The week I welcome Vinicius Matos. Vinicius is an awesome wedding photographer from Brazil. He is super cool and definitely somebody who is taking wedding photography to the next level. He also teaches photography in Brazil and would like to teach photography in other countries in the future. We have become friends through the internet and one day I hope to photograph a wedding with Vinicius in Brazil.
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Well, I fell in love with photography in 2002 when I was 26 years old, after a nervous break down. The doctor encouraged me to find a hobby so I decided to get my first basic SLR camera (Rebel 2000). As soon as I got it I started shooting some close up and macro just for fun but some technical barriers prevented me to go to the next level. Then I decided to start studying photography in Brazil. At that time, I was in charge of the marketing in a big building company and I had to manage my career in business and marketing as well as being a photography student. Then I decided to open a franchising of a School of Photography in my city in Brazil, Belo Horizonte. A 2.5 million people in Brazilian southeast. I owned a school but I wasn’t a pro photographer. This is really funny isn’t it? The business started growing and I had to quit my job. At that time, it was a tough decision but I decided not to go on with my primary job and keep photography as my way of living. In 2005 I had a chance to photograph my first wedding. A foreign couple was about to get married in Brazil and decided to look for a photographer only 2 days before the wedding. A friend of mine referred me but I was quite nervous. Then my wife Ana just told me not to lose the opportunity since it was good money. After that night I never stopped shooting weddings. It’s all I want to do in photography right now. I just love doing it!
Where is home?
I live in Brazil, South America, in a city called Belo Horizonte, one of the biggest cities in our country. Its next to São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
If you could live anywhere on this awesome planet where would you build your dream home?
I would spend some time in places such as San Francisco, New Zealand, Scotland, and Tahiti and then come back home to die like eagles do. I love Brazil!
What is your current state of mind before we continue with the interview?
I’m really happy to be interviewed by you Crash since I’ve always been a fan of your interviews.
Did you go to school to study photography?
Well, I’ve attended some independent courses but I’ve never been in a formal school of photography. Today I have my own school here in Brazil, the biggest in our country. We already had 2400 students for 2009.
How long have you been a photographer?
I got my first camera 7 years ago but I become a professional photographer in 2005.
How long have you been a wedding photographer?
It’s been 4 years now.
What or who got you started in wedding photography?
Like I said in the first answer, it was an accident. A foreign couple from Switzerland came to get married in Brazil and found me. At that time I had never shot any weddings and my wife kind of forced me to do since it was good money.
How would you describe your style?
I don’t like to put labels and define myself as a PJ wedding photographer or as a traditional wedding photographer. I would say I like to understand the couple that hired me and start chasing emotion and feelings. I’m not so fond of posing photography but sometimes I cannot shoot without posing them. I’d rather be known as a wedding photographer that emphasizes feelings, the big day and that respects the style of the couple.
How many weddings do you average per year?
40 in 2008, 55 in 2009 and 40 in 2010 (I intend to spend more time with my family)
Do you have some wedding images you can share with us?
What type of cameras do you shoot with?
I use two Canon 5D Mark II's.
What is your favourite photography accessory, other than your camera?
I can’t make it without my LEDS.
If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?
I would pick out the Canon 35 mm 1.4 L
What lighting equipment do you take on a shoot?
Video lighting (Lowell light), LEDS (www.energia.tv) and 2 Flashes 580 EXII (Canon).
Can you describe how and when you use flash, video light, reflectors and natural light during a wedding?
I usually light the reception with LEDS. The ceremony is lit with 1 or 2 halogen video lights in tripods. I don’t like flashes but sometimes they are necessary.
What is your favourite computer/editing accessory, other than your computer?
My Apple 24" inch monitor
How important is Photoshop in your final images?
It is important, but I’m not a Photoshop addict! Great part of my post production workflow has been managed in Lightroom.
What is your most used Photoshop tool, plug-in, action set etc.?
Kubota and Marcus Bell’s actions.
Are you a MAC or PC lover?
Mac, absolutely! But I have both systems in the studio.
Do you plan on buying any new equipment and if so what do you have your eyes on?
