Matt Lara

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Currently showing posts tagged photography

  • I'm not an ideas person

    I have been making more of an effort to post more on this blog, even though I'm fairly certain few peopel read it. For some reason I am drawn to this process, trying to flesh out a more meaningful presence on the internet in an attempt to better share the million things I am about.

    Ideas have never come easily to me. In fact, I'm not sure if I've ever been an ideas person. I have a good friend who can think up something clever, funny, and interesting at the drop of a hat. I realized that I've becomg much more of an observer. I think that's why I enjoy street photography, and why people tend to hire me to shoot events in a photojournalistic style.

    I enjoy the spontaneity, and the thrill of finding a decent moment even in the most bland of situations. Waiting at the DMV becomes a chance to explore. I've been known to stop a number of times on a routine drive home to snap a few shots.

    So while I may not be bringing up any major new ideas in this space, you might see a number of everyday moments, some street photography, and maybe a few ideas explored.

  • Breaking Through Artifice

    I come from a musical theatre background. I'm still fairly obsessed with musicals, although I can't keep up with all of them like I used to. I've been fortunate enough to be in many local and professional shows, and I've seen many shows on Broadway. Like a lot of young theatre kids, I graduated with a BFA in Musical Theatre and spent a few years in New York City trying to break into show business as a dancer and singer. I didn't get very far, though I consider myself lucky to have been able to live in Manhattan just a few steps away from most of the auditions, shows, events, and nightlife I could ever want.

    Trying to become a professional musical theatre actor involves a level of artifice. You have to sort of construct this machine-like persona about you. You have to know your musical theatre skills--from tap dancing, to hip hop, to opperetta--and you have to know how to keep your wig on while leaping across the stage in high heels. You have to be in tip-top physical shape, and appear to be a ready-to-go powerhouse doing eight shows a week.

    Like I said, I didn't make it very far. I had fun, but found it impossible to keep up. Much of the actor's life is about appearing to be successful. You always want to be making it look like you're working on something, or wrapping up a big project, or signing with a big agency. Of course, that is rarely the case.

    Becoming a photographer has allowed me to work through that persona of artifice. Though my work is often commercial, it requires me to be an authentic person in the moment. The same with my journey with dance since my musical theatre days. I study contemporary dance now, which is still challenging, but often doesn't require you to push your body to the extremes that jazz, tap, and ballet do. I'm not forcing a giant plastered smile in contemporary, I am trying to find a grounded sense of movement.

    Both of these art forms have become conduits for my own self to show through without that machine man thing going on. I am slowly learning to break down the walls a bit--those walls that I thought I had to have in order to be a professional. I don't have to be a powerhouse at all times, though I still work hard. And there is authenticity in vulnerability. Bit by bit, I let down those facades that I spent so many years trying to uphold.

    I still dream of having that big musical theatre moment, but my photography and dance performances are still incredibly satiating for me. I encourage people to find that space because really, you can't rely on artifice forever. I've learned in life that people want at least a peek at the real you deep down. Discover it, nurture it, and find a way to let it come through.

  • Natural light portraits with Avalon

    Two portraits featuring professional model, Avalon Kip. Both of these were shot last spring in a large studio I was lucky to be in for a short time. This was all shot with natural light. The studio space had a big open garage door with a diffuser panel filtering out the coastal sunshine here in Los Angeles.

    Working with a model like Avalon was such a breeze that I almost didn't know what to do. I am more accustomed to working with actors and other content creators who have a hard time figuring out how to pose in a natural and comfortable way. Avalon was 100 percent comfortable in front of my camera and fully confident in trying endless poses and expressions.

    We aren't all full-time models, but since we all need photographs done at one point or another, we can learn a thing or two from those who are professional posers. There are some standard do's and dont's involved, but there are many ways that modeling can translate to the everyday person.

    I learned it myself as a fashion model in NYC. But more on that in a later post...

  • Summer starts early

    My summer started earlier than usual this year, in May. I got to head up to my usual place, a summer camp called Camp Bravo. I started at Camp Bravo back in high school because I was curious about this brand new theatre camp. Over the years the people there have become like family to me. Last week I got to go up for a camp alumni reunion over Memorial Day weekend. And, of course, I took some photos.

    I actually didn't get to take as many pictures as I would have liked. The weekend went by fast and I spent much of the time in the theatre workshops we had there. I managed to get a few workshop shots in there.

    Keep in mind this is a performing arts camp that's normally for middle and high school age kids. So we look really dorky remembering how to be theatre nerds again.

    Overall the weekend was a huge success with many different alumni from about 15 years of Camp Bravo. I'm excited to be back up at camp in a couple of weeks. I'll be working as a dance teacher during our normal program, but I'm hoping to take more photos.

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