Mini interview – Matt Granger AKA ThatNikonGuy
So some of you may know that I will be doing a walking workshop in Tokyo with Matt, but I thought it might be nice for you to get to know a little bit more about the man behind ThatNikonGuy. Please note that some of the images in this post may be NSFW.
Hi Matt, so, who are you and what do you do?
I am a people photographer and photography teacher based in Sydney Australia. I am a total photography addict, have been since my early teens – so it was inevitable I would end up in photography. I am also very social and outgoing, and I come from a long line of teachers in my family – so no surprise I focussed on people, and also on teaching.
I specialise in nude portraiture and off camera flash, but I shoot with all lights and I also shoot events, and regular portraits on commission and for publication.
Where did ThatNikonGuy come from? How did you start?
I dreamt up the title ThatNikonGuy about two years ago – almost exactly. I wanted to make a one off bag review for youtube – I signed up, chose the name in an hour (thinking, well I use Nikon, it sounds a bit catchy, and some nikon users may watch it) and it just went from there by creating the ThatNikonGuy youtube channel. I actually own and use a bunch of different gear, and I started out with Olympus. I love using, reviewing and working with all gear – and welcome all users to the community.
The TNG community has grown with leaps and bounds – now with a couple of YouTube channels, www.thatnikonguy.com and a community forum… as well as all the usual social media outlets. The youtube channels get about 1.7 million hits a month, and I work with most of the photographic distributors to get access to gear for review and presenting on the channels.
To reinforce the fact that ThatNikonGuy is all about the love of shooting, learning and being creative (rather than just Nikon or gear itself), I took on the slogan ‘Get Your Gear Out‘ – which just reinforces that it doesn’t matter so much WHAT you own – it matters that you actually get out and use it like crazy. That is the way to develop your skills and improve your results and enjoyment of photography.
I hear you are coming to Japan, tell me more…
I LOVE JAPAN. I have been several times, including for my honeymoon a few years ago. Of all the places I visit, Japan is right up the top of the list for me. I love the people, the culture is fascinating and two of my biggest loves – camera tech and food – are all out of this world in Japan.
I am heading over for CP+ photofair in Yokohama. I will be doing reviews and interviews for my second youtube channel Photo News & Reviews.
Whilst in Tokyo I will be running an Intimate Portraiture nude photography workshop on 1 Feb and a fun Walking Workshop with the lovely and Talented Bellamy Hunt – maybe you have heard of him (er, I think so, he is a baldy, right?)? I will also be shooting for two books – the first is a series of everyday people (individuals & couples) nude in their own homes called Private Bodies – and the second is PROUD TO BE DIFFERENT – focussing on interesting subcultures.
Of course I will also be catching up with friends and eating my bodyweight in raw fish – I can’t wait!
What drives your passion?
It may sound corny, but nothing gives me the same rush as lining up a shot through the viewfinder, and the feeling you get as you press the shutter knowing you have just created something special. I love it – I am a total addict. Photography brings me so much pleasure, and it allows me to meet a breadth of fascinating people I would not have the opportunity to otherwise.
Back in University I studied film & television (as well as Economics – but that is a long and boring story). The film studies was focussed mainly on story telling and the cultural implications of film and imagery on society. That is a big passion of mine – beyond individuals, how is photography and photographers, and photographs, portrayed, seen and valued in society? And what impact can it have?
Perhaps from this film background I firmly believe there is a difference between a simple snapshot and an image that is creative. Creative – by definition – means it was created. I think every image you take is a story telling device – and in a way – a creative lie – as you can take ANY shot a million different ways. What you choose to include/exclude, how you frame it, expose it and all the other variables are CHOICES – and those choices tell us something about the photographer as well as presenting a particular version of an incident.
Sorry I rambled – my passion is people, and that click of the shutter.
I know you are a Nikon man, but do you secretly pine for anything else?
