• Matt Graves

Life behind the lens

What turned me from graveyard shift maintenance guy to passion hunting speed shooter!

It's easy to look at my images and say, "Well he knew it all along." But it's truly been a bumpy ride. I have to say first and foremost, I wouldn't have even gotten off the ground without the support of my amazing wife. So what did it take to become a photographer in this seemingly field of only female photographers?

“I was pretty good but I had this constant nagging sensation that I hadn't found my it.”

I could have been intimidated by the trends. Going in, I knew most male photographers quit or change direction. I wasn't about to quit and I've never been so sure of direction in my life!

I'm Not Just Some Guy with a Camera

I remember developing film in high school. The radio was blasting Smooth Jazz, the images were appearing as if by magic under the red lights submersed in tubs of chemicals. But there was something that stood out to me. I didn't want to leave. I knew this was my life.

It's funny that I would go off on following life's odd paths before coming back to photography. That's right! It WASN'T my #FirstLove. Well... it was, but we quickly became estranged. As I was seduced by the brilliance of music. I left my image making designs in the rear view mirror; guitar in hand. I found myself traveling the world in the US Army Bands. I think I was pretty good. #humblepie But I had this constant nagging sensation that I hadn't found my #it.

Do You See What I See?

I continued to (and somewhat still continue) to question whether I have what it takes to fulfill my promises to my increasingly sophisticated clients. I did the typical photographer thing... I offered family portraits and headshots, heck I even shot a few concerts. And they weren't AWFUL images, they just didn't move me. Occasionally, though, I'd have the opportunity to shoot boudoir or glamour. I felt like I was flying! And something even better... I felt like my images were more than just a photograph. They were individual pieces of art. Like capturing a single breath, showing it in a light only I see. Embracing that existence I found my way into boudoir.

I leapt with both feet and didn't ask for permission! I had no idea what a reality shock I would run into. Working on my craft and my process, I thought it was a level playing field. But the phone just wasn't ringing! I couldn't figure it out, I was WOWING my clients... the few on my calendar. But I wasn't getting off the ground.

I soon realized I was a man in a woman's world. Appreciating the gravity of that, I really stepped back and asked myself how it made me feel. Feeling like I was doing my best, learning quickly, offering killer work! But it just wasn't happening. I felt ignored. I felt unnoticed. And then it hit me. How had my own grandmother felt thirty years ago fighting to get into the medical profession as anything other than a nurse! My mother breaking into the psychology profession. Had I really been taking into consideration how the world made MY clients feel?

I see them come in as dressed up, made up, beautiful goddesses that grace me with their presence. But when you go home, does that change the growing pile of laundry or bills or toys along the stairs? In recognizing that inner struggle I set out to empower every woman I work with. To have HER time where not only are you celebrated for the amazing things you've done but also celebrated for the person you are! You rock! #girlpower

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