New York, New York
I’m Matt Oliver. I use an iPhone to take pictures in NYC.
Your exhibit in New York “Yes, I Have A Real Camera” features a series of photographs made with your iPhone. You emphasized the point that your iPhone is a real camera and also a device that provides essential tools for everyday living. What exact meaning you were aiming to get across to your audience?
Professional camera gear is amazing, and constantly getting more advanced, but you don’t necessarily need it to take photos that you’ll be happy with. Start by using what’s already in your pocket... If you pay attention to composition, keep a steady hand, and generally treat your camera-phone more like a camera than a phone, it will work like one.
How did people react? Were you surprised?
I met a few purists who thought that shooting with anything more advanced than a homemade pinhole camera was cheating. But for the most part, people seemed to like it… They’d stop by the gallery (I sat in there every day for two weeks) and we would exchange tricks and tips for iPhone photography.
Do you have a background in photography or visual communication? How did you arrive at exhibiting such a strong social topic? Was there a particular moment or occurrence that provoked you to approach this?
My background is in radio broadcasting and nightlife. Both have benefitted my photography hobby. I see some parallels between radio and photography… When telling a story, pictures are often more succinct than words. So I think I’m attracted to the efficiency of photos. And the schedule I have with nightlife (leaving all of my days free) gives me time to explore the streets, running and biking, and always taking lots of pictures along the way.
The beauty of society today is the ability to share ideas freely and quickly.
Life advice in two sentences?
If you’re intentional, thoughtful, and deliberate when using your camera, you’ll see better results. I think the same is true in our relationships with people.
Was this your first exhibit? If so, what was the most challenging task you faced? What was your favorite part?
Yes, this was my first exhibit. The hardest part was getting the courage to hang the photos on the wall. Once they were up, I loved the conversations that they generated.
Where do you plan to exhibit your work next?
I'm taking "Yes, I Have A Real Camera" to Los Angeles next. That will be within the next couple months. I'll keep you posted!
The key to taking a strong photo is try to accurately capture any scene that makes you do a double-take. I will often be riding my bike down a street and then notice a unique puddle, shadow, or silhouette of a person, and it makes me stop. Then the challenge is to take a photo that captures the moment the same way it caught your eye in the first place.
Sophistication is putting lots of thought into your craft, but making it look effortless.