Ryan Mattis – Images Matter

BY PAUL ALLEN
Observer writer

Sunday, August 25, 2019

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His journey into photography was not clear cut but, even as a young professional working in information technology, Ryan Mattis knew his calling was to frame life through the arts.

The former systems administrator turn photographer says despite an early interest in computers, which led to his initial professional career, the creative arts were always his passion.

“Photography has always been my heart's desire, even though growing up, I wanted nothing more than to be working with and around computers. I come from a family filled with creatives. My mother did wedding decor for a number of years, and my aunt, sister and cousins were very good with their hands. They could all draw incredibly well but I couldn't; however, my mother knew I had a love for the arts and consistently gave me an outlet to explore my hobbies.”

It was this constant reassurance and encouragement that led Mattis to his passion for “creating memories” while attending Glenmuir High School in Clarendon. However, his interest in technology, Jamaica continued and led to his matriculation to the University of Technology where he earned a degree in information systems.

“Photography is a very expensive hobby to have but I was lucky enough to land a job as a systems administrator for a number of years (but) at some point I knew I had to take a chance on myself. My head was in IT, but my heart was still with the arts. While the 9-5 (job) fuelled my passion and covered my expenses, I used the opportunity to develop my skills.”

While transitioning into photography, which included the creation of ARRC Creative Media, a creative studio for photography and videography which he started with close friends in 2014, he discovered his love for commercial work.

“It wasn't until I started doing commercial jobs that I realised I was on the right path. I think anyone who decides to make the arts their career has an idea of where they want to be.

“British artist, activist and film-maker Banksy probably wanted to be the most recognised street artist in the world; the same concept applies here. I wanted to be known and recognised for doing commercial and advertising.”

“Photography put me on tour with Machel Montano. Photography placed me at the table with industry leaders. Photography has become my life and I wouldn't want it to be any other way,” Mattis indicated.

On working in an increasingly competitive field, he said he tries to set himself apart by being consistent, professional and detail-oriented. “I take the time out to understand and focus on what my clients' needs are by paying keen attention to their brand and applying my own interpretation to it. Photography, as an art has always been about the subject and not the photographer.”

When asked what keeps him going, he cites the challenges of running a business and the uncertainty that may come with being an entrepreneur. “You're taught in school to keep on the straight and narrow. Get good grades, graduate, get a job. To break away from the norm, the uncertainty of not knowing where your next pay cheque is going to come from, the reality that it can all disappear in an instant, keeps me highly motivated. Creating timeless memories, no matter the format or medium it is presented in, meeting new people and developing long-standing relationships with industry leaders to help me become a better professional fuels my passion.”

Of his achievements, undertaking the challenge of automotive photography and being able to produce high quality content, comparable to those used here but submitted by overseas agencies, tops his list. “(It's) one of the most difficult and highly demanding areas of commercial photography in the world and while there's nothing wrong with the content that was being provided, I wanted to offer a fresh perspective in the automotive landscape. Relatable, immediately recognised, Jamaican-made content.”

As for advice that he offers to anyone contemplating entering the field, Mattis shared: “Whatever tool you have at your disposal, use it to the maximum of its capabilities (even if it's your phone). You don't need fancy equipment to get the job done. I spent a number of years shooting with mobile phones, long before I was able to purchase a camera. Spend time understanding and developing your craft, know what your limitations are and surpass them, don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions and when all else fails, find a mentor. You're always learning. Photography has no limitations, why should you?”


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