PiX article – about Matt Raven

25 10 2008

We were recently interviewed for an article in PiX Magazine, South Africas leading photographic publication:

Some questions from the PiX team:

  1. How did you get into photography?

I’ve always enjoyed the arts; I come from an artistic family, my mother’s a drama teacher and my father’s a wizard with a paintbrush, pens and a guitar – I fell off the bus and pursued a profession in the corporate world that I despised and in 2005 I decided to combine my interest in photography with the business skills I’d acquired.

  1. What do you enjoy most about your job?

It’s very rewarding watching our business grow so successfully and eventually reaping the fruits of our labour. Challenging shoots and travelling to interesting locations keeps me inspired.

  1. How would you describe your photographic style and how it has developed over the years?

I like to think I don’t have a particular style and if I do it’s constantly evolving.

  1. How has digital photography changed commercial photography?

From a processing perspective it has improved quality capabilities drastically, however access to equipment and instant gratification has led many advertising agencies to believe they can do their own commercial shoots and avoid the costs of using a “professional” photographer – often to the detriment of the client.

  1. What’s your main workhorse camera system and why do you like it?

99% of my work is shot on SLR format for ease of use but we do have larger systems available if needed for commercial work. I’m very happy with my Nikon cameras and looking forward to yet another upgrade in the next few weeks, my trusty D200 has over 155 000 actuations without a single service and is still going strong.

  1. Are your images digitally altered?

Of course they are! Just as film prints were processed, nowadays it’s just a bit more precise and editing (whether simple crop & adjust or full edit) is an important part of professional photography. As competition increases photographers are forced to keep up to date with the latest editing techniques.

  1. When taking a test photo, do you use a meter or the histogram?

Ah, the age old light-meter debate. I don’t even own one! Just as I refuse to shoot according to text-book photographic rules, so too do I prefer creating an image based on outcomes rather than calculated inputs. It’s important that one has a very good understanding of light though.

  1. What programs do you use for editing and conversions?

Chanti is the edit master; I just click the camera buttons. She uses Photoshop and Aperture mainly.

  1. Do you have any words of wisdom to offer someone aspiring to become a commercial photographer?

Be ready to spend a lot of money on equipment, facilities and marketing. Be prepared to spend long hours and weekends while you build up a reputation. Do an apprenticeship first if possible to build your portfolio and improve your skills so that when you’re ready to market yourself you can handle the type of work you’re taking on. In this industry referrals are by far your biggest marketing tool so be sure to keep your clients absolutely happy – even if it means putting in more work than initially anticipated. And probably the most important lesson to learn is not to undercharge when starting out. I’ll go into more about that later.

  1. How is digital photography affecting the industry?

Every “Tom, Dick and Harry” has a camera nowadays and can take snaps. This benefits the industry in terms of equipment costs being reduced due to consumer numbers and technological improvements developing at a rapid rate to stay ahead of the competition. It has however also taken a chunk out of the professional photographers market share though as companies often feel they can take the shots themselves.

Top end photographers haven’t been affected as much due to it being a largely skill based industry.

  1. What do you think of the level of photography in South Africa?

South African photographers are among the best in the world in terms of photographic talent – unfortunately some of the most artistic photographers are largely undiscovered and lack the skills to market themselves to the industry.

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