Jono sat down with Explorer and adventure photographer Fin Matson to find out where is favourite place to shoot is and how he got into the photography game.
JT: So what’s your current camera set up?
FM: I’m currently shooting on the Sony a7iii. I bought his camera like two years ago. I have 70-200mm f4, Sigma 24mm f1.4, Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 which is similar to the 24-70mm from Sony. It’s just a little bit cheaper and lighter.
It sounds like you got the kit fully fleshed out now. If you had to name your favourite go-to lens, which one would you say and why?
I think it’s the 70-200. I bought that lens half a year ago. And I love it. Just the compression of it, there’s so much space to create great stuff. You can have a huge background and a person in front compressed together. I use it 80% of the time I shoot, I love it.
How did you start photography? Do you remember when you first began to take it seriously?
I was always kind of interested in photography but never really followed it. I always loved to take pictures with my phone when I was younger. In 2016 I started traveling through Asia. So I left Germany, went traveling there and straight after that, went to New Zealand on a working holiday visa.
During that time I obviously took way more pictures than before, cause I’m always in a different place. Then at some point in New Zealand, I bought my first used Canon camera. And that’s when I started to take it a little more seriously. At some point I started editing in Lightroom and Photoshop, and then everything started rolling.
I think New Zealand is a great place to start photography. I don’t know if you’ve been there?
I’ve been multiple times and I can safely say that it’s one of the most ridiculous places. It’s one of those places where anywhere you go, you look out the window and you’re like, ‘Oh, come on.’
It’s hard to not start photography there I think. But I never really got any jobs in New Zealand. Then when I came to Australia after one month I got my first jobs.
Would you say that New Zealand’s the most picturesque place or is there somewhere else you’ve been you think can top it?
Nah, for now New Zealand’s definitely my favorite place. But Switzerland and the areas of where I’m from, like South Germany are really beautiful as well. It’s just, when I used to live there, I wasn’t into photography so I never really shot there.
You’ve obviously got a few years of experience under your belt. Do you have any tips for anyone who’s starting out and trying to become a better outdoor photographer?
What definitely helped me the most was to shoot as much as I could. Shoot everything you see, everything you do, shoot everything. Even though you may not be motivated or not inspired.
I always try to turn it around and do an action first. And through that I get inspired and then motivated to shoot something else. If you’re not inspired to shoot the sunrise tomorrow morning, but you go down to the beach anyway, you’re probably going to find something nice to capture, like a surfer and then you’ll come back the next morning. I try not to get inspired first and then go shoot. I try to do it the other way around. It really helps you a lot, and you get shots you would have never imagined.
Another thing that’s really helped me is just chatting to other photographers. It’s something I didn’t do in the first one and a half years. I was kind of shy and didn’t really feel as though I was a photographer. I think that really helps to speak to other people, hang out with them, shoot together and learn new stuff. Try different lenses, share gear, that helps a lot as well.
I feel like there’s this preconceived notion that people don’t want to share how they’ve shot something or what they do. But pretty much everyone that I’ve met on the internet was more than happy to help, which I think is one of the cool things about the photography industry. People are actually willing to share if you just get to know them.
Yeah, it’s really important to ask questions, man. I didn’t do it at the beginning, so I know now, it’s smart to actually do it.
Shooting Moon Rise at Mungo National ParkPLAY VIDEO
Who’s one photographer that you follow or have seen that’s influenced your style, in the way you shoot or the way that you edit?
There is one guy, Kyle Vollaers his style is, wow. His editing style is literally like no one else on Instagram or that I know. It’s as special as he is. I really love it. And then there’s Alex Strohl. His shooting style and the person he is influenced me a lot. He loves shooting very simplistic photos.
So I’m doing this bit when I chat with photographers, where I scroll through their Instagram feed, come to the first photo they posted and get the story about that photo. And for you it’s one of, a sunrise or a sunset, you’re looking up at palm trees and you’re in Sri Lanka, with the caption ‘Dreamin’ and the hashtag travel. Love it. Do you remember that photo?
That’s true. I’m actually looking right now because I have no idea which photo it is.
Oh my god, how bad man.
Show’s the journey though.
Yeah you have to start at some point, right?
So it was Sri Lanka. I was flying from Bangkok to the Maldives and we had an eight hour stop over in Sri Lanka. So we took the opportunity to get out of the airport and go to the closest beach in Colombo, Sri Lanka. And I took that photo there. I think I took it with a GoPro or my phone. Back in the day it was more just to take a picture than what it turned out like in the end.
I mean at the end of the day, some of my favourite photos are the shittest photos. But they remind me of a specific time or place and it doesn’t really matter if they’re shit.
It’s always good to see those photos, to see where you’ve got to and come from. It’s always a good motivation for me to see what I shot a few years ago.
Yeah, definitely. I feel the exact same way. I love it, but I hate it.
What’s next for you? Obviously travel’s on hold, but have you got me exciting projects or trips that you’re planning on doing?
I’m supposed to be in South America right now. I actually had a two months trip planned to go and see Patagonia, Bolivia, Chile and Colombia, but obviously it got canceled. I actually moved out of my apartment and had my bags packed. But my flight got canceled like eight hours before. So as soon as everything is kind of calmed down, I’m going to do that trip. Going to meet a few nice photographers there as well.
Is there anything that you wish that you knew before you started taking photos for a living?
If it’s about business, pricing and all that type of stuff, it’s such a tough thing. I really messed that up at the beginning, I still mess it up sometimes. Especially when it comes to image licensing, you’re lost because there are no real answers on the internet. You pretty much have to ask someone. I wish I’d known earlier. I probably would’ve got more jobs and not get underpaid.
You went on a trip with Riparide to Mungo National Park and took that pretty stellar photo of the Defender with the moon rise. Can you tell us about that trip and how you got there?
A year ago, I got into shooting the full moon and I saw some photos from the Outback of moonrises and I really wanted to shoot that. I started researching and came across an article about the Mungo National Park and there was one comment below it saying, ‘a full moon rise in this national park will bring you to tears’.
It took like half a year until I got there, cause I wanted some composition, something in front. And then this gig with Riparide came along. And with the colour of the Defender, everything just fit perfectly. I got my friend Lorena, who’s a photographer as well and we went.
We only had the car for three days. The drive is pretty much 12 hours. And the car was manual and Lorena couldn’t drive manual. So I had to drive all the way. So we pretty much drove 1000km into Mungo National Park, shot the moonrise, slept for a few hours, shot the sunrise and drove all the way back to Sydney.
It was worth it. It’s a good story about how much is behind photos. Sometimes you really have to do a lot of effort, a lot of research. But it’s also what I love about photography. It’s not just the shot in the end. The research I did, the planning, thinking about it for almost half a year, until everything came together.
And did you cry though?
A little bit, maybe.
You shed a tear.
It was really stunning, seriously.