ThatNikonGuy, AKA Matt Granger, the Australian photographer well-known for his nude photography workshops, is back in Tokyo. We wanted to find out a little more about just what makes him click and how he has built such an impressive online following.
Here he talks us through some of what his photography workshops involve, talks a bit about the ‘scene’ in Tokyo and shares some fundamental principles and tips for getting out there and taking pictures – whatever your level and whatever camera/equipment you have.
Interview by Matthew Holmes
What led you to set up the website/your tutorials and workshops?
It was a natural progression really. I come from a long line of teachers in my family, and as the ThatNikonGuy community has taken off, I have been spending more and more time teaching online and face to face. I have been running one on one and small group workshops for some time, and I felt it was time to formalise it all into a structured program.
What do the workshops involve exactly?
I run a number of different workshops. Whilst in Tokyo I am running an intimate portraiture workshop and a walking workshop. The intimate portraiture workshop is 4 hours of intensive nude photography training – including lighting, posing, flattering angles and how to work with the model/subject. There are so many people interested in artist nude photography, but do not have the confidence, or know where to start. I am running that on Friday evening 6-10pm.
The walking workshop is focussed on street photography, including shooting scenes and atmospheric shots along with candid portraiture. This time around I am working with Bellamy Hunt (of Japan Camera Hunter fame), and we will be working together to walk the participants through a targeted program from 1-6pm on Saturday February 2nd.
Both courses are hands on – whilst theory & concepts are broken down and explained, and techniques demonstrated, all participants will learn by doing. They will leave with a camera full of great images, but more importantly a new set of skills they can take into their future shooting.
My flagship course is Take Control of the Light – a 2.5 day workshop where we go through ALL the facets of light. We focus on speedlights and portraiture – but the lessons apply to all photography. Once you learn to see and work with light, how to augment, shape, colour and overpower it – you really become in charge of the image making process rather than subjected to the prevailing conditions. I will be back to Tokyo late 2013 to run this program. Details will be updated at my website.
Why Tokyo? Can you tell us your impression of the photography/er ‘scene’ here – amongst what you know of both locals and foreigners?
I love Japan. This is my 5th visit – I had my honeymoon here and I just love coming back. I timed this trip to coincide with CP+ fair in Yokohama. I will be visiting the fair to report on new products and announcements. Whilst in town I wanted to run these workshops for the local enthusiasts, and I am also shooting for a couple of personal book projects too.
There is certainly a strong photography community here in Tokyo. I am just scratching the surface, but I see a lot of people out shooting which is great.
You say you will help people get the most out of the equipment they have – part of Get your Gear Out philosophy? – can you tell us a little more about this?
Everyone learns in their own way – but most of us will really take on board a new concept once you try, fail, trouble shoot and work out the solution hands on. That is why I took on that motto; it doesn’t matter if you are using a professional camera or your phone. If you take the time to practice, learn all of its features, refine your shooting approach and practice, you will improve dramatically. ThatNikonGuy – despite the name – is not about brand at all. It is a community of people who love making images – love the click of the shutter.
The whole ThatNikonGuy community, my teaching and all of my workshops are based on that principle. Bring whatever gear you have, I will help you get the most from it, develop your own style and set you on the path to creating unique and interesting images that you enjoy.
How do you feel about the vast amounts of money hobbyists seem to be willing to spend on camera equipment these days? Are you noticing any changing trends in the kind of kit people have?
Well, let’s face it – cameras are not just tools of professionals. They are technology, they are fashion and they are almost fetish items to some people. It doesn’t surprise me at all. I can understand why it frustrates some people to see expensive equipment being used just for playing around – but it is mainly jealousy. I mean if I won the lottery, I would by a Ferrari – and I don’t have racing driver training – I would probably leave it in ‘auto settings’ and just enjoy the ride.
I say if you have worked hard for your money, the gear and the shooting brings you enjoyment – go for it.
Do you get unwanted interest from ‘weirdos’ for the nude photography workshops – and is it easy to filter them out and make sure everyone is there for the right reasons?
Very very rarely. At the end of the day – appreciated nude photography does involve appreciating the naked human body. So where is the line? To be completely honest – if someone just wants to see someone nude for purely horny reasons – they can hire a prostitute for cheaper than my workshop; it is not a concern. Besides, I am a pretty big guy – if things ever got out of hand I think I can keep it under control!
What would your message be to aspiring amateurs who want to get involved in a slightly more serious way?
My motto for photography is the same for life: if you want to be something – a great photographer, a top student, a wealthy businessman – you just have to start putting in the hard work. Start taking it seriously – take your time, think about your shots, review your work and see what is working and what you can refine – and focus on developing your skills.
In terms of specific tips – pay attention to everything in the shot – not just the subject. What is in the background? What is the composition and light balance adding/subtracting from the shot. And once you have all the technical stuff under control – think about ‘what story do you want to tell with this image’. Photography is creative – an act of creation. It is not a simple ‘reflection of the truth’. So think of it as your creation, be conscious of what you are conveying and take control of the shot.
For more details and to sign up for one of Matt’s workshops, including the intimate portraiture and nude workshop on Friday Feb 1, see his site: www.thatnikonguy.com/workshops or take a look at the video, below.