Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln Assassination

The Smithsonian is an American treasure, full of American treasures. Whether you’ve been there or not, the name Smithsonian points to our collective national history. Within the walls live stories in 3D, a narrative made more whole, more revealing and more resonant by objects preserved. Simply, it is the stuff of moments and eras, and it is really cool.
I’m extraordinarily fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Smithsonian on a variety of projects …and when I say variety I mean from Judy Garland’s ruby slippers to C3PO to James’ Brown Hammond Organ. Each project with them is a bit like the best day in History class.
On top of all the objects I’m lucky enough to get close to – my projects with the Smithsonian are always unique from a photography standpoint. Because of the sacred/fragile/protected nature of so many artifacts in the Museums, it’s often a dance with the curators in regards to approach. Production solutions range from (but are not limited to) photographing through glass the objects on display, working after hours and under limited time constraints that our created light can be shining on an object. And there is always the challenge of hopefully capturing the beauty or weight of objects, that have been seen so many times, in a way that invites another look.
While I can’t pick a favorite shoot for Smithsonian, photographing the Blood Relics from the Lincoln Assassination sticks with me. Each of the 13 items I photographed alone represents an aspect of that watershed American moment – panic, politics, revenge, compassion and loss. But to see them woven into the full story through the collector’s lens of James L. Swanson in his piece for Smithsonian Magazine, moves them beyond the simply historical. Written for the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s 1865 assassination, you feel his reverence for these artifacts as well as a bigger call to collectively recall.


Tucker ’48


Preston Tucker and his car of the future have quite a story.

The short of it, he was a legendary innovator, and a legendarily bad businessman. But the car? It’s beautiful.

Read the full article here.

Thanks to Smithsonian Photo Editor, and frequent collaborator, Jeff Campagna.


Smithsonian Magazine: Bigfoot

Yes, he’s real!

Legends like Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and the Bermuda Triangle were as much of an influence to me growing up as the Lone Ranger, Zorro and the Two-Gun Kid.

Smithsonian Magazine Associate photo editor Donny Bajohr reached out to see if I was interested in taking on an assignment photographing Bigfoot.

THE Bigfoot?! Count me in.

I always love working with the Smithsonian, and they thought it would be cool to create a miniature set in the vein of the famous grainy “video footage” from the Patterson–Gimlin film.

Bigfoot will be September’s “American Icon” featured in the Prologue section of Smithsonian Magazine.


James Brown and the Hammond Organ

James Brown and the Hammond Organ

What is it about the Hammond Organ that had such a profound hold on the Godfather of Soul?

“The Hammond electrified faith, and it electrified the faithful, too, because it had a way of projecting its fervor out onto the streets of America.  People took the crazy feelings the Hammond unlocked and blasted them past the church into the rec room, the jazz club, the honky-tonk. A whole bunch of new feelings, mixing sacred spaces and public places.” – RJ Smith, Smithsonian Magazine, April 2018

How could I say it better?

I am always awed by the history and stories that radiate from the objects at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and being able to take this image to accompany RJ Smith’s  fascinating piece about the Hammond Organ and James Brown was as great as you’d imagine.

Photographed for Smithsonian magazine


Geeking Out On the Job: Face to Face with C-3PO

Geeking Out On the Job: Face to Face with C-3PO

Working once again with Smithsonian Magazine, I was charged with photographing C-3PO for a section of the magazine called “National Treasure” at the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.

While we couldn’t touch him, I could see and feel the craft that went into bringing his character to life on the screen. Focusing in on the droid’s hinges, lines and luster – the physical realness of this character – I did my best to channel the cinematic origin, to capture a movie still not a product shot. Thank you, as always, to Jeff Campagna for the opportunities to photograph these pieces of history, to Smithsonian Magazine for being a true giant in chronicling the objects of our collective history and culture, and to LucasFilm and Disney for your imaginations.




Excited and humbled to see this series of images created for Starbucks on the cover and as the chapter dividers in the recent edition of Workbook. 

Seeing these images used again also served as a nice reminder to revisit this special project – and the people – Daniele Monti, Jodi Morrison and Kristy Cameron to name check a few members of this dream team – it was one I didn’t want to end, and to have these images find a new audience through Workbook is an honor, so thank you to the entire team at Workbook for selecting this work.

The project took place a couple of years ago and the images were used exclusively for the Tazo Tea launch campaign. Everyone was just as excited as I was to approach these with a cinematic influence and movie lighting to help achieve what Starbucks Creative Director, Daniele Monti, described as “capturing the magic and whimsy of the new Tazo brand—something in between a modern Alice in Wonderland and an iconography that pulls from different eras, places and cultures.” The resources and enthusiasm to pull these images off on-location and all in-camera – not in post-production – made for a truly special campaign.

As a photographer whose overall body of work ranges widely – from the realistic to the fantastic, this project allowed me to really dive into my cinematic influences, and enabled me to both showcase and push my aesthetic. I loved every minute of it and I am indebted to the creative team at Starbucks for entrusting me to create these worlds, to the retouchers at Sugar Digital and to producer Kim Comeaux for going above and beyond to support every idea that I had.

The Workbook’s back story here:  https://www.workbook.com/blog/spring-2017-photography-cover-artist-cade-martin


Smithsonian Magazine: 101 Objects

Smithsonian Magazine: 101 Objects

With so much going on in the world today, and news cycles measured in hours and even minutes, it’s hard to keep up. Things can feel frantic and somewhat impermanent. It’s easy to speculate about the future and get tied up in what’s next. And as I did just that recently, I paused to look back, to recall a prior project that I did with Jeff Campagna from Smithsonian Magazine.  To capture the 101 most influential objects in America history, they would hire 7 photographers from around the world and divide up the objects between them. The extent of the direction from Jeff was simply to photograph them. I could do whatever I wanted, and was I interested? Yes, count me in.

These preserved symbols of our collective history have weight and permanence and a lasting legacy. I relished the opportunity to challenge myself to make unique images of these objects that have been photographed so many times. For my part I saw each one of them being very cinematic, creating a look and feel that would add drama and interest to these still – but iconic -objects, honoring their tales to tell. 


Lone Ranger

Clayton Moore wore this black mask at the star of The Lone Ranger (ABC, 1949-57 but I’m sure you knew that,) a Western TV series about a Texas Ranger who disguises his identity to fight crime on the frontier.  

What I love about this particular project is everything.

It’s not hyperbole to say photographing the Lone Ranger’s mask for The Smithsonian was one of the best days of my life. I talk about how legends, characters, superheroes and comic book characters shaped me, shaped my perspective. But something about this mask reminded me of that foundation so viscerally. I felt just as I would have felt if 10-year old me was behind that camera.

Hi-yo Silver, away!