Matt Day Photo – 10K Celebration Contest

Matt Day Photo – 10K Celebration Contest

Documentary photography

So, good news; I won a competition!

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And just received a sweet early Christmas present!

First a little back story. I did a degree in photography before this was my job. And back then I shot mostly film; with no clients needing fast turnarounds and tutors who encouraged analogue experimentation I shot a lot of film. Mostly colour, some B&W; mostly medium format, some 35mm. It was fun, it was stretching & it often had unpredictable results for me.

So as I left University I also left film behind. For one, I no longer had access to all the loan counters medium format cameras that I had loved for 3 years. For another I’d been using digital for a while and was slowly learning how to not get terrible looking results from it and allowing it to feel a little more organic. As I gained my first clients I had control, speed, instant feedback that suited the way we worked. So digital it was, and digital it remained.

However at the beginning of 2015 I set some goals for the year. I wanted to work on some personal projects that would stretch me, I wanted to learn some new skills & I wanted to create an ongoing series of artistic works that I could build up. I look forward to sharing a few of these projects here on the blog in the future – its safe to say that while 2015 definitely got the ball rolling on these ideas and I made serious progress on them, the scope far exceeded what I could complete in a single year.

Along this journey, one of my goals was to start working with film again in preparation for a series of portraits I will be working on. So I started doing research to find out what film cameras I could realistically use, what film stocks were still being made that I might want to work with & who is currently working with them whom I could learn from. I know the big names and while I love Winters, Heisler, McCurry et al, I wanted to look to people who I could relate to a little more. And I’ve always found that YouTube is a great place to find amazing photographers with unique voices if you are willing to dig a little deeper and look passed the hoards of gimmicky reviews & click-baity features.

This search led me to Matt Day, a small-town photographer from Ohio, USA with a down to earth perspective & a passion for film photography. I watched his videos, learned & rekindled my own passions as I saw the honest work he was producing in a medium that suited him so well. And as luck would have it, a short while after I had made it through his back-catalog of videos, he announced a competition to celebrate his channel having passed 10,000 subscribers. He wanted to thank us for watching by giving away a pool of prizes that he and a few friends had contributed to – but he wanted us to earn it.

He announced that the prize would go to the person who submitted the best photo story, a collection of images that worked together to build upon each other and communicate something more than a single image could. This got me thinking to what I could possibly submit as the projects I was working towards would be perfect but weren’t close to being complete and my client work wasn’t really suitable. After searching my recent blog posts and portfolios I remembered that a lot of my travels had produced work that I felt represented a strong narrative inviting the viewer along for the ride as I built intimacy with a team of people & the locals we met as we travelled.

After reviewing my travels I decided to submit a slight re-edit of my trip to South Africa in 2013 (a version of which can be seen here: SA01, SA02, SA03). This was a trip that not only produced beautiful imagery but had a profound affect on me as I bonded with my team I’d joined up with as we went to both explore & bring hope to an area we were building long term relationships with.

Fast forward a month & a half and after a busy week of shooting I came home to check my email and discover something that was actually quite unexpected: an email from Matt Day congratulating me on winning and asking to use the photos in the announcement video. You can see the photo story I submitted at the 1:57-4:45 mark in the video below.

The prize is wonderful and I want to thank the man himself, Matt Day – who threw in an amazing pre-production first edition of Serif & Silver photography journal by Nate Matos & who probably didn’t realise what he was signing himself up for until he saw how much it was to post a massive box of gear to the UK from Ohio! I also want to thank the other contributors including: Ted Forbes, author of The Art of Photography, a fantastic photography channel who has inspired me to make full use of the prize with his Holga Project series; Joel from Cub & Co; Billy from State Film LabThink Tank Photo; & Cortiça. But more than the prize, it is the honour of having a photographer whose work & voice you respect choose your work out of 200 entries and say such kind words about it that means so much to me.

So thank you, Matt. It means a lot. I cannot wait to produce some work with the film & camera you provided. And don’t worry, I’ll be setting up a darkroom and developing at home for sure!

But for now, here are a few cheesy unboxing shots so you can see the generosity of all involved:

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