What is your name and where are you from? Matt Leach. Originally from Birmingham (my studio is there) but living in Worcestershire now.
How long have you been taking pictures? I have been taking pictures since I was about 10 years old really but only shooting portraits in a studio for five and a half years now. I can remember this to the day as I had to cancel my first ever shoot due to my wife going into labor with my twins!
When did you get into photography and why? I’ve always loved photos and photography. I can remember starting when I was about 10/11 years old when I went on a school trip to York and excited about the B&W images I took. My father was an enthusiastic photographer who owned an SLR camera that I wasn't allowed to play with, which like any child made me fascinated by it. My mother always hoarded every photo taken and I loved (and still do) pawing through them, getting nostalgic. I still have all the boxes and boxes of the prints from when my parents passed away and love to get them out to study. Looking back I now realise that he was crap at it, I’d of loved to have had a chance to share our now mutual interest with him and teach him a few things, haha!
I have always wanted to be creative in some way but was too impatient to learn an instrument and rubbish at drawing, I’m also a technology addict and photography managed to bring all these things together I guess?
What would you say your style is and has it changed throughout the years? If so why? I've never felt that I've had a style although I’m constantly told I do. I love tightly cropped portraits that show emotion and pull you into the image, so I guess that would be my style, maybe with a hint of edgy sexiness (god, I hate describing myself, I sound like a pretentious idiot!). As for changing I have definitely simplified shoots. I used to use a three light set up and needed creative make up, nowadays I shoot mostly with a single light and concentrate more of the subjects raw emotion than the make-up.
How do you approach a shoot ? Do you pre plan or is it a click and run? I do both. Sometimes I like to control styling and make up, set up mood boards and have a vision. Other times I like to just rock up and capture the models personality without thinking too much. I think these are my favourite types as there is less expectation. On the pre-planned I always feel like I haven't achieved what’s in my head as I compare myself to photographers with huge budgets and exotic locations!
Is there an end goal you’re trying to achieve with your images, be it an aesthetic or story?
Not really unless we are shooting an editorial. I love quirky beauty and eccentric personalities. If I can capture that then I'm happy. I like to try and capture models in a different way than traditional and predictable images.
Do you have an influences you can share? Oh god so many! Instagram is a curse for this and I waste far too much time. I'm always finding new people that inspire me but at the moment I'm a big fan of Patrick Xiong and Billy Kidd.
What inspires you? Music (Album art), movies, TV. We're overloaded with fantastic imagery everywhere!
Is there such a thing as a bad photograph? There’s images I don't like but there is no wrong or right. If the person who took the image loves it then it's a great image. There’s only opinions.
Are you looking for a career in photography or are you just having fun?
I'd love to become a full time professional photographer but sadly my time has passed. I have a good lifestyle provided me by the rat race and unfortunately photography would never provide me the same income. If it was just my choice I think I'd choose to live in a shed and go pro but I have too many people that depend on me now. So for now it’s my escapism.
Which social media platforms do you use and why? Oh god, social media, the necessary evil. I'm on all the obvious channels Facebook and Instagram but I have a love hate relationship with it. As much as I’d like to quit it all I need the outlet to showcase my work and also find models/mua's to work with. I find it such a drain mentally though. There is so much negativity when something happens in the world and it's such an easy place to vent when realistically I don't need to share my problems on there! Recently I’ve tried to be less active and just use it when needed.
Which photographers do you mainly follow on social media? Far too many to mention you're probably better to look at my list on Instagram!
What are your thoughts on mobile photography versus DSLR/ mirrorless? I love using my iPhone to capture family memories. I don't think it will ever take the place for my portrait work but it’s great that I always have a camera on me where ever I am now!
What’s your main go to camera, lenses and how did you make that choice? I use a Nikon D800 and shoot mostly with the Sigma 28- 70 f2.8, I have a Tamron 105mm macro lens for close up beauty.
For my family projects I still use my D7000 and the 35mm f1.8 never comes off it.
There was no real thought process apart from the usual internet reviews and pricing. I tend to buy on impulse. I get an itch for new equipment every now and again. (That’s perfectly normal isn't it!)
What is your dream location to shoot at? Oh this is a tough one as I mostly shoot in the studio! I would love to do an authentic Californian vibe editorial or maybe a New York "Get Down' vibe? Can I choose a US tour or is that cheating!
Describe your favourite picture and how you captured it? Oh dear I'm useless at these interviews! I'm so critical of my own work and embarrassed to talk about it! I honestly don't think I can pick just one sorry!
In three words how would you describe your photography? Close, emotive, raw
How would you describe the current scene in photography? Hmm, I'm not sure it’s my place to comment on the current state of the industry. I’m not really qualified enough. I know a lot of professionals are feeling very downbeat about their profession being ruined by 'snappers' like me that do it for fun, but technology has evolved and become cheaper, you can’t blame people for starting an accessible pastime. Things change and you have to move with the times to survive. This isn't just photography, lots of industries have this problem and if you stay stuck in your old ways you will fail. I know lots of photographers that are making decent money and enjoy their job. I also think styles change and notice that a lot of the photographers complaining are still shooting images that look very dated in my opinion. That’s not what brands and editorials are looking for. Sometimes you have to stop looking for excuses and start looking at the way you’re doing things.
I love what I do and the more I have got involved the more amazing people I have metbut from a hobbyist perspective I have heard more and more grim stories. It is a strange hobby that does enable people to take advantage of/be inappropriate to models. I don't know if that is because it’s becoming more common or its just because I'm becoming more involved in the 'circuit'. This does bother me and sometimes puts me off shooting. I hate that every time I explain to someone I shoot model portraits, you get the reaction 'Oh yeah' and that look, like your some kind of pervert. It's a shame because when done respectfully it’s a great artistic outlet and way to get involved with amazing creatives!
How do you feel about better quality cameras being put into smart phones? I don't really think about it too much but I'm not going to complain about it. I can some great images already with my iPhone but if they can improve on that great!
What are your thoughts on expensive cameras? Do you think they create better images? People get far too hung up on equipment. Unfortunately we don't realise that till we've already spent a fortune upgrading. I love my D7000 and truth be told I probably didn't need the upgrade.
What’s a better image? People were taking amazing photos decades ago when cameras were far more basic! For me a great image is more about the content not the megapixels. I can't tell the difference between images I've taken on my D7000 to my D800. Good cameras are nice but they certainly aren't essential!