Friday, 16 March 2012

Meeting Matt Stuart at the Arena Seminar

I’ve been closely involved in the running of the Arena seminar for several years now, and we’ve seen the event grow in popularity and stature to the point now when we are fortunate enough to secure lectures from some of the very practitioners of the art. The format is a day of three lectures, with the first from an Arena member and then two longer presentations from a couple of very well known guests. On the Saturday we host a hugely popular ‘print walk’ for all seminar participants, and there is plenty of time at meal times and in the bar to discuss photography. It is an exciting and stimulating weekend of photography. This year’s event was no exception, held last weekend.
Matt Stuart
Our first guest on this weekend was street photographer Matt Stuart. Matt has been making waves in street photography for some time now, and I’d strongly recommend that you visit his website for a few minutes to enjoy his work. Having seen his pictures you might well get the impression that he has a keen eye, a quick wit, is generous in spirit and able to charm his way in and out of most situations. And you would be right. In person he is funny, self deprecating, generous with advice, time and attention, and a tremendous speaker to boot.

Oxford Street - by Matt Stuart

Matt delivered a truly funny, informative and joyous romp through what it is to be a street photographer. So what did I learn? That you’ve got to keep smiling, be prepared to say something nice and make people comfortable near you. This clearly comes naturally to Matt, and is the polar opposite of Bruce Gilden, the famous NYC street shooter who is spectacularly rude and aggressive when taking pictures -see here . Matt stayed on after his lecture to talk with seminar guests and discuss their pictures and discuss technique.

Liverpool Street - by Matt Stuart
What else did I learn? Keep your elbows in, wear comfortable shoes and… go taking street pictures about 15 times a month! I’m not sure I’ve got the nerve or the eye these days to go taking street pictures these days, but I know I just don’t have the time. So I’ll just have to thank Matt for going out there and doing the work that I know I can’t do.

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