Matt Fry has been taking pictures for only a few years, but his photographs already have a stunning amount of depth and poetic introspection. Like angels trapped languidly in celluloid, Fry’s subjects are idols of film’s beautiful imperfection – overexposed, underexposed, light flares, polaroid tears and all. Fry, who is based in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, has perhaps found his calling with photography and, like an analog junkie holding on to a fading, beautiful dream, spends all his money on film. However, it might soon all be worth it. With fashion brands knocking on his door, Fry is a photographer on the rise. Pas Un Autre caught up with Fry for a very interesting tete-a-tete about his inspirations, aspirations and how he got into the photography racket in the first place. Read interview and see more photos after the jump.
PAS UN AUTRE: You said you have been shooting for only a couple of years – what brought you to photography?
MATT FRY: I started shooting in late 2009. I had a couple of tumblrs where I posted photography, and it was hard to find the style that I really liked. I decided, rather than just looking at photos, I wanted to create them, how I wanted them. I didn’t have the money for a good digital, and I was picky, so I researched the best camera/lens combo that I could get for the least amount of money. So I went out and bought a Yashica Electro 35 and started shooting. Shortly after, my friend Melanie was kind enough to pose for me. Turned out people really liked what I did. I haven’t stopped shooting since.
AUTRE: Can you remember the first image you ever took?
FRY: I can’t remember the specific image, but I do remember borrowing my mom’s Canon AE-1 when I was 10. My brother and I had just had just learned how to jump our brand new dirt bike. We were so excited with our little jump; I think we were getting maybe about 7 inches off the ground. After a few jumps, I ran inside and grabbed my mom’s camera. She loaded a roll for me and I went out and snapped a few shots of my brother hitting the “big” jump.
AUTRE: What goes through your mind when you look through the view finder?
FRY: That’s a good question. Sometimes I think about my shots; whether I want to frame them higher or lower, whether the light is hitting just right, whether I should bracket or not. Then I check my meter, and slowly set the focus, and wait till I see something I like. But every now and then, you just hit that point where everything is perfect. I can’t really describe it. Everything just works and I start snapping away, shot after shot. Nothing needs to be said because there’s this connection and somehow we both just know. I hit the end of the roll, and race for another camera that might have film. Then scramble to rip open the next box.. Times like that, I barely remember what I did once I’m done.
AUTRE: Who are some of your biggest inspirations or influences?
FRY: I don’t really have a big influence since I never really studied photography. I guess my biggest influence would be the cinema. I used to act, edit, and I directed a short film that I still haven’t finished post on. Because of directing and editing, I would watch films that I liked, and I would save screen shots of my favorite scenes. I would study how it was lit, the colors, the cuts, the wardrobe and the framing. I guess I would say my biggest influence is cinematographer Conrad Hall. I love how Conrad would light and frame a shot and the brilliance behind the psychology that completely told a story without a word being said.
AUTRE: You shoot all natural light and film – is there an aversion to digital and studio lighting?
FRY: I think a lot of that comes from the cinema as well. I really liked how Conrad would light by blowing out a window. Every shot he took was logical. You always new the source of the light, and it would be natural and gorgeous. Now I can’t afford to light like that, so I use the sun. I would however like to get some strobes to start working with, because I don’t like having to rely on a window. I think good lights would really set me free with my shoots.
As for digital, I want to like it. It would make my life much easier and keep more money in my wallet. Unfortunately every time I pick one up, it’s not what I want. There is just something about using film. It’s real and has a life of it’s own. To me, it’s like holding a book or using an ipad. They are both nice and serve their purpose, but you can’t compare the two. It comes down to what you like and what your priorities are. I just can’t bring myself to shoot digital. Hopefully one day I will find something I like with digital because every penny I have goes to film.
AUTRE: Whats next?
FRY: Seems like fashion is the next step. I’ve been working with Laura Sfez, the owner and designer of L’ecole des Femmes. She loves what I do and she let’s me do what I want and use the models that I like. I remarked to her the other day about how every one of the models I have used for her line have been 5’2″ or under. I love the freedom to not have to go with what is standard. I think my dream would be for fashion to be done with women of all types and sizes of women. There are so many beautiful girls out there with such character, why go with what everyone else uses.
Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper for Pas Un Autre. Visit Matt Fry’s website to view more of his photography.