Matthew Alexander seems to be the jack of all trades photographer. He shoots live music shows, portraiture, landscape and street work. His love for photography happened by accident and ever since he's been hooked. Testing out the new Diana Instant Square, Matt shared with us his first impressions and thoughts on the camera.
Welcome to the magazine Matt, can you introduce yourself a bit?
I’m Matthew Alexander currently based in the Hudson Valley but about to make a big move to Atlanta, Georgia – I do digital marketing by day, and photography at almost all other times!
What or Who made you get into photography
It’s actually a funny story – I was never really interested in photography, but I used to be in a band, so I’d hire photographers all the time, and in 2017 one of my friends’ bands (Never I – super tight band from Charlotte, check ‘em out!) was going on a 10 day tour, and I had just quit my job and wanted to go on an adventure, so they loaned me an old Nikon D50 and I started looking up YouTube videos on how to use the camera and the basics of photography, and when I left Charlotte, I spent the last of my savings on a bunch of camera gear and started branding myself as a photographer to help augment my digital marketing business.
You work a lot in low light settings photographing live music events, what has been your experience photographing with those settings?
Photographing low-light is so, so so annoying, but when you get a sick shot from a show, it’s the most rewarding experience. I shoot a lot of shows, and usually get 2000-3000 shots per show, and end up liking maybe 10. It’s incredibly difficult, and the pay is awful in comparison to portraits and weddings and all that, but I love music and love the culture behind the music scene, so you’ll always find me at shows anywhere I go. 10 people, 1000 people, doesn’t matter – I love it.
What draws you to film, what qualities does it possess that you're attracted to?
I initially wanted to get into film just because no one in Syracuse was doing it – when I started my photography, I was spending time where there weren’t a lot of photographers, and there was something magical about being able to get an instant moment that couldn’t be replaced. And when it comes to film, there’s so much more room for errors without it being perceived as a lack of skill. Errors end up being beautiful when it comes to film, and less so with digital. I guess the imperfection is attractive, because sometimes there’s some really cool mistakes that end up making a shot look incredible.
Have you worked with instant photography before? If so, what's been your experience? What do you like to shoot on instant film?
I actually have a Lomo’Instant and I use it on most of my shoots – It’s almost my calling card now. Unless I’m working for press, I shoot a show normally and then grab an instant shot and give it to the band to remember me by. It’s become a bit of a calling card now.
How'd you like shooting with the Diana Instant Square? What qualities did you enjoy about the camera?
I loved the Diana Instant Camera because the shots came out surprisingly smooth while still maintaining the dreamy Instagram-esque aesthetic that I love about the Lomo community.
Based on your experience with the camera, where do you see yourself using it? If you had to travel anywhere with The Diana Instant Square, where would it be and why?
I would probably replace my Lomo’Instant with it since the shots were a bit more deep and memorable, so pretty much anywhere outside a venue. But – I really want to go to the Yukon at the end of the summer, it’s always been a dream of mine since I read Calvin and Hobbes’ Yukon-Ho (even though it barely has anything to do with the Yukon) and I’ve been dying to make a photography trip out there. Take a few dozen 35mm canisters, some instax film, and a terabyte or so of memory with me, and just disconnect for a few days in the mountains.
If you had to pick a song or album to describe The Diana Instant Square, what would it be?
Oh man. I listen to a lot of music that is not very relevant to this, but I’m gonna say “The Jiggler” by Dance Gavin Dance because I think it’d be hilarious to publish that and also that song is loosely about cameras and also I love Dance Gavin Dance.
What advice would you give to new users of The Diana Instant Square?
New users should be prepared to lose a roll of film first and definitely buy film in bulk when you can get discounts on it – your first few shots on instant film might be awkward until you really figure it out, and then start making fun new mistakes that you can enjoy!