See more of Matt's work on his website
Matt Odom interviewed by Virginie Kippelen.
Matt Odom is a commercial and editorial photographer who describes himself as a ‘simple photographer’, without extravagance. Besides shooting sports for his alma mater’s [Mercer University] athletics/marketing department, Matt shoots portraits and works for clients in and outside his hometown, in Macon, Georgia. We reached him by phone and asked him a few questions.
How did you get your start in photography?
I have been a commercial and editorial photographer for the last two full years, transitioning from wedding photography. I shot wedding photography for five years, but I got tired of the stress, I wanted something more relaxed. Most people think it is easier to do wedding photography than commercial photography, but this is not the case, you don’t have to deal with the bride! Trust me when I say that. [Laughs.] I also shoot sports, especially football. Before even being a photographer, I was a sports TV reporter and I have always been a sports fan. [Editor’s note: Matt coaches soccer.] For me, it is much more natural to shoot sports than anything else.
How is your life as a photographer in Macon? Who do you shoot for?
Macon is relatively interesting. Most of my clients are from out of town but one thing I notice is that the trade market here is starting to pick up and people are looking for good quality photography.
I think this is a perfect market for somebody who wants to start up. The market is not too big and not too small: It gives you room for growth, so when you do deal with clients out of Atlanta, even Savannah for instance, it’s much easier to deal with, especially if you are able to work with the constraints of being in a smaller city.
When people ask me where Macon is, I have to tell them, ‘Go look right at the middle of the map, if you have to go from Atlanta to Savannah, you have to go through Macon.’
I shoot for the Macon Telegraph and Macon Magazine, and recently I have done some work for ESPN3 and also for Georgia Trend Magazine. I also freelance for The Atlantan: Modern Luxury magazine.
How long have you been an ASMP member?
I became a member late last year. I was actually searching a lot, and a friend of mine in L.A., Seth Hancock, recommended that I became member of APA and ASMP. I checked out ASMP and I just thought that the information available was just spot on. It is such a great resource, especially for a photographer who does not know much about the business of commercial work.
Do you have any examples of how your connection with ASMP has helped your photography?
One example would be how to create a bill when you are dealing with a client. I shoot architecture sometimes. I had a client who asked me to shoot a building and I had no clue how to build the bill and put everything together. ASMP has a database which shows you how other photographers bill for their clients; it just gave me a nice template on how to create the estimate and also find the contract terms. I always refer the book [ASMP Professional Business Practices in Photography] to my ASMP guys around here; I consider it my photographer’s bible.
You submitted a B&W photo of a young swimmer with a disability for inclusion in the ASMP website. Why did you choose this picture in particular?
I actually submitted this image to an open photography contest for the ASMP NY ‘14. I did not think it would win, but it did place. I am not as extravagant as a lot of other commercial photographers; I am a simple photographer, and I consider myself a laid-back guy. I just try to take a simple approach to all the things I do. For that particular picture, I coached the young lady’s brother’s soccer team and a year or so ago, they found out that she had cancer. They [the doctors] had to turn her leg the opposite direction so that she could keep it until they got a brace prepared. At one point, her mom invited me to take pictures during her swim lessons and I agreed. I had my camera in the car with a speedlight and I took the picture. It just came out very good. It is one of my favorite images.
What projects are you working in right now?
I am thinking of doing a project with some kids here in the local school system. I am looking for kids reading at various locations. I have not started yet, it is a personal project that I will do when the fall gets here and it gets a little quiet. It is the slowest time for me and it allows for personal work.