I hope you have all been enjoying a little sneak peek into what goes on at a luxury loungewear photoshoot, wasn’t the video of little Miss Frieda Rose sweet! Today we are having a chat with the photographer behind our AW15 campaign to see how he approaches his work and what makes him tick. Mat sat down to answer a few questions for us and a transcription of his interview can be seen below.
- What is your name and how would you describe your job title?Mat Keller, Photographer, Film Maker and a bit of a jack-of-all-trades.
- Where are you based?
- How long have you been running your business?About 6 years now
- How did you get from an aspiring photographer to actually do it full time as a career?My Dad, whilst not a prolific photographer, was a master of the vernacular so he would always have his camera with him on every trip we’d go on growing up, and over time he showed me how to use it. I brought my first camera and started taking pictures in my teens and studied photography at school and then college. I’ve continued to take pictures ever since. It wasn’t until about 2009 that I realised that I wanted to try and make a career out of it, and actually I’m still trying to do that!
- What type of technology/camera/softwear do you use so that you can concentrate on doing what you do best – capturing that image?The real breakthrough for me was getting hold of a Canon 5D MKII camera with a fixed portrait lens. It totally changed the way I took photos and the quality was way ahead of any of the other digital cameras I’d tried. I trained to use film, hand-rolling strips of cellulous into canisters ready to shoot, and back off into processing tubs, through to hand developing prints in a darkroom. Until the 5D none of the digitals had got anywhere near the colour and sharpness I could get with a film camera.After that I discovered Adobe Lightroom and that allowed me to get the range of post-processing I needed. Not having to think about this level of quality leaves me to be able to get in front of something and shoot it. If anything goes wrong then it’s entirely my fault and not the technology
- Which is your favourite – Film? Or Digital?I still have a soft spot for film, and use vintage cameras for some of my personal stuff, but there is no way I could run a business without using digital, it takes some of the stress factor out of the process, leaving me to just take pictures.
- What inspires your photography projects?I’m a cultural magpie, I take inspiration from everything I see: films, other photographers work, great architecture or design even music!
- How do you get the person or object/thing in front of your lens to translate in your images just the way you want it?In terms of shooting people rather than objects, I find my greatest asset is the ability to put the subject at ease and make things fun. If the person is relaxed and can gain some confidence in themselves then their true personality or portrayal shines through.
- Which photographers inspire you and have they influenced your career or thought process in taking images in any way?I’m a big fan of documenters, photographers like Dorothea Lange or Robert Capa who manage to capture something I their shots and keep it for all to see. I could never do that kind of work, putting myself into volatile or dangerous situations just to document something, but their ability to capture a moment inspires me to try and get that same honestly out of my subjects. In terms of composition, you can get better than the classic fashion photographers like Horst P. Horst or George Hoyningen-Huene, and I’ve always loved the quirkiness of Angus McBean.
- What are you trying to say with your photographs and how do you actually get your photographs to say that to your audience?I’m don’t really ever try and convey a message with my images, but I do try and capture something real and honest as much as I can, even in made-up, fantasy style shoots. I don’t use any tricks like HRD, or heavy post-processing and the only things I will ever remove are things that shouldn’t be there (in the case of people, this is basically just spots and stray hairs!).
- What motivates you to keep taking images?I love working with other people to get great images, so it’s the clients and the subjects that keep me interested. I get a real buzz when I’m shooting something and I know it’s going to look great, without even seeing the finished shot.
- Any advice for budding young photographers out there?Keep taking pictures, shoot anything and everything, find your style and find what style of shooting makes you the happiest. Don’t rely on technology to do the fixing, try and get it right in the camera and then any enhancements you make are your own. Personally I’ve started to take a leaf out of Horst book: he would spend a very long time getting everything looking right, lighting, environment and subject, then once happy, take a single image.
- Now onto the fashiony part, describe your style.I’m heavily influenced by the pioneers of photography, when you look at the greats all they had was a simple camera and themselves. I try and use that sense of simplicity and let the situation itself create a narrative, to be able to tell a story either through a single image or a series of images. I like to make the viewer think: “Wow! I want to know more about this”.
- Who inspires you style wise (past or present)?In terms of my personal dress sense I basically want to go back in time and steal all of Jimmy Stewarts clothes. Howard Hughes also had some sweet threads.
- What is your go to loungewear piece or item of clothing when you are relaxing at home? (we are a lounge wear company after all!)Can’t beat a pair of proper pyjamas!
- What’s next? Any exciting projects or events that you are planning?I’m working with a number of really great retro and reproduction clothing brands so some great opportunities there, plus I’m the chief fashion photographer (and Editor-in-chief) of In Retrospect Magazine (check out the next issues amazing Film Noir shoot!)
- Finally give us all your website and social media links so we can all find you!My main website is www.mathewkeller.com, but you can also see my Southern Retro portrait project at www.southernretro.com. You can find me on Social media at: facebook.com/MathewKellerInc, twitter.com/matkeller and instagram.com/southernretro/