Not now but as soon as the new cameras come with HIGHER ISOS I would be happy to get them since I’m an available light shooter in most cases. I'd like to have a 135mm f2 lens. Maybe in my next trip to the US since here in Brazil they are too expensive.
I finally feel I have mastered my Crash-Art workflow; can you briefly describe for the readers your photographic workflow after a wedding?
I first pick out 20-30 outstanding images that are edited in Adobe LR and Photoshop so we can post them on my blog. This happens 24 hours after the event so it causes impact since the couple is still talking about and feeling the big day. Usually the images are edited in Lightroom (color correction, white balance, under and overexposing adjustments) by my team and posted online in 15 days. After they feed us back with the images chosen we make the album design in 15 days and after approved all the images pass through fine adjustments in Photoshop. Usually we deliver the albums in 90 to 120 days after the wedding.
I use Queensberry albums, what wedding albums do you supply your clients with and do you design them yourself or outsource the design?
I use 2 local companies. Fotolab and Digipix. My design is not outsourced since its part of our core competence. We have 2 exclusive designers.
How do you feel about cropping an image?
I’d rather crop with my eyes when shooting but if I need to do it later, that wont be a problem.
I choose photographers for these interviews because their work really inspires me and gets my creative juices flowing, hence the interview. What gives you ideas and inspires you to create such amazing imagery?
People and love inspire me.
What has been your most memorable assignment and why?
I think my most memorable assignment is going to be my first international wedding in Argentina, Buenos Aires, on October 31st.
If you could shoot a wedding with another photographer who would it be and why?
Do you have an assistant/2nd shooter that accompanies you on wedding assignments?
Yes, not only a second shooter but also an assistant to take care of the light.
How many images do you average per wedding and how many do you usually present to your clients?
My team usually shoots 3000-4000 pictures during the whole wedding day but we normally present 800-1000 to our clients.
Where would be your dream destination wedding?
Tahiti, Bora Bora!
How do you make the bride and groom, bridal party etc… feel relaxed in front of your Canon 5D?
I usually try to act like I’m a good friend of theirs. Believe me, it works. Since I do not shoot very much posed stuff I just ask them to be themselves and rarely look at the camera. Sometimes I say something in order to provoke or make feelings happen faster and that’s it.
Have you ever had anything go wrong at a wedding and if so, how did you handle it?
Sure. That’s why we are not supposed to skip the pre-wedding step where we have time to double check equipments and plan things better. One day my 5D just stopped working while the bride was coming down the church aisle. Fortunately, I never shoot alone so my 2nd shooter took over.
What are your favourite three images you have shot recently? Can you describe their creation in regards to location, lighting, composition, camera settings etc, also your thoughts when creating the images and what they mean to you?
I’m always in love with my latest wedding pictures. The 3 images below were shot a couple of weeks ago during a Jewish wedding assignment in Brazil.
The bride was getting inside the reception main hall and I just felt like slowing down speed and get her dress blurred zooming in with my 16-35mm.
It was shot with my 24mm f 1.4, one of my favorite lens. This was lit with an off camera led and it really tells a lot about my work since I love shooting the receptions.
The big thing about this picture is that I asked the groom and his friends to form a circle while they were dancing to Jewish songs. They were moving really fast but I think, even if it’s blurred, I captured the mood of it. It’s all about attitude in this picture.
What do you feel is the most challenging thing about photographing weddings?
Well, we are not allowed to make big mistakes. This is what I consider the biggest challenge in our profession. We do not have a second chance.
What do you think of the wedding photography industry at the moment and where do you see it in 5 years from now?
Our industry keeps growing but I’ve seen a lot of new photographers getting in. I feel happy about it but at the same time I think they should know that being a wedding photographer. It's not just about owning good equipment. I intend to be shooting more destination weddings in 5 years from now since I love traveling so much.
A wedding photographer who inspires you?
It’s almost that time of year for a Vinícius Matos family portrait. Is there any photographer out there that you would be stoked to say – he/she took my portrait?
A website and/or blog you visit often?
The first photographer that comes to your mind and why?
The last workshop or seminar you attended and why?
