Los Angeles is home to a plethora of artists and photographers, many of whom excel in crafting their own niche and expanding their focus and talents. Matt Clements (@mattclements) is one such individual - creating what evokes emotion within him and others. Each of his pictures create a narration of sorts in the viewer’s mind, effortlessly constructing characters and storylines. Matt is also an excellent study of Mextures and uses its adjustments to perfection. We couldn’t help but to try to find out more about Matt and what makes his artistic senses explode! Read along for an insider’s view into Matt’s work!
My name is Matthew Clements and I was born and raised in Indiana. I moved out here to the wonderful West Coast seven years ago. I currently live in Los Angeles with my beautiful wife who is my best friend and our dog named Butters.
Ever since I can remember I have loved the arts and expressing myself through that avenue. I've been a musician since I was 14 and I still love playing on stage. I think it started when I was a little kid and saw my favorite bands playing on TV - I thought about how amazing it would be to travel the world and play music for a living.
I first became attracted to photography in high school when a few of my friends were taking photography classes. All of the cameras and lenses and the gear were really enticing to me, but I never signed up for the classes, mainly because I was interested in music at the time and I thought I could only be good at one thing. Gotta love that high school wisdom right? Fast forward years later…. on one random night, my wife was talking with her step mom who thought that photography would be something we would really enjoy doing together. We spent some time talking it out and found ourselves investing in the gear we wanted within a few hours.
Once we got our goodies in hand I absolutely fell in love with it all. I began shooting in March of 2016 and became obsessed with photography and the editing process. It's all I did for a couple months. I am pretty sure my friends thought I fell off the earth because they never saw me during that time. I had tunnel vision. I made it a goal to shoot every day, putting what I was learning into practice.
Since then I've learned to relax, trust my gut, and enjoy the whole creative process.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY THAT KEEPS YOU HUNGRY TO LEARN AND TO GROW?
I think one of the biggest things that has kept me interested in photography is the creativity. It's so easy to snap a digital photo in today's day and age and put it up on social media and have interactions with people from all over the world. It's amazing how taking photos can really change the course of your future - job offers and interviews, meeting new people to collaborate with and creating something fun and unique, or having a new outlook on the world around you which so many of us have become accustomed to. The editing process is almost more important than the actual photo, in my opinion, because that's where all the magic happens. Don't get me wrong, you can't take a bad photo and edit it to make it look amazing, but you can have a great photo and edit it poorly and rob it of its potential. With that in mind, I think editing is where most of the fun happens. It really gives you that unlimited creative canvas to take what you see in your mind and put it on display for the world to see!
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?
That's a tough question because I feel like I'm still developing my style. My wife and I are usually talking about different ideas and things that inspire us throughout the week so when we get to our photo adventure day, we usually have plenty of things to work with and experiment with. We listen to a bunch of music and although our music tastes differ, we both love when lyrics inspire us. Sometimes when we are shooting we might do something more specific for it to line up with lyrics that inspire us that day. Though I'm still finding my style, I don't want to box myself into one category of photography. I think as of right now I am drawn to the dreamy, moody and whimsical side of it.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO CREATE MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE?
The adventure! I think so many of us get comfortable with our day in and day out routines that we never really explore new things. I like to grow, and for me getting out of my comfort zone is something I try to make happen as often as I can because I feel like that's where the most growth happens. Photography gives me a way to explore new places and ideas - whether it's taking the train to a new part of the city I've never been to or going to a spot I really like but trying all new ideas. That's what keeps it fresh and fun.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR WORK?
I don't think I am trying to communicate anything with my work. I'm honestly just having fun with it and I think I do my best work that way. If I get caught up in trying to be somebody I'm not or just doing what is "popular" then I think I'm missing the mark. Trends change and while it's fun to draw inspiration from that, I always want to come back to the simple question of 'do I love this photo?' If not, then I probably won't share it on social media.
