Matthew Harris is a young and talented artist / photographer from Australia. I have been a big fan of his works. His photography is unique, instinctive and natural. I'm not the one who likes to compare but to me, Matthew Harris is the new Stephen Shore. The colors in his photographs are just incredible. What about the angles and composition? I really love how vintage his pictures look, and the fact they never let you indifferent. It seems like he always comes across strange scenes of everyday life no one would usually pay attention to and turn them into amazing images. I think my favorites are the ones of his Mom who never minds to take the pose.
1. Can you tell a little something about you?
Well, I am Matthew, I make photos and all sorts of other things, I live in a small Australian town and I’m approximately 70% water (we all are!).
2. How did you get into photography?
I guess when I was younger I just took a lot of pictures. Photos of dogs mainly, with disposable cameras and Polaroid I-zones. I became more interested in pictures when I was about 13 or something, and for quite some time I documented every dead tree that I saw quite obsessively for some unknown reason. Now I document nearly everything quite obsessively, it’s habitual really!
3. What does photography mean to you?
Photos are a brilliant way to collect, memorialize and share all the interesting and not-so-interesting things that I come across, it’s also a useful for engaging a little better with wherever I am or whatever I’m doing, albeit at a photographic distance. As Susan Sontag said in her endlessly quotable book On Photography, “The very activity of taking pictures is soothing, and assuages general feelings of disorientation…”
I’m also really intrigued by how all sorts of bad things can become good things through making a picture of it. A dead bird for example is very sad, but a picture of a dead bird can be profound and beautiful, pictures can really play with things like that I think.
4. Is it important for you to shoot film?
It is. I just love it, and there are so many reasons. I really love colors and film seems to be able to create colors that digital can’t come close to without a bunch of computer interventions. Some old cameras are designed so much better as well. I’ve been using a Yashica TLR lately and it’s such a perfect camera! I like having to look down and spending a moment getting it right, it’s also perfect for sneaky snaps because people just don’t expect it! Despite these things, I’m very fascinated by digital picture convenience and potential.
5. How would you describe your work?
Style wise, many of my pictures seem to look a little candid and very straightforward. In terms of ideas, lately I’ve been really enthralled by people and how we alter and domesticate everything, how we live and think and so on –without portraying all that many people directly.
6. What inspires you?
So many things! They change daily. Everyday objects, walking around, old family pictures, the things we think when we’re asleep, home decoration, Google images, plants and animals and all the other living things, movies, supermarkets (a total horror vacui of stuff; they’re so overwhelming and great!), colors and shapes and so on. And other artists such as Miranda July, Andy Warhol, Sumi Ink Club, Wolfgang Tillmans, Stephen Shore and Vivian Maier are some of my inspirational favorites (the list could go on and on and on).
7. Are you self-taught?
Yes. I did try a photographic course for a while but it was very limiting and not fun at all; it was all digital and kind of based around being like famous classical photographers. However, I did get to play a little in the darkroom that everybody else had forgotten, that was wonderful.
8. What feelings do you want people to have when looking at your pictures?
I’m not too sure about feelings, but I guess I’d like people to ponder a little more about all the subtleties and nuances that are otherwise consigned to oblivion.
9. And to finish, my favorite question... If you had a time machine, when and where would you go?
There are so many other eras that I’d love to witness, but I would love to visit the world before people were the dominant species! Before all of our big cities and contraptions and pictures. That would be really nice and fascinating I think.
If you like conifers, dogs and cats, please visit Matthew Harris' Flickr. (And blog too!)