A street photographer born in Harrow, North West London, in 1974, Matt Stuart has been shooting on the street with Leica cameras since 1996. Matt has been part of numerous solo & group exhibitions and was included in “Street Photography Now” published by Thames & Hudson in 2010. He is a member of the international street photography collective, iN-PUBLIC. His exhibition “Pedestrians” is part of Leica Camera’s Photography Unplugged events at Photomonth, where he will also be conducting a workshop and portfolio reviews. His exhibition runs October 23 – October 27 and you can RSVP for a private viewing here.
Q: Your exhibition is “Pedestrians” and the images are classic street photography. What appeals to you about capturing the “everyday moments” on the street?
A: Nothing is ever the same on the street, the people and the places are constantly changing. Consequently there are millions of exciting permutations, whatever time of the day I decide to walk out with my camera.
Q: From your photos, it seems that you have a keen sense of humour and also a feeling for the absurd juxtapositions of everyday life. Would you agree with this and if so, why is humour an important element in your images, and what do you think they express about life in general?
A: I think my photographs reflect my personality. If I was a greengrocer, I think I would be a humorous one. I do like to remind myself not to take things too seriously, but I’m fascinated with how strange and unusual life can be. I love that old G.K. Chesterton quote “Humour can get in under the door while seriousness is still fumbling at the handle.”
Q: What is your approach to photography?
A: I try to go out every day with as naive an attitude as I can muster, without preconceptions, in the hope that I keep myself open to any situation as it presents itself.
Q: What camera equipment do you use for your street photography and why?
A: I use a Leica MP with a 35 mm 1.4 Summilux lens. I’ve been using Leica rangefinders for almost twenty years now. They are quick, quiet, simple, robust and if I remember to keep my elbows in, they make me almost invisible.
Q: How does your exhibit “Pedestrians” fit with Leica Camera’s Photography Unplugged? How did you select the images included in the exhibit?
A: My photographs are spontaneous, un-manipulated, and honestly observed, they fit happily into an exhibition of everyday photography.
Q: What do you hope, if anything, the viewer takes away from looking at these images?
A: I hope they come away feeling intrigued, amused and inspired to take their own photographs.
Q: Do you have a favorite shot from this exhibition? If so, which one and why?
A: I like the shot of the headless man with the umbrella, because when I took the photo I didn’t see the shadowed head. I like it when I get more than I expected.
Q: Are there any other photographers that inspire you?
A: I like photographers who push boundaries and on occasions come up with images you have never seen before. Off the top of my head, Christophe Agou, Jeff Mermelstein, Joel Meyerowitz, Trent Parke and Alex Webb all tick this box.
Q: You’re instructing a Masterclass on October 26 at the Photography Unplugged pop up studio. What can participants expect to learn during the class? How can people register or learn more?
A: I would expect to teach them to achieve the confidence necessary to shoot great photographs. There are still places available, you can register here.
Q: In the description of the Masterclass, it says you’ll share some do’s and don’ts of street photography. Can you share a couple of tips just for our blog readers who aren’t in London for your class?
A: It took me 10 years to realize it was a good idea to shoot at 1/500th of a second. Great street photographs don’t come every day. Consequently you have to be very dogged, you might go for months without a really good shot. However, when it arrives you and everyone else are amazed by what you have found – and that’s a lovely feeling.
Q: You’ll also be conducting portfolio reviews. What are some specific things you look for when reviewing a portfolio?
A: Strong start, strong finish.
Q: Do you have any tips for someone who is looking to put together a portfolio?
A: People don’t want to read the same sentence fifty times.
Q: You’re also a member of In-Public. How has being a member of this collective helped or benefited your work?
A: I’ve received lots of constructive criticism from photographers that I respect. It has given me exposure, confidence and self-assurance.
Q: Is there anything else that you’d like the reader of the Leica Camera Blog to know?
A: I’m working on a book of my photographs that will definitely be published in 2015.
Thank you for your time, Matt!
– Leica Internet Team
See the full lineup of Leica Camera’s Photography Unplugged events at Photomonth here. Connect with Matt on his website, Twitter and Facebook.