Yes, to be perfectly honest I regret the title ThatNikonGuy. People who know me well know that whilst I Love and value my gear, I am no fan boy. I am first to point out shortcomings of Nikon and sing the praises of everyone that deserves it. That said – my all time favourite camera (that I own) is the Nikon FE 35mm camera – just love it. High on my wish list are the Olympus OMD – great mirrorless – and the Leica Monochrom. If I can take any combo for a weekend trip around the city it is the Monochrom and the 50mm f0.95 – what a beast!
But I love all great gear, and I welcome everyone to get involved over at www.thatnikonguy.com – whether you use your camera phone, a point and shoot, a rangefinder, DSLR or anything! It is all about the love of photography.
How did you get started in photography?
Long family legacy. My grandparents were big time shooters. My grandmother would shoot a full roll of film per day – every day. There are boxes of olf negatives at their former home – too many to count. From there my father got the bug – and some of my oldest memories as a child are being ‘dragged’ from camera store to camera store on family holidays, looking for some rare Olympus glass or accessory.
I cannot recall my first camera – but It would have been an instant 35mm handed down from my grandmother – she seemed to get a new one every 6 months. I was always snapping – but it wasn’t until high school that I studied the history of photography and how to process film and prints in the darkroom. That is when I realised there was a story telling, and creative element to photography beyond just ‘documenting’ what is in front of you. I never looked back.
Where would you like to be 1 year from now?
That is a good question – things are going so well, where ever it is I will be happy. I have a great wife and family, I have a dream job teaching and shooting, and I travel regularly to present workshops. In March/April I am heading to USA, Cuba and Canada, and later in the year I have several other projects & trips on the drawing board.
2014 is sure to present just as much travel, just as much shooting and my goal will be to increase the number of workshops I run. It is so rewarding to see that moment when the penny drops and a student just ‘gets’ something – its the best feeling and always a privilege to witness. I run 2.5 day lighting workshops, and you can just see the acceleration of peoples creativity and ownership of their work sky rocket.
Are there any photographers that inspire you or influence your work?
So many. I have a book collection at home that rivals an art library. My wife and I are always picking up interesting photography books – from famous shooters – and from clearance bins. I think viewing others work is so valuable. So often you see something that blows your mind, and it can stimulate you to do something in a different way. It could start out emulating a technique, or head in a totally different direction.
In terms of lighting, flash work and teaching style – Joe McNally is a legend in my eyes. He is just the most lovely man – a real role model. In terms of portraiture and nudes – so so many, but one that springs to mind is fine art nude shooter in Sydney – Avi Ohana. Avi is just masterful in his crafting of flattering lighting set ups for his subjects – and is also a supremely genuine and down to earth guy. Funny that my style is quite different to his – but it is a big inspiration for me.
Do you have any upcoming projects or new pieces that you would like to share with the readers of JCH?
The workshops are a big one – you can check out http://thatnikonguy.com/workshops to see all the new workshops that are coming up. I have 4 or 5 in February, then USA and beyond.
I will be shooting for both books – Private Bodies and PROUD TO BE DIFFERENT – whilst travelling, as well as doing some private one on one teaching. I’d love to hear from anyone who would like to be included in either book or come to a workshop.
Also check out our Community Forum over at ThatNikonGuy – it is so welcoming. No angry fanboys or trolls (so far!) – just a load of people keen to help, share and learn together.
Any messages for the readers of JCH?
Just Get Your Gear Out & keep shooting! Be true to yourself and your vision and develop naturally. If you do what everyone else does, in the same way – you will end up with the same shots. Be yourself – if 99% of the world don’t dig your stuff and 1% LOVE it – well that is still about 70 million people and you are set.
Thanks to Matt for sharing his thoughts and his passion. I don’t think I need to add links as there are already plenty peppered throughout the piece.
Hope you can make it to our workshop in Tokyo, look forward to meeting you all.
Please remember that the images are reproduced with the kind permission of Matt Granger and may not be used or reproduced without permission.