Professional photographer Matt Cooper started his photography career later in life but found he was hooked very quickly. A former actor in film, TV and theatre; Matt suddenly decided that he no longer wanted to go to casting sessions and auditions and wait for the phone to ring. With his wife, they decided to take 3 months off and visit The Pyrenees in France, which was when he bought his first camera on a whim.
Photography started as a hobby but has subsequently become his profession for the last 4 years. He says “When I first became serious about photography, I decided I didn’t want any training (I had already trained for 4 years as an actor and theatre director) and I didn’t want any rules, I wanted to make my own mistakes and learn from them and be able to take the pictures that might not be in the textbook, something that I’ve pigheadedly pursued!”
He likes to sell his images as pieces of art and that has always been his focus and what drives him. But it also enables him to experiment and gives him freedom as a photographer.
Matt, where are you from?
I am originally from Surrey which is on the outskirts of London.
Where do you currently live?
I’m currently living in North London in an area called Muswell Hill.
What genre of photography do you specialise in?
Landscape/Cityscape and Commercial/Architectural Photography.
Describe your style of photography?
I’ve always been into HDR (high dynamic range) – I love vibrant images that jump out at you. In fact, discovering HDR photography was the breakthrough for me. It allows you to blend multiple exposures together creating vivid colours and bringing out all the textures available in a scene.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have just got back from shooting in New York to add to an already busy summer of travelling.
What is your next project or assignment?
I’m having a break from travelling for a few months as Christmas is always busy for selling framed prints of my work. So, at this time of the year I tend to focus on that.
Are there any photographers whose work/style you admire?
I like the work of Australian photographer Peter Lik who specialises in nature and panoramic landscape images. American photographer, Elia Locardi is another who’s work I admire.
What is your favourite memory from your experiences?
I love those moments when something unexpected happens… an awesome sunset or when the clouds look amazing and I just happened to have stumbled upon it – these are my favourite memories.
What’s the biggest photographic challenge you overcame?
They are ongoing! I often find myself asking the question… how can I do that? But pretty soon I’ve cracked it and I’m doing it. But I guess making a living from photography was the biggest challenge I faced.
What’s in your camera bag?
Nikon D810 (somehow, I still only have one camera) and a ton of prime lenses along with accessories such as tripods and cable release.
- Samyang 14mm f/2.8
- Nikon 20mm f/1.8G
- Nikon 24mm f/2 MF
- Samyang 24mm f/2.8 tilt/shift
- Nikon 35mm f/1.8G
- Nikon 50mm f/1.8G
- Nikon 85mm f/1.8G
- Nikon 105mm f/2.8G VR
- Nikon 200mm f/4 MF
- Nikon 300mm f/4 VR
- Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G VR
What photographic equipment would you never leave home without?
Wouldn’t be much fun without the camera I guess? But my Ray Bans are permanently attached to my face too! The other accessory is a shutter release cable which is important to me.
What advice you would give anyone who is starting out?
To not listen to anyone else. If you want to do it then just do it. Oh, and to practise a lot!
Any pitfalls they should avoid?
Don’t ever compare your work to others. I see what other photographers do but I try not to let it affect my work.
Lastly… if you weren’t a photographer what would you be doing?
I was an actor and event manager before I became a full-time photographer so I guess I would still
be doing that.
To view more of Matt’s work or get in contact with him visit www.mattcooperphotography.co.uk
Images by Matt Cooper. All rights reserved. No usage without permission.
Interview by Kav Dadfar.