In this new interview series, we learn more about our instructors’ journey as photographers and teachers.
Tell us about your own journey as a photographer.
Like most photographers, my journey started as a kid. I remember my grandmother bought me a small Kodak 110 camera that had the film canisters that looked like old phone handsets. When I would visit her in Ohio, I would shoot a roll and then we’d go to the 1-hr photomat and eat ice cream while we waited for my photos.
In high school, I was a yearbook photographer/editor and darkroom manager. After high school, I didn’t pick up my camera with any seriousness until about 12 years ago when I quit my corporate job and moved across the country to California. From there, I just started shooting weddings and private events and after some success, I decided that this was a profession I wanted to pursue and to do so properly, I needed to focus on an education.
So, at the age of 30, I applied and was accepted to The Corcoran School of Art+Design at George Washington University (formerly The Corcoran College of Art+Design). After graduating, I moved back to California and started freelancing and working for a few PR firms here an there and a local paper for a little while, and now I’m 40, and finished my last year of my MFA Photography Program at Cal-State Northridge.
Please share a story or highlight from your time on one of our workshops
I came to Momenta as a student at the 2012 Project NOLA workshop and I had my first paradigm-shifting moment in photography during an edit with Momenta Instructor Eva Russo (who is brilliant and amazing); her edit caused me to rethink my entire approach to how I shoot.
Do you have a teaching pedagogy? Or a favorite teaching story?
Both, actually. My teaching pedagogy is similar to a Montessori pedagogy – let the student lead with their interest, curiosity, and creativity while I provide support and some direction so the learning process becomes collaborative between the two of us which allows for students to move at the pace they need to versus a regimented ‘you must do it like this because this is how it’s done and how you will do it forever’ approach. It also engenders a love of life-long learning.
I have a few favorite teaching stories, and they all have to do with seeing the student ‘get it’ and by that I don’t mean the lesson, I’m talking about that moment when a student unlocks an understanding in themselves that opens up this whole new way of thinking and looking at the world around them.
Sure, I love when a student puts together a great photo package or shows me a set of images that are just really fantastic, but when they reframe their thinking, that’s when it’s really magical because they take that and go out in the world with it and do something with it.
Can you tell us a bit about working with nonprofits as a photographer and an instructor for Momenta?
Nonprofits are such important additions to local communities. They identify a need or issue or problem and set out to fulfill and correct them and to me, that’s really noble and it’s an effort that should be lauded. I love working with them in a variety of capacities; specifically as applied to photography and Momenta, I love what images can do for the nonprofits.
The job of the nonprofits is to do the work they are supposed to and a lot of times, that means they’re not looking at or producing the visual collateral that can really help a nonprofits do what they do even better or help them attract more donors. A donor loves to be able to see what their money was used for and they love to show their friends the results of that as well. This, in turn, ends up getting more donors to the nonprofits. On top of all that, images help the nonprofit see themselves in a new way which can be very enriching.
What stories or issues are you most passionate about covering?
I’m passionate about a lot of issues, but I’d say that the overarching theme is equality and egalitarianism. I read and think a lot about race and gender inequality within our society, and my privilege and status as a cis-gendered gay white male, and what societal purchase that affords me and how I can use that to make space in the circles I have access to, for those who don’t have the same access.
Finally, would you please share a piece of advice or some wisdom with anyone interested in taking a Momenta workshop?
Come prepared to work and have an open mind, you’ll be surprised at what you learn and the new relationships you’ll have.
About Matt Rose
Matt Rose is an ex-Corporate suit, ex-Bartender, former United States Marine, Road Warrior, World Traveler, Image Maker, and Storyteller. His photographic goals are to change perspectives by documenting and adding to the human narrative. Matt is a graduate of The Corcoran College of Art+Design with a BFA in Photojournalism and a Master of Arts program at Cal-State Northridge with a focus on Photography/Photojournalism.
Matt’s clients include Ghost Group Media, Beacon Media, Momenta Creative, Viacom, ClockShop, OutFest, Associated Press, and Griffith Park Productions. Matt is currently working on a body of work about people and their fetish and is very close to achieving the perfect pie crust. Follow Matt on Instagram at @mattrosephotography.