Photo of the Week 16 April 2013
Photographer: Mathew Sturtevant
Hometown: Austin, TX
Congratulations to this week’s Photo of the Week winner Mathew Sturtevant from Austin, TX. We love everything about this stunning portrait of music great Willie Nelson. Matt was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about his image, his photography and what photographing in the “Live Music Capital of the World” is like.
What was it like to photograph a music icon like Willie Nelson? Who else have you enjoyed photographing? What kind of advice can you give to someone who is posing for a professional portrait or shooting a portrait?
The challenge in photographing someone like Willie was simply getting to him. We had sent hundreds of emails and made hundreds of phone calls trying to schedule a portrait. In the making of my coffee table book “The Sound of Austin,” we eventually scheduled and made portraits of one hundred of Austin’s best musicians. It was like running a political campaign the way we would strategically win over bigger and bigger stars. No magazine or publisher had thought of doing this book idea even though everybody knows Austin is the “Live Music Capital of the World.” I decided not to wait for someone to give me the dream assignment, so I self published. My advice to up and comers would be to just shoot what you are passionate about and do it in a way that hasn’t been done over and over. Anybody can take concert shots, but I made a big beautiful book of truly intimate portraits.
In your submission of the image you mentioned that this photograph is part of a collection for a book you are writing on music and musicians in Austin, TX. Where did you come up with the concept for the book? What makes the Austin music scene unique?
Austin’s music scene is not about the hairspray or the tilt of the cowboy hat. The musicians here are authentic. it’s more how you sound than how you look.
What type of camera, gear, and lighting equipment did you use to achieve the shot? Is there any tool you would recommend for portrait shooting?
I shoot with a Nikon D300 and I’ve used Calumet Travelites for over 20 years. I also, use 2 Calumet Traveller packs. The design and functionality of Calumet lighting makes perfect sense. They’ve never missed a beat. When photographing someone like Willie Nelson, you get about 3 minutes. There’s no time for lights that aren’t syncing, or that don’t have consistent output.
What kind of photography do you enjoy shooting most both for professional and personal photography projects?
I really enjoy shooting a variety of subjects. Portraits are maybe my favorite, but I don’t have to deal with a publicist to shoot nature.
Who are some of your favorite photographers and artists that you draw inspiration from?
My favorite photogs are Keith Carter, Jack Spencer, Michael O’Brien, Wyatt McSpadden and Josef Koudelka.
To see more of Matt’s work and to find more information and images from his book “The Sound of Austin” be sure to check out his portfolio www.fotomatt.com.
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