Tell me a little about yourself and what you do.
I’m a photographer and photography teacher from Sydney, Australia. I spend about half the year traveling around, teaching workshops in different cities. I specialize in portraiture. I teach off camera flash, studio lighting as well as portraiture and intimate portraiture. I’ve got a studio in southern Sydney and a YouTube channel that takes up a lot of my time. In the last 3 months I’ve been home for a total of two weeks. The rest of the time I’ve been on the road. I was in Japan, Indonesia, Korea, China, Hong Kong, and then back in Sydney for two weeks. And now I’m here for 18 days to teach three workshops, do a photo walk, and to do a video series with Adorama. Then heading to Peru for a tour for 10 days. Then to LA for workshops and then back to Sydney.
What kind of techniques do you teach in your lighting workshops?
It starts off pretty foundational. I find that a lot of photographers who have been shooting for a long time, still don’t pay attention to the light. They get technically competent on their settings and focal lengths and composition, that sort of thing, but still don’t really look at the light. We go through all the different aspects of light; the color and direction, the shape and size, the intensity, and the kind of shadows it creates. You can use that knowledge for whatever kind of photography. Whether you’re doing landscapes or faces, where you put the shadows makes a big difference on the shot. Which again, people won’t always think about. It’s all about how we process and make sense of shapes, whether it’s a mountain or a woman’s body, you get the sense of the curves by the way the shadows are and where the light is. It sounds obvious when you talk about it but through all the courses you can see the moments when the penny drops and students really see how the pieces all fit together.
What are you working on for Adorama?
Well, Adorama and Adorama Rentals together have organized a whole bunch of equipment for me to loan. I’ve got different mirrorless kits and I’m going to each of the five boroughs to do a mini travel video slash camera review in each one. Like yesterday we took the Leica to Staten Island, and we’ll take the latest Fuji to Brooklyn, the latest Panasonic to the Bronx, and so on. We eat at a local restaurant and meet some local people, take portraits on the street and do a camera review along the way. So that’s the main one we’re doing and then I’ll film a tutorial for AdoramaTV. The five are going to sit on my YouTube channel and the other on will be on AdoramaTV.
Because the Youtube audience is international and the majority of my audience is in America, it makes sense for me to connect with American businesses. They’ve sent me some products to review and present to my audience before but this is my first time doing a series with them, which for me I feel really lucky, obviously. With a huge company and big reputation to protect, it is a fair bit of work to pull together to get the 5 cameras I wanted, and lenses, all available on the same day for the two weeks that I needed them. That’s no neat feat. I don’t know how many people I need to thank but, Thank you, all.
What kind of camera do you usually work with? Which is your favorite?
Well, a lot of people will remember me when I started my channel I called myself “That Nikon Guy”. I was all about Nikon, because I was using primarily Nikon stuff. But I changed the name to Matt Granger on the Youtube channel because I don’t only use Nikon and it kind of is a bit exclusive to non Nikon users who are the majority of my watchers. I still mainly shoot with Nikon cameras. I use a D800E for portraiture and the DF for more relaxed stuff, street [photography] and things where I don’t need the high resolution for printing. Mirrorless: I’m using the Fuji X-T1 at the moment; I really enjoy that. I also have the Canon 1DX for video and sports shooting. I’m a sucker for punishment. I have 3 different systems with three different sets of lenses to maintain but they’re my 4 main cameras.
Do you also shoot on film or do you only shoot digital?
I first started shooting maybe 10 years old or below. My dad and his mother were avid shooters. My grandma would shoot a roll of film every day. Every day that I knew her she’d drive to town, drop off a roll at the [pharmacy] and pick up the one from two days prior and she amassed thousands of terrible photos. Back in high school, when I was 15, we had a dark room so I learned about film and started doing my own prints and negatives. So I was there through that little transition into digital.
Do you prefer film to digital?
On the days, like in New York, where I have time to wander the streets and take photos for myself where I’m not in a rush, something old and manual is great. When I would go to Hong Kong I would shoot film just for fun. Now I actually shoot with the DF and I’ll use the different manual focus lenses just to slow down as well. But until a few years ago you could argue that you can get better results with film but I don’t think that’s true anymore. Like the D800 Nikon and Sony A7R I think the quality off those lenses are better than Fuji Velvia or whatever slow speed, high quality, 35mm film is out there. I think they’ve passed it now. Sad to say, but I think it’s true.