Here in Lomography, we've always loved how we can tell stories of people in the form of interviews. It's rewarding to be able to help people get their message across. Maybe that's why we instantly loved the work of portrait photographer Rosie Matheson the moment we saw it.
Rosie is one of those photographers who find meaning in the little details she sees within the frame. She incorporates those elements seamlessly in her work because she is genuinely trying to make a connection with her subject. She pays attention to the frame as if she's telling the story herself. And maybe that's the reason why her photos look so natural. No fancy effects needed. Honesty is all Rosie needs to get her message across with her photographs.
Hello, Rosie, and welcome to the Magazine! Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Thank you for having me! I’m a portrait photographer based between London and Brighton. I’ve been shooting portraits for about seven years now primarily on a medium format film camera.
How did your photographic journey start?
It’s weird because when I look back at my life, I realize I started taking loads of pictures when I was about 7/8 years old. I then got my first digital camera aged around 11 as I was obsessed with photographing my world. Throughout my teenage years, I shot on the Fisheye and Diana cameras constantly. During school, aged about 15, all of my art and graphics work was centered around photoshoots and I kind of never really stopped taking photos from that point onwards.
What inspires you to take photographs?
Having a reason to explore the world and the lives of people everywhere. From a young age I was used to communicating my experience of life through a camera and I think because of that, it’s why I still do it and how I express myself most. Anything can inspire me, it could be the way someone leans against a wall or the way a guy grips his girlfriend's leg who is sat behind him on a motorbike.
Small elements of life that tell a story. I love how people dress and what you can learn about them from their outfits, tattoos, and accessories. Photography is a beautiful way to experience the world and it's an excuse to be in some crazy places a lot of the time!
We love your portrait work and how natural your shots look. What made you want to shoot portraits?
I was pretty shy and introverted as a teenager and I found photography was an escape from that. I could almost become this photographer character and carry a lot more confidence. Photographing people got me out of my shell and it felt exhilarating and it was a way I could overcome my anxieties - my idea of hell was always having to approach new people or speak out in public but when it was for the purpose of photography I would always do it.
Once I started shooting portraits, I couldn’t stop. They got me access to rooms with my favorite musicians and to places I would have never found myself otherwise. Meeting so many people over the world is amazing seeing how we are all so similar yet all so different. I wouldn’t want to shoot any other subject matter.
Why choose film in your work?
Film is what I started shooting with and came back to after a few years trying digital. It just never clicked with me whereas film just felt right.
I love the atmosphere shooting film creates on a shoot where the emphasis is on the creative and the bond between photographer and subject rather than constantly reviewing images. For me it means shooting with a lot more meaning, I’m not trying to waste any shots. It helps me to focus on what I am really trying to shoot and communicate. Of course, film looks incredible and has so much emotional depth and texture to it. The colors and tones you get from film keep me coming back to it every time. There’s nothing like it.
What do you wish to get across with your photographs?
I like to show diversity and to be inclusive of all. I think it’s a simple message about being human, having emotions, and capturing a moment in time.
Your images look so clean and refreshing. Was this a particular style that you were going for?
It was never intended. I started shooting with a medium format camera eight years ago and it’s kind of the style that I developed naturally just through my choice of locations, backgrounds, diffusing light, and shooting with a shallow depth of field.
How would you describe your photographic style?
Personal, honest, documentary. Telling a story.
How are you right now? How are you dealing with these crazy times?
I’m doing pretty well at the moment. Back in March, I really wasn’t doing very well and was super anxious, and lacked any inspiration. However, I am super happy to be on the other side of those feelings now. Luckily work is extremely busy and honestly, that keeps me sane. Staying creative, meditating, and getting a good night's sleep is key for me as well as my daily Vitamin C and D.
What's the first thing you're going to do once all of this is over?
I really want to go to Japan and it will also be nice to be able to be with all of my favorite people in one room/place.
What's your dream photography project?
I really want to shoot a fashion story in Hawaii. I’d love to shoot some portraits of gorillas and orangutans. I’m hoping to shoot a short documentary on super8 next year also.
Which do you think is more important - talent or skill?
Talent. Anyone can learn skills but having an eye and also a love and interest in what you’re doing is key.
What does a perfect day look like for Rosie Matheson?
Waking up around 9:30 am and opening my blinds to see lovely sunshine and blue skies. Hopefully, I am somewhere tropical. Eating some fresh fruit for breakfast. Going for a chilled walk whilst photographing someone. After lunch lying by a swimming pool with my friends drinking cocktails and watching a crazy beautiful sunset.