We were treated to the photographic endeavors of Matthew K. Mayes, or Mojokiss in September of 2010. Now he’s given us a peek into his mind, with great pleasure, we share that glance with you. Read on intrepid cosmonauts.
What gear do you use?
Nikon Nikkormat FTN with 50mm Nikkor f2 lens
Rebel XT – the 8MP one, with the “18-55″ kit lens which is 28-80 or so normal I guess. I don’t have this camera anymore but I shot with just this for years like around 2006-2009
Nikon F5 – still using – with 14mm Rokinon lens and 85mm (1.4) Rokinon. Both of these lenses are great and give me no problems as all, but they are not auto focus. I want a Nikon D700. Oh and another lens I have is a fixed 135mm 2.8 cheapo. I had a 28mm imado but i gave it to my sister n law to use on her Nikon digital because her lens broke. I really hate that imado lens because it has the worse color for skin. Its fine for BW on the fly tho but I’ll never see it again. i give away a lot of cameras and such.
Hassleblad 500C and 2 older backs – both 120. It has the silver planar 2.8 Carl Zeiss lens. I’ve only just started using this
Mamiya C3 Pro. I’m not using this one any more because i got the Hassy now.
Minolta HiMatic7 – this is my favorite cheap old camera and is made in 1966 i believe. It is a 1.8 45mm rangefinder
HTC Evo – my phone.
I have some shots i did with one of the first argus 35mm’s. I have a few of those. I liked the quirky results.
Ciro35 – i like this camera it does very well. It’s a 35mm range finder with a very charming experience
Yashica TLR I forget what kind. It’s apart right now but did well for a while. It’s also got a chipped taking lens. Maybe i can switch that lens with the viewing lens, not sure, but it would be a half day of work to find all its parts and put it back in working shape.
I rebuilt most of my cameras myself. That’s how I afford to have them at all. I buy broken cameras, except for my Nikon F5 and Hasselblad 500C
Canon Sureshot WP-1 – this is a waterproof point and shoot 35mm with auto flash, film advance, etc but it is a modern automatic range finder. They were not cheap when new but mine was $5 on Ebay and has minor issues.
Kodak Pro Image 100
Kodak Ektar – 35mm and 120
Light: almost anything, nothing and everything. From bare flash, to 4′ softbox. I’ve never really used a perfect set up. I can go in a real studio and do ok but at home I use one light – a hanging softbox. I’ve found that size doesn’t matter too much but i have larger ones so the floor will be a bit lighter and the shadows a bit lighter and softer. The one i have now i love – its a 4′ Octobox and I have a very good but portable stand with a boomarm that i love. I just don’t have a place for it now, so I’m using mostly available light. i bring 6400k CFL bulbs with me to put in lamps sometimes, but these should never be mixed with daylight because the colors are a different tint and will look horrible. They are ok to use alone but never mixed with other lights. They are green, not blue and not white. They can be mixed with tungsten maybe – but I just wouldn’t take a chance. They’re find by themselves. I use cheap Ebay lights and I’m looking for a sponsor.
Can you tell us about your process, before during and after a shoot?
The best shots sneak up on me and surprise me and are unplanned basically. My favorite shots are things I couldn’t have planned. I can’t tell someone to do what’s in my mind because they are human and have a process going on and that’s hard to interrupt. If I’m doing some kind of shoot that requires a finished shot, location is the most important thing. I secure a location or a number of locations shortly before the shoot. Most of these shoots are just poor models or girls I felt like shooting, so we don’t have a budget, just our own creativity. Before I shoot I pack up my gear in my car, but more importantly i have screened my model to make sure she’s a cool chick (if its a girl) basically we both have to be very motivated but comfortable with the idea of a shoot, and I double check on the day how the weather is, my mood, her mood, I double check everything last minute and I cancel or postpone shoots all the time if I can, because a shoot has to be right. During the shoot I may start shooting before the model is ready – just to get some good shots – or I might sit around for an hour and maybe drink some booze and talk. It depends. I try to only shoot for about 15 minutes per look which is usually a half roll of film unless its an editorial then it’s usually more. After the shoot, I relax. I feel good but I hate tearing down lights and backdrops. I prefer hotels, available light, outside, etc. I really miss using a reflector though. If the model brings someone, I make them help a lot, and I thank them.
What editing software (if any) do you use?
CS5 – or whatever I can use in the Adobe family since I’m familiar with it. I would just as well let someone else edit my pics even though I can do it. i’m not set up to do white balancing. That’s my least favorite part, and I’m only now getting into printing my images so I’m having to look into this more. I also use the scanner software. I scan with an Epson Perfection Photo 4490.
How do you find your models?
