compagnon for Inspiration - Part 18: Matt Granger

Matt is a true legend among the Youtube photography gurus. If you want to find out about great equipment and how to use it in the best possible way, he's the one to listen to. Despite being an internationally sought-after tutor, teacher, reviewer, photographer and artist, he's taken some time off his busy schedule for us to meet for an interview. We're happy to welcome the newest compagnon Ambassador team member: Matt Granger

compagnon: Years and years ago, when you wanted to educate yourself about photography using Youtube, there was someone called ’That Nikon Guy’ from whom you could learn a lot. How did you decide to go that route and share your knowledge on Youtube? What has changed from your point of view since back then, almost a decade ago?

Matt Granger: Has it been that long? Wow! *laugh* Firstly, the [account] name - I looked at my equipment - saw lots of Nikon Logos and chose the name the same day I created the account. I filmed my first  video and put it live thinking - well maybe some Nikon users will follow me. The actual impetus to start the channel was quite naive. I was buying a bag online, and found a review and honestly thought: "HA! Someone has made a video about the bag. When I get mine, I will do one too."
That first video is still up and ... thankfully my product quality has improved a lot since then. What has changed? So much: I now live in New York, I spend half the year travelling each year, get to collaborate with fun and creative people - and thankfully, my bags are much more stylish and higher quality now.

compagnon: Some may not realize that you’re actually Australian rather than American and that you have spent a lot of time in Asia, too. What made you pick New York for your homebase? Besides having specific projects or jobs somewhere, how do you pick where to travel next?

Matt Granger: *laugh* Really? They must not have heard me speak then.. Most people can tell I am Australian. So, why New York? Because... it's New York. I love this city. There is no excuse for ever being bored or unmotivated here. There's so much energy and so many opportunities. The real challenge here is remembering to take downtime.
When I am choosing where to travel, it is usually a combination of factors. I have itchy feet and love travel (well, I love being somewhere new, the actual travel process is not so fun). Ideally, I head to a place I am keen to explore, where I can get some client work done, and also do research to set up a future photography tour. Fortunately this usually works out as the places that I, as a photographer, am interested in, are usually places prime for leading a tour. For example, I am currently working on Laos, Mongolia and Cuba."

compagnon: That sounds impressive. Your tours and workshops seem highly requested. Do you ever feel you teach more than you actually get to shoot for yourself? Are you ever concerned with your own style as a photographer? Do you ever miss doing more for yourself creatively or does it still work for you the way it did when you started?

Matt Granger: Great question - that is the difficulty people face in any industry where they are making their passion or hobby into a profession. At some level, the clients wishes become more important that your own. On my tours, my guests are my number 1 priority. My time is spent making sure THEY get the shot, that everything runs smoothly, that all the inevitable issues that pop up are dealt with carefully. If I have time to shoot as well, great, but that is not a priority on those trips. It is certainly true that my best shots from each country tend to come from my initial scouting trips when I am travelling around setting up the trip - where I can devote more time to getting the shot for myself. In terms of my style and creativity - yes it takes more effort now. I have to put aside time to shoot 'for me', rather than for YouTube, clients or promotions. I am working on some ongoing projects based around my personal passions, and I try to get in a couple of shoots each month for those.

compagnon: People have seen you doing nearly all kinds of photography (sports, portrait, landscape, wildlife…). Often combined with reviewing the recommendable kit for it along the way. Taking from the limited time you have for your own photography, which shoots do you enjoy the most?

Matt Granger: There are two answers to that question. Firstly, I still shoot art nudes regularly - but given how social media is, I cannot share any of that. I am currently working on two new book projects and an exhibition in this area. Secondly, I am something of an introvert - I need private time to recharge. So I really quite enjoy walking alone in a new area (usually a city), taking photos of the scenes, people or buildings that inspire me.

compagnon: One could guess you’ve reviewed and tested at least half of all cameras that were made in the last 10 years. In the early days you were somewhat tied to Nikon. Is your favorite camera to use, be it on a job or just for fun, also a Nikon? How hard is it to get you excited about new gear in the first place?

Matt Granger: I actually started with Kodak *laugh*. Instant cameras from my grandma. Then I learned on my dads Olympus SLR, and my first own 'real' camera was a Yashica SLR. When digital came I had a couple of Olympus DSLRs before moving to Nikon - and yes I am still primarily a Nikon Shooter. That said, I do have some Sony in the collection, and I still use my Hasselblad 503CW film camera, and have an X1D digital Hasselblad also for personal shooting.
Excitement - honestly I am still a tech head. My nickname growing up was 'Inspector Gadget' as I always had the latest phone or camera or ... whatever it was! So whilst I see the game more clearly, and can anticipate the timing, the audience reactions etc more clearly now, I do still enjoy the excitement of getting to know new features on equipment.

compagnon: With all that impressive gear know-how, your bag is certainly loaded exquisitely, no matter for what kind of shoot. We’d like to know if there is an item in your regular camera bag kit that is somewhat unusual. Something handy you like to use or something you carry for sentimental reasons, for good luck while hunting down that shot or something like that.

Matt Granger: Boring answer I am afraid: Nope! I pack the bag for each day or trip with what I will need. The only thing would be I try to carry business cards with me in each of my bags as I always forget to have some in my wallet.

compagnon: Speaking of business cards and building relations: You are a household name in the creative industry. Are there other photographers or creative artists that inspire you or have you look to their ability or work in appreciation?

Matt Granger: So many! Creative photographers, videographers, storytellers, strategic business people, and my students all inspire me. The last one may be one of the more surprising. But seeing my students, either at a face to face workshop, really getting the lesson and levelling up, or seeing someone online getting involved for a long time and their work evolving and improving is hugely inspiring. That maybe the best part of my work - I am regularly surrounded by creative, dynamic people and it is really motivating.

compagnon: That just confirms how you were really born to teach and lead others to their next levels. As you picked photography to do your work in, this has obviously led you meeting us today. We appreciate you took the time for this little chat, thank you so much. We wish you all the best for your upcoming projects and plans and as you seem very happy traveling and working with compagnon products, we're glad you're now part of our ambassador team, too. Take good care, Matt!

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