August 13, 2021
The Photographer Interviews: Michelle Mattern
Initially, I was a darkroom enthusiast. I learned to print photos first and was fascinated by the science and art of it all. When I ran out of other people's film to print, I got a camera so I could always have film to print.
That was a long time ago now, but the fascination of seeing the end product has never left me. With digital imaging, the process has just gotten faster.
I love Instagram for inspiration. I am always amazed at what I see on that app. It's incredible how so many people can see the same scene in front of them, and still see it differently than everyone else.
I also find travel very inspiring. Going to new places that are not on the tourist path always gets my creative juices flowing.
For about 25 years, I was using all Nikon gear. I went through 7 different camera bodies.
But about a year ago, I sold it all and switched to Fuji X-Series cameras. I love the continuous updates and upgrades that Fujifilm provides for their cameras -- always improving them. And the considerable difference in total weight I am carrying around is a nice bonus.
I'm in the middle of a portrait project, concentrating on people in small communities in China and SE Asia.
This is interesting, because as I previously stated, printing photos was my first love, and photography was just the resource required. But as digital took over, printing became less common because of screen viewing.
Back in the film days, almost every image was printed. Now, only the best are printed.
These days, I make large prints and custom books for clients. I still feel excited when seeing an image printed out, no matter how it's made.
The biggest challenge for me is standing out in a crowd. It's too easy to keep your head down, concentrating on work you're passionate about, and still make the time to market yourself in a crowded field. Passion projects are fulfilling, but you still need to pay the bills.
Don't get too caught up on gear. Sure, gear matters, you need the basic supplies. Just make sure you become an expert on what you use, and don't think new equipment will be the answer to unrefined skills. And learn from the masters, but find your own vision, and don't apologize for what makes you happy.