10 minutes with Matt Hoyle

Interviews with Photographers July 16, 2014 6:39 am

Do you remember when you first became interested in photography?

I first became interested in photography while I was a Creative Director in advertising and would search online and through books when I needed inspiration for an ad campaign. I was a fan of anyone from David LaChapelle to Nadav Kander commercially, as well as Elliot Erwit, Avedon, Weston, Robert Frank, Martin Parr, William Eggleston, etc. It wasn’t until after I left advertising that I really became interested in photography as a photographer; I needed a creative outlet and I thought I’d give it a try. I really didn’t have much hope for it financially. I just wanted something where I was creatively unbound and could create things that were solely me (and my subject). It started when I went on vacation and took some black and white street photography with a 50mm lens (inspired by Bresson) When people saw the photos, they said I had an eye and should pursue photography. I thought and thought about it and decided I have nothing to lose and everything to gain so I went about creating a folio to get work while at the same time teaching myself the fundamentals of photography along the way.

Who were the first photographers that you found inspiring?

Because I worked in advertising, photo books and award annuals were a regular read as references and inspiration for campaigns I’d be working on. I have always been a fan of David LaChapelle to Nadav Kander commercially and then Elliot Erwit, Avedon, Weston, Robert Frank, Martin Parr, William Eggleston etc…

Can you tell me about your project, Icebergs? Is it a personal project?

Icebergs was the very first real project for me. The one where I said, I’m going to carry a theme throughout the photographs, from the first shot to the last. I’ll have an exhibition if i’m lucky enough, I’ll make it a cohesive theme and I’ll make it personal in some way so that I can have enough drive to do it for half a year. And that’s really where I started with a drive. I wanted to shoot the opposite of what I was seeing in so many photographs. Beautiful people, posing and showing their best. Allowing the photo to be posted on Facebook for the everyday folk or released to the magazines for the more famous, only when it was deemed pretty enough by the subject. I didn’t want to go on the opposite end to try to make a statement. I simply wanted to shoot a group of people as they were. Blemishes and all. At the time, I had been living near Bondi Beach in Australia and wanted to know who the people up on the cliffside were that were swimming in the rock pool there. I of course knew the Bondi beach crowd and it was a feast for the eyes. Tanned bodies, bikinis and beautiful bodies out for posing, but that’s not what I was interested in shooting. I ventured up to the cliffside and saw that it was a swimming club called the Bondi Icebergs Winter Swimming Club. And they were simply one of the most wonderful group of people you could imagine. Rotund, freckled, toothless, pale but all very much comfortable in their own skin and there simply to swim. In the winter. I befriended some and asked if I could photograph them and they obliged although they wondered why I would be interested in them. I became a fixture there for a winter and shot everyone who caught my eye. And so many of them did. The white of the pool acted like a beautiful reflector and gave me so much bounce and light to match the background that it made for some really interesting shots. Not the least of which the subjects themselves.
I saw how comfortable and confident they were in front of the camera and it really came across as attractive in the truest sense of the word. After exhibiting throughout the world and having the images published extensively, the common reply I get is either, “I feel like I know these people somehow” or “They are beautiful, in their own way.” And to me, that’s the way I wanted them to be seen. 

If you could go back ten years, what advice would you give yourself?

Don’t worry so much about the technical side or the gadgets. Concentrate on emotion and capturing things that move you because those will inherently move other people as well. Stick to a look that is you and remain consistent. Don’t sway with trends as much as you want to. Be yourself and those who like your work will come. Even if it takes time. And those are the ones you want to work with anyway. Because they came for you. Not what you can emulate.
Matt is based in New York. See more of his work, here.

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