We had the good fortune of connecting with Matthew Norton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Matthew, how do you think about risk?
Life is nothing without risks. If one does not take a risk, the reward is almost certain to be minimal. People often think of risks as large opportunities made for oneself where success doesn’t seem highly probable. I think of risks as opportunities that continually enter my mind as possible outcomes. If I choose not to take them, I am doing myself a disservice. Why wait 15 years to ask myself, “What if?” All I need to do now is be willing to endure embarrassment and heartache. Both of which are repeatedly endured by people throughout life anyway. My advice is to take that opportunity, pitch your concept to that company, contact that agency, book that flight. Let your risks be the answer to your “what ifs”.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As a creative, I see things differently than others. Where a friend of mine might simply see a wall, I see a canvas. The only question in my mind is how I will fill that canvas. My aim with every photoshoot is to step away from the norm. In many ways, you could say I do not create for anybody but myself. There are times when I am hired for a specific look or project to which I slightly adapt my style or vision. It is safe to say that those situations are not necessarily creative endeavors of mine, but rather ways to practice client fulfillment. I have heard it said by different creatives and professionals that they do not wish their struggles on anybody. This is not a sentiment with which I tend to agree. If an individual desires to enter a realm of creativity that involves the cooperation of other individuals, they should be faced with issues. Nobody grows to success without entering into and rising out of struggle. The countless rude clients I have had got me to where I am now. The not-so-easy to direct collaborators are what taught me to be more creative and witty during my photoshoots. All of the struggles that I have endured in this season of my life were absolutely necessary. I would wish them on everybody. The brand I have established for myself is one that encourages personality. If I compare the work of 400 USA-based photographers, I would likely see 25-50 that look nearly identical. I have no desire to be known for your photography style when I can put in the work to create my own. The hope I have is that when somebody sees my work, they recognize it. I want people to know that my work, though it may not consist of the most compelling images in the world, is an extension of my own personality.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
In the case of my friend visiting Dallas, TX, we would have to spend plenty of time sitting down for the sake of conversation. I am an extrovert through and through. That means we would share many meals and walks around my favorite spots. The first place we would visit is a coffee shop located on Davis Street near the Bishop Arts District. This is by far one of my favorite places for conversation and a good iced vanilla latte. Though I am not a coffee connoisseur by any means, I have yet to find a better iced coffee than what I get at Wayward Coffee. After spending a few hours chatting over a drink, I would take my friend to a wing spot in DeSoto, TX called Sirg Wings n’ More. I assure you they have the best hot wings in DFW. After we have filled our bellies with chicken, I would take them for a walk around the city of Dallas. In my opinion, the most urban parts of Downtown Dallas are the best. My reasoning is that there is much to see in the details of what once existed. Exposed brick, road trash and spray paint contain some incredible history. Have you ever stopped to speak with the homeless persons in your city about what they have witnessed on the streets? The stories are jaw-dropping. If you are ever in need of perspective, which we all are, I suggest doing this. My friend would obviously need to visit places such as the Reunion Tower, Deep Ellum and the massive eyeball on Main St. For dinner, I would take them to a place in Bishop Arts District called Tejas. It is a fairly new Tex-Mex restaurant that I adore. The food is packed full of flavor, with generous portions. We would then take a drive out to a place only my wife and I know about called City Sundown. It is the most incredible, hilltop view of the city I have seen. The only view that it couldn’t compare to is one from the top of some of Dallas’ tallest structures. I understand this may not sound like the most fun experience a person could have. Remember, as I established early on, I am an extrovert. Conversation is what matter the most to me.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
When I was a teenager, my mentor advised that I read Stephen Covey’s book titled, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. It has been nearly a decade since I initially read that book but there are definitely remnants of the author’s principles at work in my life. I think understanding success at an early age allowed me to recognize what I would like to attain for myself. I am not looking to have a massive following or make an abundance of money from my craft as a photographer. At least not in this season of my life. I do, however, desire to make genuine connections and preserve gorgeous images while on this journey. I did not begin my photography career until after I met my wife, Hanna. A large part of my growth as a creative is because of her encouragement and support. I have tried many things and failed many things. In our history together, she has not discouraged me from pursuing content creation. She has been a strong tower for me when I feel insecure about the edits I make to my photos due to color-blindness and when I, quite honestly, had no idea how to compose a photo. This is precisely why she deserves just as much recognition as I do. Thank you, Hanna.
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