maybe introducing something new and beautifying. It is this process that, I believe, elevates the imagery, and adds magic all its own.

But I also believe that man cannot live by that magic alone, that one must continue to seek out surprise and delight where it is- and that spontaneity is what brings that adventure to life. So often my personal projects are realized this way, sparked by something small, and just as often I take that idea – seizing an opportunity – and run with it on a moment’s notice.


My thirst for capturing adventures really took hold while hopping trains in India for National Geographic and taught me to be comfortable with the unknown. As a result – I have learned to get by with less, so that when the inspiration hits, I’m mobile, and always ready.

Through it all, the artists and characters from my childhood continue to be top of mind, my constant companions that serve as a reminder that if you never move beyond your comfort zone and never scratch that itch, you will never find the beauty that lies in the unfamiliar. I have learned to value that surprise truly, and it’s my photography that takes me there.

Currently, and taking a cue from my parents before me, I believe it is more important than ever to foster community. And the best way I know to do that is to get out, to invite people to come together and to create a sense of belonging. Whether it’s hosting a monthly yoga class in my studio, having inspirational speakers, time spent talking with the brand innovators of tomorrow at the university I attended, or mentoring those that might be interested in photography – I want my work to go beyond the images I create and I want to be a part of a creative community that inspires people to support and nurture one another.

Going forward, I see myself continuing to seek out new opportunities – whether it’s creating a pop-up studio or fusing motion with print.  I intend to tell the stories of the characters I will meet along the way, real or imagined – the result being the perfect combination of those comic books and movie influences of my youth.

Follow Cade on Instagram to see more imagery created from chasing characters and stories, and finding beauty in the unfamiliar.