Dillon Matthew talks about going from nature photography to portraiture
by Taylor Seamans 3 months ago

Q: Tell me a little about yourself and how you got into photography.

Dillon: I’m Dillon Matthew. I’m 18 and from San Diego, CA. In relation to photo stuff, I started about four years ago. I’d do nature stuff with my parents when we’d travel. My parents are a lot older, so we did a lot of the big trips when I was younger. So, I’ve been to Africa and Iceland which is really cool. That’s where I started taking photos. I think I realized I could really start doing photo when I submitted one of my photos from Africa to a contest. That photo won second place, and I started thinking maybe I could do something with this. Then, end of sophomore year and start of junior year of high school I started getting into portraiture. Within that, I found music photography. I’m very into the music scene itself, but music photography specifically is so fun. To be right up in front is amazing. It’s just you and the performer, and you have no idea what they’re gonna do. You have no idea how they’re going to perform. It’s really unpredictable.

Q: What draws you to photography over other things?

Dillon: So, I’m studying art, and for all art majors, you have to take two studio classes. The first studio class is all 3D based stuff. So, we had to do sculpture, wood work, clay, and book binding. That was most of the 3D stuff I’ve done. I had to take drawing too, but photo and video is what I find most interesting. I like photography because it’s hands on in a mechanical way. I plan out everything, and I feel like it’s easier to do that with photography. With drawing you can’t plan out every step. I feel like photography can be more structured which matches how I am. I’m meticulous in the way that I like to have everything planned out before I do it.

Q: What do you think about when setting up a shot?

Dillon: If the location isn’t planned, I’ll normally base where I’m shooting with someone on aspects about them. That’s either color scheme of their clothes/appearance or honestly their personality a lot of times. There’s this one person I shot with recently who I’d never met. She does YouTube stuff, so through watching her videos and getting a sense of her personality, I found places that matched her. That helped me match colors to that as well. Everything I do revolves around color. The stuff I create tends to have a specific color scheme. I recently did a series that was based on summer and winter. A lot of the places I shot at wouldn’t necessarily be places that are associated with those seasons, but through the colors it fit.

Q: Where do you meet people?

Dillon: Since being in LA, it’s mostly been through Instagram. Honestly, everyone answers their DMs. It’s ridiculous.

Q: When it comes to subject matter of your shots, how do you decide what to shoot?

Dillon: I think concerts are my favorite. I feel like even if it’s the same person every single time, each show is different. You’re gonna get something different from each show. That goes along with my long term goal which is tour photography, to tour with someone. I think that would be so cool.

Q: I feel like concert photography is all about capturing an energy in a still. What are your thoughts on this, and how do you go about it?

Dillon: I feel like no matter where you are, even if it’s just a different venue each night, it’s going to be different each time. There’s a different crowd, a different energy. I really don’t like shooting bands I’m not into because I feel like it’s really hard to make good photos of people that you’re not interested in. I’ve experienced that. I used to shoot with a music blog, and they only sent me to shoot one thing. It was this screamo band, and it was just really uncomfortable. 

Q: Do you see yourself pursuing photography as a career, in what industry?

Dillon: Yeah I do. Whether it’s for a magazine or something else, I want to pursue it as a career. I’ve been researching a bunch into being a director of photography. On a movie set, they’re the person that composes each scene. Take “Stranger Things” for example. The director of photography is the person who chose how The Upside Down would look, like color scheme wise, compositionally. I think it’s a cool thing to do. Also, it could be interesting to shoot stills for a movie set or TV show— just something in the entertainment industry. I don’t see myself setting up a studio anytime soon and having people over.

Q: Is your approach to photography different depending on if you’re shooting a personal project vs something commercial? If so, how?

Dillon: I don’t really think my approach is too different. I’ve done one shoot with Local Wolves, but when I approach that stuff it’s not any different. It’s still the same planning, and I work more with bands themselves for Local Wolves. So, whatever the feel of that band is is how I’ll match it to the scene or the lighting. I shot for a band called La Bouquet which was started by the drummer of The Neighbourhood. We talked to the band a little bit before the shoot to see what they wanted. That just helped me formulate ideas about how to get the shot. I did a shoot for Lokai, the bracelets, and in that they wanted a specific style but you could still work in your own. 

Q: What do you hope people take away from your photos?

Dillon: Mmm, okay. Let me think about this one for a second. Each shoot that I do is stylistically different, but I feel like as a whole a lot of my photos have a relaxed quality to them. I’m not trying to go for pretty people in pretty locations. It’s more about in between moments, if that makes sense— certain moments of relaxation.

Taylor Seamans
by Taylor Seamans
Taylor is the Editor-in-Chief of inbtwn.

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