Martin O’Neill is from Manchester, England, and has been a professional photographer since 1978. He spent the first four years of his career as a staff photographer on local weekly newspapers in Manchester and Cheshire. He left the newspapers after they closed several titles in 1982. He has been self-employed ever since, working first as a freelance photographer with close ties to the Manchester Evening News, and eventually amassing a long list of clients including OK! Magazine, The National Lottery, The Mail on Sunday, IBM and The Royal Mail. Assignments have taken him as far afield as The United States, Sri Lanka and Libya.
Since 2000 Martin specialized in wedding photography and has shot weddings across the UK. He also has had a number of solo exhibitions and self-published two books of his reportage and documentary photographs, entitled ‘Don’t Miss This’ and ‘Don’t Miss That’.
Martin's interest in music photography goes back to 1979, when a series of small gigs was held at a youth club in a place called Bowdon Vale, ten miles south of Manchester. Among the local talent appearing on those cold winter Wednesdays were The Freshies, Fast Cars, V2 and Joy Division. Martin took it upon himself to shoot these bands, convinced that his photographs would help propel them to stardom.
Martin’s shots of Joy Division band remained unseen until 2005, when he wanted to mark the 25th anniversary of the death of the group’s lead singer, Ian Curtis. He staged a small exhibition of the shots in a library in Hale, the closest useable venue he could find to the site of the old youth club, and later his photographs were exhibited at a pub near Manchester University for the next two years.
In the meantime Martin had been shooting other bands, back in the days when crowd barriers didn’t exist and he could change film by putting his camera down on the stage by the singer’s feet. Eventually that access diminished, and he became a "normal" gig-goer once more.