You could say that Mendoza has a instinctive eye for photography. Each shot is luminous, spacious, and brimming with color. It's as if he knows when the light will hit just right, to create the right emotions. His visual intuition is what drew us to his work, which deserves attention! Read his full interview below
Hi Matt, so great to have you featured on 107. Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into photography?
Thanks for having me!
I’ve been interested in pictures and cameras for as far back as I can recall. I remember being a kid and always trying to get my hands on the family camera or camcorder to document whatever nonsense I felt like wasting my parents’ film on! Even as a senior in high school, up until I was a freshman in college, I would use point and shoot cameras to try to take photos with really shallow depths of field. I was obsessed with the concept of bokeh. But up until that point, I had no idea that “bokeh” was the correct term or how to actually achieve the look. I knew nothing about cameras, lenses, aperture, focal lengths, etc. It wasn’t until I met a close friend of mine in college, who was a photographer, that I actually began to learn the art of photography.
My friend worked as a photographer for the school and thus had access to a professional DSLR. I remember the first time he showed me some of the photos he had taken with the camera, I was blown away by how pro the photos looked! One night, he was not going to be able to make it to an event where he was supposed to take pictures. He had taught me some things about operating the camera and how to take photos, so I gladly volunteered to cover for him. He reluctantly agreed in order to avoid getting fired, and that night I took my very first “professional” photos. He ended up dropping out of school and I eventually took over his position. I haven’t looked back since!
You describe yourself as a lifestyle and commercial photographer, what does that usually entail? How do you approach those shoots?
Well the short answer is that lifestyle photography clients are typically individuals who need photography services for personal use. Commercial clients are the exact opposite. These clients are usually businesses or brands who will use the photos for some sort of monetary gain. i.e. product shots, advertisements, album artwork, etc. My approach to either client is the same. Regardless of the type of client, my upmost priority is to tell their story — whatever that story may be. I want each photograph to be like a chapter within a really good book.
What has been your favorite or most successful series to date?
Working with Rick Soto, my good friend and owner of the Austin based fashion brand Soto&Co., has been extremely rewarding. Fashion photography is easily one of my favorite genres to work in and Rick has afforded me the opportunity to shoot that type of material while maintaining creative freedom. Rick actually landed a full page feature in the December 2016 issue of GQ magazine, and I had the opportunity to shoot the photos for that feature. To see my photo and name within the pages of a magazine like GQ is easily the coolest thing that has happened to me as a photographer, not to mention seeing a buddy get huge recognition that he most definitely deserves!
Is there anything else that happens behind the scene or that you consider goes beyond just pointing and shooting? Can you share that with us?
Definitely. When working with a lifestyle client, things like location, time of day, and clothing are super important. All these elements come together to form the concept of the shoot, so it’s crucial to plan these things in advance. Experienced models typically have an idea of what will look good and will make your job, as a photographer, much easier. Inexperienced models or clients usually require a bit more direction on the part of the photographer so it’s important to think about things like poses before the actual shoot. Commercial shoots are typically more streamlined when it comes to shooting products, for instance, because the business/brand often times has very specific requests which helps to keep the shoot consistent.
Is there any of your work that you love but haven’t shown anyone yet?
Currently, all the albums on my website are from the latter half of 2016. I sort of switched my style up a little bit and decided to rebrand and revamp. Most of the stuff I shoot doesn’t even end up on my site. A lot of it goes up on my Instagram page along with some of the outtakes from shoots that are on the site. I have a lot of projects planned for 2017 that will challenge me creatively. I am very much interested in filmmaking as well, so I’m excited to show the world the type of visual content I’m capable of creating.
How has Austin influenced your work?
My best work thus far has been created in Austin. I’ve really grown as an artist here. When I graduated from college in the DFW area, I wanted to go somewhere where there was a strong artistic culture. Austin seemed like the best option at the time. Everyone knows Austin as the “weird” city and/or as the music capitol of the world, but Austin is home to a lot of really creative people, who do a lot of different things, and make a lot of really great content. The easiest way to be creative is to surround yourself with other creative people who will challenge you to take your work to new levels. That’s exactly what has happened to me here. I’m not sure if Austin is where I’ll stay in the long term, but I definitely appreciate the growth that I’ve experienced since I’ve been here.
all images belong to Matt Mendoza