10 minutes with Matt Johnston
When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer?
I didn’t really know until my second year of undergraduate study. I was on a Media Production degree and in the second year was taught photography by two of the most passionate and exciting photographers I have ever met. It was also the time I truly discovered the University library and the work of Ed Ruscha, Jeff Brouws, Walker Evans and Alec Soth, the kind of big names and big pictures you tend to gravitate towards as a young photographer.
I’d love to say it was one singular image, or a view, or moment, it would be far more romantic!
What is your daily routine like, when you are not on assignment?
It varies, a lot. I’m currently teaching on the open class #phonar alongside Jonathan Worth, we have over 1,200 students taking part across the globe and so both producing content, and working out the logistics, takes up a decent chunk of the day. The nature of the class, and issues we address are all very much about working as a photographer in today’s post-photographic era, and with things moving so quickly I spend a good amount of time researching and speaking with current practitioners.
It started in January of this year, and came out of discussions I had with Wayne Ford and Jonathan Worth while teaching on the above open class #phonar. The goal is to create a space for as many people as possible to share their thoughts on some fantastic photo books as well as to promote the physical book and experience of looking/reading in itself. As well as the website where we invite people to share thoughts, we have also promoted the idea of meet-ups where a group actually meet and sit around a table with a stack of books. So far we have had meet-ups in the UK, Australia, and just recently the Photo Book Club Barcelona was set up.
The web has been fantastic for promoting photo books but there is nothing like turning the pages, feeling the paper and smelling the glue!
Photography is not dead!
I think those that are ‘up and comers’ have some great opportunities right now, I don’t know if the playing field has been this level in quite some time. The rise of indie publishing, blogging and social media breaks down some of the traditional barriers of ‘entry’ to the photographic world. So don’t be put off! Sure it’s hard but as Stefan Chow pointed out – ‘it was the same 50 years ago’.