Meet Matt, When he’s not building atmosphere with art exhibits and fitting your specs, you’ll find him with a camera in his hands, capturing Brighton on film. We caught up with Matt to find out what makes him tick (before COVID-19 descended on us!), and put him in front of the camera for a change!
Update: Matt is now raising money for the NHS by selling his prints (you legend Matt!) - you can browse and buy them here.
How did you find yourself working at Ollie Quinn?
I was between jobs at the time, working in London doing Chemistry and commuting from Brighton. I wanted something different to what I had been doing, and had worked in an optician before - I saw the job and applied. Being short-sighted and colour vision deficient I feel like I’ve found my niche!
Why Ollie Quinn?
Following the realisation that I wasn’t made for a desk job, I wanted to find something that allowed me to interact with people on a day to day basis - something I knew I enjoyed doing!
What drew you to photography?
I went backpacking in the highlands of Scotland a few years ago, and had never really taken any photos before then. I took a cheap point-and-shoot camera with me, and was on my own so didn’t have too much else to do. The photos were all awful! But I had a great time doing it.
While I was going along, I happened to put my tent up next to an Austrian photographer who was doing a similar trip to me (Except that he had all sorts of cameras, lenses, and gear). We ended up going the same way for a bit, and he taught me along the way. When I got home, I bought a camera! Amazingly.. we still keep in contact to this day.
What do you draw creative inspiration from?
I draw great inspiration from movies, especially from directors like David Lynch, Wes Anderson, Nicholas Winding Refn and the cinematographer Roger Deakins. I love the way colour and visual language is used to emphasise or suggest themes.
What are your favourite photographers?
My favourite photographer is probably Todd Hido, because of the way he creates an atmosphere in his images. His most famous photos are of American suburban areas at night, which I love, as I am a big fan of making the mundane beautiful by use of an interpretive approach. Also Alec Soth, Dorothea Lange and Stephen Shore.
What feelings are you trying to conjure up through the images?
I take photos for a variety of different reasons! If I’m on holiday I get very excited and take lots of photos with a certain mood, sometimes I’ll take photos just to get out of the house and take my mind off of everything else. If I’m taking photos, that’s all I’m thinking about - so it’s kind of meditative in a way. Basically, it’s whatever I’m feeling at the time!
We have seen that you shoot on film occasionally, is there a specific reason for this?
Generally I like the way it looks, particularly colour film. One of the most convincing arguments for film is there is a bit more trust implied, as it is less easily manipulated. Mainly, I just like the way it looks. I’m also drawn to the mechanical nature of shooting on film, it’s very tactile and satisfying, all the clicks and mechanical sounds. I generally use whatever is best for the images I’m trying to create though.
How do you find Brighton as a creative community?
It can be intimidating at times, there are a lot of people doing a lot of exciting things, mostly better and more original than myself! However, it also means you are always meeting interesting new people, and there’s always something new to discover happening around you.
If you could live anywhere, where would you live?
I would like to live in Glasgow - maybe for a few months or so, it seems like a very interesting town like Brighton - lots going on. Anywhere in the world? Somewhere like Tokyo would be great to live in for the year, just because of how different it seems!
What is your perfect Sunday?
I get up and make some coffee. Morning coffee is very important on my days off, my favourite thing in the world. I have a bit of a mooch about, and slowly get ready to go out somewhere. Spend a nice day outside maybe taking photos, maybe not. Some nice food, listen to some music, then a movie maybe, I try not to trap myself in routine.
Do you plan your shoots or are they spontaneous?
When I’m out and about I usually mark places that I want to shoot later on my phone, then later I might work through this list when I have my camera. If I plan to go somewhere to shoot then I usually end up going off course anyway, I’m a bit like a dog - if I see something I like then I’ll go after it!
What are your favourite OQ frames?
Definitely Leighton. I’ve been wearing them for a year and everyone seems to love them! For sunnies - the Max in black for sure, they are exactly the frame I was waiting for.
What makes you enjoy Ollie Quinn?
Right from the start I’ve loved being able to influence the atmosphere and culture of the store. Because Brighton is quite separate from the London stores, that means it’s a bit more self contained and independent. It’s great being able to build your own team up - it can be difficult and challenging...but when you get it right it is incredibly rewarding.
You can find Matt's work at www.mattmaccourt.com