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Interviews

Interview with Street Photographer Matt Hart

· 2.May.2015

Matt Hart is a black and white Street and Event Photographer based in Liverpool. He is an official Fujifilm X Photographer; a Formatt Hitech featured Artist and the founder of The Fujiholics Social Media Group. Annual projects have helped Matt to focus on his personal development within the industry constantly challenging his own ideas and concepts and motivating him to learn new skills. Matt is passionate about Street Photography, he has developed the skill to observe and be virtually invisible, letting the world carry on around him without affecting the scene. The subject is unaware. Matt keeps the system and process as simple as possible so as not to over complicate the task. This is why he has chosen the Fuji X system for his professional work which helps him to achieve his style. Matt runs Street Photography workshops and courses around Liverpool and other major cities passing on his techniques in Street Photography.

Tomasz Trzebiatowski: What is it that drives you the most when it comes to street photography? Have you been involved in other photography genres as well?

Matt Hart: I am a full time professional photographer so over the years I have learnt to shoot just about anything. People used to joke with me that I could turn my hand to photograph anything and I guess its true. If a client gave me a brief I would go out and shoot to the brief. I shoot events and commissions now as well as Street for my work, when I am on holiday I love to shoot Landscape as I find it a great way to unwind.

Street photography for me has always been my passion, from an early age I have always enjoyed going out on my own with my camera and photographing the people around me in a candid way. My Street photography is driven by the fact all my images shot on film were lost in a house fire, my house burned down many years back and I lost all my early work. I also lost a huge Vinyl collection and  most of the contents of my house including my cameras. So my passion in Street is going out day after day creating new content and looking for those special moments that happen at a fraction of a second. Street was my hobby, I was not planning to do as much Street as I do now but its like a drug, you just have to go out over and over again and get your daily Street Fix.

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T.T.: Why black and white? Do you have the feeling that black and white is adding some more value to your photographs? How often (if ever at all) do you “struggle” and feel like you want to present a photo in color?

M.H.: I am 53 in 2015 so for me photography is all about black and white, all the early images of myself that were taken by my family are black and white and all my personal film images that I have taken before digital where back and white. I struggled with colour when I went digital, I was never a great fan of the colours that you could create from the Nikon or Canon RAW files. I used to play around with them for ages trying to get them just how I wanted them but gave up. My passion is 100% black and white, I shoot RAW and convert and at times now I do use the odd colour image. If my clients want colour I will shoot colour but its very rare. I post most of my clolour Street images in Tumblr (matthewhartphotographer.tumblr.com)  Colour is growing on me as I get older, I also put that  down to the Fuji sensor. I can almost use the RAW file out of my Fuji X100T with very little editing. I think in black and white so colour does not jump out at me like it does with most people. The only real colours I look for are Yellow,Blue and Red the colours of Street.

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T.T.: Are you using Fujifilm in-camera black and white presets? How often are you happy with images straight out of the camera? 

M.H.: I have tried the Fuji jpeg settings and they just don’t work for my style of black and white photography. I want depths of tone in my images I cant quite achieve using jpegs without going backwards in my editing. So I shoot RAW. I do quite like the Classic Chrome look form the X100T and with a few tweaks I could live with it and convert it to black and white.

T.T.: What is currently in your photo bag? Which camera(s), which lens(es)? And what software do you use on a daily basis?

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M.H.: I carry the X-T1 and X100T everywhere I go, I use the 35mm f1.4 and 18mm all the time out on the street. I have the whole range of Fuji lenses and love the 50-140mm for my event work. I think the 50-140mm is even better than the Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VRII with a few tweaks to the X-T1’s firmware this lens could shock a few people. I also own the XPro1 and will never let my XPro1 go. The 16mm is so fast and sharp, I need to get out and use it some more I think it could be a very interesting Street lens.

I use Lightroom CC and Silver Efex Pro for all my work, I have Photoshop CC but prefer to spend my time on the Streets and not editing so don’t use it that much.

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T.T.: Probably the hottest street-photography-related discussion is the one about if the photographer should remain unnoticed or the subject should be aware of us taking a photo. What’s your take on that?

Street photography is Candid its that simple. Street photography should never be set up and should not change the dynamic. There are grey areas in Street but one area that is hard for people to grasp is when is it Street and when is it a Street Portrait ?  If you ask someone for an image its a portrait, if you look at them and gesture with your camera and get permission its a portrait, if you look at them and get a nod its a portrait. So if you shoot them without their permission or as I do in a fast rhythmic candid way its Street. The grey area comes in if they make eye contact with you, you have to shoot fast before they smile. The smile is the grey area. Is it permission or not ? after the Candid shot when they catch you or make eye contact with you and you start to have a conversation, I always make sure I don’t ask permission. I don’t make eye contact with my subjects unless I want to have a conversation with them at some point, so I don’t have to worry about too many portrait situations.  I have been shooting Street for over 40 years and never been asked not to or to delete an image etc I want Street photography to last for ever and to that end I shoot people with the respect they deserve and that way no one will go running to the Government and demand it be banned.

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T.T.: Any piece of equipment you are missing and wish Fujifilm would announce soon?

There are a few lenses I would like in the future but the lens I am looking forward to the most is the 90mm f/2 I asked Fuji for this lens a very long time ago and have been waiting for it to be released for months.

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Make sure you visit Matt’s website and have a look at his work: www.matthewhartphotography.com.

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