Acccepted: Matt Smith
I was nervous about checking the Participants List, sitting in my dimly lit office/bedroom/parent’s basement at 3am. The International Summer School of Photography webpage was up on my screen, the mouse hovering over the “Participants” menu. Only 73 photographers get accepted into this program to study from and work among the elite. Timidly, I clicked through and scrolled down to the workshop taught by internationally renown photographer Yurie Nagashima - Photography as a Subversive Tactic: Being the Other. A list of 12 accepted photographers followed.
Among them: Matthew Smith, United States.
Double-take, triple-take. “Wait, what?” No, there must be some sort of mistake. “What? No. Are you serious?” ....Matthew Smith.
The International Summer School of Photography in Kuldiga, Latvia is designed for professional photographers, students of photography and art, artists working with photography, focusing on concept rather than technique. The aim is to broaden the artistic and personal vision of participants and to encourage international exchange of ideas in photography.
The program offers 6 workshops taught by renown photography masters. This year’s classes will be hosted by Mark Steinmetz, Yurie Nagashima, Antonin Kratochvil, Simon Norfolk, Adrien Kelterborn, Rafal Milach and Ania Nalecka.
I am Matthew Smith and I am a participant of ISSP 2014.
When I learned about the program in August 2013, I was set on applying for the next year’s Summer School. Once applications were open, I got right to it. I poured over my college projects, looking for something of worth to submit for my portfolio. After two weeks of painstaking image review, bio writing and rewriting and rewriting, I pulled together 9 strong photographs to compliment my 1500 character essay on why I should be a part of such an intensive program.
I submitted photographs based on the jury, my chosen workshop, and my personal artistic vision.
Working in self-portraiture, portraiture, street photography, and mixed media, I use photography mostly as a means of nonverbal communication and personal enlightenment. I want to challenge my audience, I want to create something provocative, and I want to make a significant difference in the way people view the relationship between themselves, their peers, and the rest of the world.
In self-portraiture, I break the barrier between the audience and the camera. The audience gets a raw look at the subject without the concept of the photographer (the subject) clouding the atmosphere. This creates an intimate relationship between the subject and audience, stimulating emotional responses.
I try to focus on the strength my relationships - whether it be with the audience, friends, family, myself, or my imagination. As these relationships are tested by adversity, I document the individual journeys to better understand their tangible nature and to better understand myself.
I approach each photograph with the intent to study human behavior, interpersonal relationships, and the unique experience of individual perception. Can we trust what we see? Is it absolute? Why do we do the things we do?
I try to compare a sense of self to a sense of place by creating parallels between myself and my surroundings. Does environment dictate, and justify, behavior?
Photography is my way of keeping a grip on reality and on myself while also challenging my perception of reality.