It’s very hard and I don’t work at it hard enough. No good models want to shoot for free unless they are brand new and you catch them at the right time. I don’t pay models but I love getting models work and getting them paid for a gig. I think it’s a slow process finding good models. I’m always updating my methods, none of which work very well. I keep raising my standards or rather narrowing my standards for whom I’ll shoot, or what I want, so it’s almost impossible. My models have to be cool, down to earth, somewhat confident, fun, not too serious. This is what I want. I like models who can style themselves, and do it well. Just for one look, to shoot them as themselves. I used to use Myspace, ModelMayhem, but those days are gone. I think I have better luck on the streets when I see someone that would do well as my subject and I have asked, and it usually goes well! These are by far better models than what you’ll find online. I have a lot of theories about this. I think girls who want to be models, don’t usually make good models. Some do, these are the best models, but they are rare. A good street model is usually someone who has no idea they are modeling. The really new models think there is a method and so they freeze up and wait for direction. The experienced models are sometimes too formulated. The pro models know the secret. There is a list of body language emotions we all use, and a great models will do her homework, memorize this list, and practice it. Many emotions. Be able to feel them and express them.
What is the response you’re trying to trigger in your audience?
I want my audience to forget about me and see the image. i struggle with this a lot because most of my work has been focused on studies and looks like I’m trying to be something. All i’ve done is tried to learn thru studies. I think i may grow less famous for my style and more famous for my content. This would thrill me because i am a lifestylist not a photo-stylist.
How long have you been a photographer?
6 years. (it is now March 2011)
Tell us about yourself, what was your childhood like?
We moved a lot. My parents have never separated. I have 3 older brothers. Upper middle class family. I always had one best friend wherever I moved, and found security in that one friend. I’ve always been a clown more or less, joking always, getting in trouble, being absent minded. I was innocent mostly. I have a conservative upbringing. I grew up in the Suburbs mostly. I did get a polaroid when I was ten or so I do remember. If this counts, I’ve been shooting a lot longer than 6 years. I’m now 34. Oh, and I also started playing music at age 10. I’m a professional musician. I play violin, banjo, guitar, and some others. I’ve written many songs, been on tour a few times with bands, done some banjo competitions when I was younger, studio stuff and I sing obviously since I write songs.
What’s the coolest location you’ve ever shot?
Not much that I’ve enjoyed. I wish I could shoot in antique settings more. I think the best is yet to come but I’ll say I really liked shooting on the east side of the Mayport, Jacksonville, FL inlet where the shrimp boats are. Or near there – an even better spot is Big and Little Talbot island where the great big trees have fallen on the beach. I have not really gotten a chance to shoot there much. recently I also shot on some islands in FL and that is a great place to shoot. I’m still working on this. The models can be nude with no problem and the settings are very wild looking and rough.
Do you have any tattoos?
One my brother gave me in his house – just like a heartbeat line, and one megan massacre gave me of 12 black circles making one circle on my left palm.
Did you go to school for art?
No. I could use some journalism classes though I think.
How has your work developed/changed since you first started?
I’ve grown to hate my early work except for stuff I did outside of my studies. I never did enough just shooting randomly. I always had some formula I was working on. I used to spend a lot of time memorizing exposures. One of my first paid shoots was a DVD cover in Manhattan where we shot indoors and I had to use an umbrella with an off-camera hotshoe strobe and i had to calculate the power of the flash, the exposure compensation of the umbrella, and the distance of the subjects to be in proper exposure as well as get the low ambient light in exposure, using 35mm film and no light meter. It went well! My only problem was that my lens was so wide open that many of the important details weren’t always in focus. This is an important problem in shooting groups in low light.
Where/how do you see your work going/evolving/improving in the next few years?
I see it getting better in every way. I’m still fresh at all this because I always knew it would take me 5-10 years to accomplish greatness of any kind, even though I consider myself a sort of natural fast learner. I have always had to study hard at this. I read a lot of books and practiced a lot at photography. I’ve just never had the money to do what I want to do. You know, I got rid of my digital a few years ago and with no money and being evicted, set out on doing just film photography. its taken me ages. I’ve lost a lot of my shots, and this has been a setback at times. I honestly feel like a failure, but I have to keep standing, and moving on. I feel like I could have made a better impression on many people and been a better worker. but… I guess I wasn’t ready. Maybe I’m ready now, and maybe I’ll stop failing so much. That would be nice. It’s very hard to find your place as a photographer.
What’s next for you in the project pipeline?
I’ve hooked up with someone making books and i’m illustrating them. This is turning into a possible huge deal for me and I’m giving it all I have. It’s a lot of work. One book I am sorta helping out with is Glam Utopia and the one I’m heavily into illustrating at this point is 50 One Night Stands. I’m looking for models! you can always find me at http://www.onenotemedia.com or http://www.mojokiss.com
What is your favorite smell?
Sandalwood I suppose. I always keep a fresh batch with me. There are better smells, but its a good one and one that I actually keep around. I used to be into perfumology around the time I was starting film photography 6 years ago, but I sorta left all my oils to my ex gf when we broke up.