- What does visual peacemaking mean to you?
It’s hard to put in words. But I guess, visual peacemaking is using photography to break down stereotypes that lead to hate, mistrust, and suspicion that can all lead to violence. The biggest things that feed this is ignorance. If we can enlighten people to the fact that the world’s cultures are not so different at the core, then I think were doing a great job.
- What motivates you to be a peacemaker?
I think motivation for me has to come from my faith. At the risk of sounding super spiritual or like a kook, my faith underpins my core values and the way I see the world. Many of the core values of the Christian faith talk about the peace with all men insofar as it’s possible, be a peacemaker, blessed are the peacemakers, love one another, live in peace with all men and so on. I’m not fooling myself, I know Christians just like other faiths have been at the forefront of violence and war throughout history. But it shouldn’t be that way. It’s just the way that I see the world and I think my photography gives me an opportunity to be the peacemaker.
- Have you ever felt stereotyped?
Absolutely. I find myself stereotyped in my own culture and in foreign cultures alike. I’ve been stereotyped countless times. Every time I go to Thailand with my wife, who’s a Filipina, people think that I have a “girlfriend” from a Thai escort service. It’s very hard on my wife is pretty uncomfortable for me as well.
- How does your camera get you to reflect on your world and your life?
I think my camera makes me slow down. I have to observe more. I have to look carefully at the world around me. I have to look at the foreground, the mid-ground, and the background, and that makes me pay attention to life all around. But outside of that it’s not so much my camera itself as it is that my camera has caused me to travel. And by just traveling you’re more sensitive to the world around you. When you travel—by the mere fact that you’re visiting so many different places—you see the world differently. Then you realize you’re nothing special.
- What do you like to photograph best?
I think for most of us the answer to that is people. But I like people and photographs that show culture. And I’ve really been enjoying the medium of the photo essay lately. Adding audio to images has been really fun and gives a new depth to a series of photos.
- What technical aspect of photography do you find most challenging?
I’ll be real honest here. It’s a little embarrassing, but I have to say it is remembering all of the different ratios In focal length. Meaning, distance to your subject and f /stop, and the difference of focal length it can give you. I’m forever shooting at 1.2 to 1.8 and you think I’d remember that when you’re 3 feet away from the subject 3.5 works just fine. But I keep thinking I need to shoot at 1.2 and the only thing I get in focus is an eyelash. Like I said it is kind of a silly and amateurish mistake but one I do often.
- Is there a particular group you feel is misunderstood or stereotyped that you’d like to document common humanity amongst?
I think the people I most often photographed, for whatever reason are Muslims. I lived in Kashmir for 13 years and during the time I lived there it was about 99% Muslim. I think the West really misunderstands Islam and Muslims and use them often as terrorists at least as threatening. The reality is, Muslims can be some of the most endearing and kind people you’ll ever meet. I know many that would risk their life for me and I for them.
Matt Brandon has been shooting pictures since he was 10 years old with his father’s Cannonet QL rangefinder. 40 years later, he now collaborates with NGOs to tell their stories and to train their field staff to do the same. Well known as a photographer and international workshop instructor, Matts images have been used by clients such as Partner Aid International, NeighborWorks, the BBC, Honda Motor Corporation, and Bombadier Transport Corporation and others. His photographic pursuits have taken him to India, Indonesia, Thailand, Maldives, Philippines and Malaysia. Now based in Malaysia, Matt and his family have lived in Asia for much of the past 15 years. If you are looking for a photographer for your next assignment please give Matt a call or email him.
My Recent Activity
- I added: Our Shared Humanity
to Galleries on November 20, 2011
- I added: Matt Brandon on Visual Peacemaking
to Blog on February 07, 2011
- I added: The Prophet gave us a way.
to Documentaries on October 15, 2010
- I added: The Camel Market of Cairo
to Documentaries on August 01, 2010
- I added: Wasim, The Sari Maker of Varanasi
to Documentaries on July 23, 2010
- I added: The Last Songkok Hat Maker of Penang
to Documentaries on July 23, 2010
- I added: The Cheese Man of Kashmir
to Documentaries on July 23, 2010
- I added: Bangla Sahib Gurudwara: a place of rest in the heart of India
to Documentaries on July 22, 2010
- I added: A Photo Story Tutorial
to Photo Stories on July 20, 2010
- I added: Matt Brandon’s Portfolio
to Galleries on May 20, 2010
WHY HIRE ME?
Marketing your NGO or Non-Profit Organization is more than just a little difficult, plus your needs are unique. Your subjects are real people not models that you can move around and pose. Your subjects are more than a project, they are people living out their lives in front of you. You have invested in their lives and have spent long hours cultivating trust. You know their hopes and dreams because your people have spent years with them. These people have dignity. How do you obtain images for your organization without the risk of humiliating them — without exploiting them– without violating that trust?
I can help. I lived cross culturally in India for over 13 years, working and living among the poor and needy. I know the value a shepherd finds in his one lamb. I know how a child cares for his family’s buffalo. But even more important for you, I know how tenuous trust is and how hard it is to build. My photography is an extension of who I am and my own convictions. I want my images to honestly and beautifully tell the personal story of the people I am photographing. These people trust me with their dignity and I cannot betray them. If your organization has a need for images to communicate what you’re about–call me. Let’s talk about your image needs. Let me help you get the images your organization needs to tell its story, without compromising the dignity of your clients.
My commitment to you is to bring back images that tell your story; however complicated, however sensitive. These images will not only tell your story, but they will help bring in the funds so that you can keep helping the people you love and serve.
Email me: email@example.com
More stuff about me...
I am thrilled and proud to be sponsored by many leaders in the imaging industry. Follow the links to the websites for more information.