Chester May 2012 Day 1

Matt has been a professional photographer for well over twenty years, winning many awards, and being published in newspapers and magazines world-wide. He has been a fan of horse racing since his days as a school boy who used to go to his friend’s house every Saturday morning and spread out The Sporting Life on the floor to pick the winners for the days racing on TV, or better still, go to Haydock Park, Chester or Bangor-on-Dee for the day. Exciting times. It was a natural progression therefore, that at some point he would combine these two great passions. So, that’s how we got here.

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“I remember borrowing a totally manual, Zenit E camera from my uncle in 1979 and buying a roll of Ilford HP5. I had always been interested in photography and was in total awe of that camera as you had total control of how your images came out - you actually created the image. I used the roll to take some pictures at my Nan’s house, of her feeding some hens and various other shots. I have always been a control-freak of sorts, so I decided I would develop and print the film myself. I remembered my Grandad (from the other side of my family) had told me stories of how he developed film in his bathroom, so I sought his advice. Just at that time, a work colleague mentioned that he and his father were into photography, and that they had a darkroom. They invited me to have a go, and I didn’t need asking twice. The first print I made was one of the pictures of my Nan with the hens, and I was simultaneously thrilled and hooked on photography from that moment. Soon after, I found a local photographic association and joined. They ran competitions, and I entered my print. I could not believe it when it was judged the winner, my first “proper” image, my first print, and my first competition winner. Joining the Birkenhead Photographic Association was a great decision, I received loads of help and tips to help me improve on all aspects of my photography and was exceedingly lucky to have Mike McNamee FRPS, editor of Professional Image Maker magazine, take me under his wing. There is not much Mike doesn’t know about photography, sports photography in particular. I consider myself to be so lucky that I learned my skills in an era before cameras became all-singing, all-dancing electronic photocopying machines. By learning on very basic equipment, I had to learn the craft from beginning to end, it really helps to understand what photography is all about. Photography to me is not just about capturing a moment of light, it is about capturing the essence or spirit of the scene, it is about taking control of my image-making, and creating the image I want to capture by knowing my equipment as if it were part of me. I try to always shoot with the end result in mind, and work backwards.”

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