We recently caught up with Matt Easton, photographer extraordinaire. When he’s not working with international brands in New York he is in his home town of London where he often uses Direct Digital. We took advantage of his recent presence in the capital and asked him a few questions.
Matt took us through his journey from student to assisting with Mert & Marcus (an impressive and educational experience) to fully-fledged photographer in his own right, working with global clients (such as Charlotte Tilbury cosmetics, Net-a-Porter, and Bulgari) and models for world-renowned publications (Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and Clash to name a few). He goes on to discusses what inspires him and how he’s developed the sultry style he’s known for in his images.
How did you get into photography?
By Mistake actually.
At my secondary school careers advisement evening I was told that I had the perfect attributes to be a graphic designer. I was highly dyslexic and became fixated on that being my only career option. Fast forward a few years and I was specializing in Graphic Design and my Art Foundation and I stumbled across the photography dark room. I was enchanted by the process of developing my own images, making something from nothing. I loved being alone in there, sometimes for days on end; I got inspired by the magical process, the red lights – the peaceful environment was a haven for creativity while life outside the 4 walls moved at a rapid pace… I even learnt to love the smell of chemicals on my hands.
From that moment I never looked back. I went on to get my degree in photography before moving to London where I worked hard and forced my way into assisting some of the most iconic photographers of our generation.
Somewhere between discovering the darkroom and doing my degree, I reflected on the path I had chosen. It was then that I realized I was always meant to be a photographer, I was always the one to have a camera at a social environment, I documented everything and anything I could but simply didn’t connect the dots, realizing my passion and hobby could become my profession.
How would you describe your style?
I would like to think that my images are slightly sexy while maintaining a raw and emotional innocence. They are young and modern with the elegance of classic film photography which has been described as reminiscent of the hay-day of fashion in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
What inspires your photography, how did you discover your style?
I try to take inspiration from everything in life. We can be inspired by anything and everything if we allow our minds to see in a different way. A lot of my inspiration comes from Movies, from old classics like “Some Like it Hot” to modern day blockbusters like “The Favourite”.
I also love to travel; travelling always inspires me, whether it’s a historic, cultural trip to somewhere like Rome or Venice, OR to switching off on a Caribbean beach listening to music. I also seem to trigger inspiration by allowing myself to be creative and make mistakes, testing and playing around in the studio under no pressure; trying things you have never tried and realised there is no such thing as failing. Photography is Art, Art is subjective, so no opinion matters more than your own, believe in what you do.
I discovered my style by accepting who I am and realizing who I’m not. There is always so much change in fashion photography, especially in today’s modern era where social media and influencers are having more power. You have to really stick to what you believe and shoot what makes you happy, even if it’s against the grain of what’s currently “hot” in fashion right now.
It was a journey of realizing who I am, sticking to what I want to do and realizing what inspires me which evolved my style to what it is today.
What are some of your favourite shoots you have worked on?
Ohhh tough one. I honestly love what I do, there is not 1 day where I go to set wishing I was somewhere else. But a favourite that sticks in mind was with Anna Ewers in Costa Rica. It was early starts catching the morning sun, chilled pool time during the day when the sun was too hot and high in the sky, and then shooting again later in the afternoon when the sun was lower. It was so much fun, chilled, inspiring, and a great way to bond friendships.
Another personal favourite was Clash Magazine with Rita Ora. We had a lot to do in limited time, But Rita’s energy and excitement about the project enabled us to get more than we needed.
Tell us about working with Mert & Marcus
It was a real privilege and honour to spend 7 years working and travelling the world with Mert & Marcus. There was never a dull day and there was always something to be learnt. We travelled the world on a weekly basis, working with the best models, the best stylists and glam teams, and the best thing was we got paid to learn the craft from pioneers of this generation.
It wasn’t easy, it was hard work. But if they saw you put 100% effort into helping them, they would give you the same level of respect and understanding back in return. Honesty, trust and being humble was a key to our relationship. We stay in touch until this day grabbing a glass of wine or tequila when we can.
As a photographer primarily, how has the push towards moving image affected your style?
I’m not sure it has changed my style, but it has definitely changed the way photographers shoot. Still images will always be prioritized in my opinion; however, the power of social media and the push towards moving image on multiple content platforms mean the workload being produced has been doubled. Gone are the days when 6 campaign images are required. More often than not clients are now asking for the original needs along with a 30 – 60-second film with BTS images, Instagram images, and moving social media videos.
Planning, communication and good production are more essential now than ever. It’s not a bad thing, actually the opposite… the more content you produce, the more people will see it. It’s self-promotion and things won’t change, so we as image-makers have to adapt to it.
What equipment do you like using? Do you have a preferred brand?
I have a few favourite cameras which I use depending on the brief… from a PhaseOne 645df to a Canon 5DS to a Leica M7. I love using different cameras as each camera has its own special qualities.
Why do you choose to use Direct Digital? How have we helped you?
Direct Digital have been amazing, constantly showing their support and backing me. This comes down to a long relationship which started in my assisting days and long may it continue. Direct was so supportive of me when I spent 7 years with Mert & Marcus and during that transition period.
Putting relationships aside, Direct is highly professional with a great knowledge of all equipment used, old and new, and have a vast amount of experience across the photographic board understanding the industry inside and out.
As for what’s next…. Let’s see what the future holds as its constantly changing. I do have some personal projects lined up which I’m excited about. It’s important to always remain creative and hunt for different projects which inspire you.