Skip’s Summer School last week in Las Vegas. Because I think marketing is essential for success in business.
What photographic organizations do you belong to?
WPPI, ISPWP, AGWPA, WPJA
One way you market Vinícius Matos Photography?
My blog is my super star marketing tool. I used to post something interesting every single day, what makes me get an average of 5000 visitors/day. Now this blog is going to be in 3 languages (Portuguese, English and Spanish).
Do you advertise? If so where?
I advertise in 3 local magazines in Brazil where I’m based (São Paulo e Belo Horizonte).
How important is an awesome website for your business?
I book 50% of my weddings through my website/blog so I think they are quite important for my business.
If not a photographer, I would have liked to be a marine biologist studying the great white shark. What would you have been?
Also a biologist but working with gorillas in Africa.
I realize that each great photographer has a particular penchant or love for photographing a particular subject whether it be nature, portraits, sea or landscapes, shadow and light, etc. as a result I would love to have you talk about and share whatever images you feel appropriate of your own private obsession in the magical world of photography.
I wish I could have more time for my personal photography. I like photographing my daughter Julia but also infrared, landscapes and macro photography. I hope you like them.
Is there anybody or anything you would love to photograph?
I’d love to photograph a war. I know its quite dangerous but I would like to photograph in such conditions. It’s part of my adventure spirit.
When I was 2nd shooting I was picking everybody’s brain, I still am actually. That’s why I love these interviews so much. Every interview I learn something that makes me a better photographer. What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue wedding photography?
Give your best, always. Understand that there are some other ways of lighting than using flash. Treat your clients as big friends since they are your best sales force.
We know that each of us has someone or something, which inspires our life and work. Can you tell us the true basis of your inspiration?
I’ve try to live based on " what I do is what I get". It means that if I try to do my best not only professionally (with my students and couples) but to my family and friends I will get back the best they can offer me.
Is there anything you would have done differently during your photographic career?
Sure! I never had a chance to be someone’s assistant. I would be in a higher level if I had worked for someone in the industry. I encourage everyone that wants to be a photographer to work first as an assistant.
Name a photographer you would like to take a portrait of?
Sebastião Salgado. I’m proud that one of the most important photographers in the world is Brazilian. His work is amazing.
If you could be invisible for one day with your camera...
I would shoot one wedding without being noticed by the couple. That would be perfect!
I’ve learned the most from…
WPPI conferences for sure.
What talent would you most like to have?
I’d like to see the future. I’m an anxious guy!
Something you’re still learning?
I’m still learning English and Photography. I hope I will improve both of these skills in the near future.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My wife Ana and my daughter Julia.
What is your greatest fear?
Becoming blind. This fear started when I was 5 years old. That’s what my mom says. Now I know why!
Something that is overrated?
Gasoline in Brazil
Something you’re saving up for?
A new apartment
What item do you wish you had designed?
If you could have lunch with anyone who is famous who would it be?
Where you'll find me on a Friday night at 9 p.m.?
I usually go out with my wife on Friday nights. It’s part of our agreement since on Saturdays I’m shooting weddings.
Your favourite film (movie) of all time?
Who would play you in a film (movie) of your life?
I would like to see Jim Carey and Robin Williams as photographers. They can play me. It’s all about a good sense of humor, I think!
First thing you would do if you won the lottery?
I would build 2 new Photography Schools. One in Rio and another in São Paulo. I would also buy myself 2 or 3 DSLR Leicas with all the lenses.
Which five words would your friends use to describe you?
Fast, honest, stubborn, happy and dedicated.
What ambitions have you not yet achieved?
I’ve seen things coming fast to me in the last 2 years but I still want to take my workshops to some other places like Europe and North America and also want to dedicate part of my time to destination weddings outside Brazil.
What would you like to be doing in 5 years from now?
I’d like to shoot two weddings/month and teach wedding photography outside Brazil.
And the last question, if you had one wish...
I would like to see Brazil with no violence.
Oh one more, if someone said ‘how can I be the next Vinícius Matos?’ What would you say?
Don’t try to be someone else. Be yourself.
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