I will say that if anything were to be communicated through my work, I hope that it would be inspiration. I love to be encouraged and I love to inspire other people. In regards to what I want viewers to take away from my work? Just enjoy it! Let it evoke emotions in you if it's strong enough to do that. After all, it's only a photo, and if I can use it to inspire other people and share a bit of my philosophy then it's a fun platform to have.
IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT MAKES AN IMAGE MEMORABLE?
Man that's a tough question... for me, the tones play a major part in whether or not a photo will be memorable. I think one of the biggest characteristics for it to have would be the ability to communicate a feeling through a still image. If a photo can give me a genuine feeling then I'm much more likely to remember it later on. With social media it's easy to see hundreds of images a day and to have one that can bring about an emotion in you is a rare thing in my opinion. It's kind of like when you hear a song and the lyrics speak to your soul, your whole body reacts to it. If I see a photograph that evokes emotions in me then I have found a memorable picture. Notice I didn't say it was an easy thing to do. Ha!
WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND TO BE YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN DEVELOPING YOUR WORK?
It seems like finding the time to do photography has been one of the most challenging things. My wife and I work full time right now, we have a dog, we have great friends to hang with. It can be a bit tricky to set time aside for it but we make it happen as often as possible! The editing process has been a bit of a challenge too because there really isn't a right or wrong way to edit, it's all personal preference. I'm always experimenting with new techniques and how to translate the image in my head onto a computer, but honestly, I look at the challenges as a way to grow and become better at my craft.
HOW DO YOU TYPICALLY APPROACH YOUR EDITING PROCESS?
It really just depends. I generally shoot underexposed, so when I begin editing I like to bump up the exposure, add some contrast, make it a bit more vibrant. It also depends on if I want the image to have a warmer or colder vibe to it. I try to keep my editing pretty simple but it is always fun to be creative and let my mind wander and see what I come up with. I would say overall though, I like to not have to edit too much. I would rather get my shot pretty close to how I want it and then do subtle tweaks later. That's when I go to Mextures - I love how I can quickly add a light leak or a bit of grit and grain. I do tend to use a light layer of radiance on almost all of my edits and using a few layers on top of each other really makes the photo pop!
DO YOU FEEL LIKE MEXTURES OFFERS ANYTHING UNIQUE TO YOUR EDITING PROCESS?
It definitely does. For me, it's super helpful because Mextures is so fast. I don't have to open up the image on my computer and add all these layers of sun flares, color adjustments and many other things. Once I get the tones I want for that particular photo, I can very quickly do the adjustments in the Mextures app. I think that's why formulas are a great feature because all I have to do is click one button and all my favorite presets are there.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE IMAGE TO CREATE SO FAR?
My favorite photo as of right now is the photo of the hand that is wrapped with lights reaching up into the dirt with sparks all over. It's my favorite because it was the last shot my wife and I did that night after we ran out of ideas. We were walking to our car to leave and then she just stopped and said, hey what if I reach into the earth and illuminate everything around my hand? So I snapped this photo of it, turned it upside down which brought this whole other element to it and just fell in love with it. It's very different compared to my other work in my opinion.
WHO ARE SOME OF THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE MOST INSPIRED YOUR OWN WORK?
I get inspired by so many people! Most of the time I'll be on Instagram scrolling through different hashtags and see something that inspires me but I'll put my own spin on it. I've learned everything by trial and error so I cant really say I've had any mentoring, and it's hard for me to give credit to one individual who has inspired my work because it's hard to say who the creator of that "style" was if that makes sense? It's more likely that they saw it somewhere and are now putting their spin on it, which is cool! I think that's a great thing and you can be very creative in doing that, and from there you can come up with your own style in and of itself!
I think @MoodyGrams and @LiveFolk always have great content. One of my favorite pages is called @ShotzDelight, they are awesome! @Mextures is always posting really fun stuff, @CreateCommune has some amazing content as well! I think the reason these accounts are great is simply because they post content that I find inspiring, and it pushes me to get better at photography.
See more of Matt’s fascinating imagery right here!