Matt Katzenberger is a visual artist and photographer living in Wichita, Kansas. Matt has been practicing photography since 2009, when they purchased their first DSLR camera. In this interview, we invited Matt to share the story behind their album of six Pride flag inspired images and how they hope people will share them.
Editor’s Note: We slightly adapted this installment of One Photo, 16 Questions and invited Matt to discuss their album of six photos, entitled Pride. Visit the album here.
1. Please introduce yourself. Who are you? What do you do? How long have you been into photography?
Hiya! I’m Matt! I’m a visual artist who specializes in photography, and I’ve been doing it since 2009! I had picked up a camera once or twice in my life before that, but the first real brush with photography came in the spring of 2009. I was on a trip with my mother and uncle to visit my grandfather in Florida and had taken a little point and shoot camera with me. While we were there we had stopped off in an electronics store and on a complete impulse I bought my first DSLR. That turned out to be one of the most significant decisions of my life.
2. In one sentence, please describe these images that you’ve created.
Bright, colorful, abstract macros representing some of the LGBT+ pride flags.
3. Why did you decide to create these images and this album?
I’ve always loved macro photography, especially in the more abstract, and I wanted to create something in that realm that also could be used to represent LGBT+ pride.
4. What style of photography would you describe this as and do you typically create images in this style?
I’d definitely call it abstract macro photography personally, but I feel like you could put most photographs into multiple categories.
5. When and where were these images created?
I was in my kitchen some time after midnight. I remember dealing with a bit of insomnia last year and deciding I might as well do something with the time I wasn’t going to be sleeping anyway.
6. Was anyone with you when you created these images? Did you collaborate with anyone?
Nope. 100% by myself. Having someone around to help would have…well, really helped!
7. What equipment (hardware and software) did you use?
I used a Canon EOS RP and the RF 35mm lens. The lens serves as a 0.5x macro, so it worked well for getting in close without losing out on all the colors in the backgrounds by getting in too close. I also used a tripod, a glass pan full of oil, water, and soap, and a tablet to provide the colors and backlighting.
8. How many attempts did it take to get these photos? How long did it take you to get ones that you were satisfied with?
I’m not sure exactly at this point, but I think I took over 100 shots to arrive at these six. I spent several hours working on it for sure.
9. What was your editing process for these photos?
The editing was honestly pretty minimal. I shoot in RAW so I needed to boost the color, clarity, and sharpness a little, but honestly I didn’t have to do much with these.
10. What encouraged you to share these photos on Flickr? Did you share them anywhere else (in a contest, a group, etc)?
I share most of my public work on Flickr. It was the first place I discovered online where I could share my photos with the world, and I still love it for that. Besides Flickr, I also share my work on Instagram and my personal portfolio website. I think I also tweeted out a link for this set.
11. Did you learn anything in the process of taking, editing, or sharing these photos?
I learned that placing a pan full of oily, soapy water over a tablet is anxiety inducing. I also learned that having a go-to setup for doing tabletop macro is a great idea. It’s a lot of work when you’re just winging it.
12. Do you remember what you had for breakfast the day you worked on this project?
Well, seeing as it was somewhere between 12 A.M. and 2 A.M., breakfast was a very long way off for me.
13. What would you like people to take away from these photos?
One of my best friends is using one of the images as her banner on Twitter, and honestly that makes me happier than anything else could. If people take away just a little bit of joy from these photos that’d be great! They’re meant to be bright, whimsy, and abstract; while also having just a little bit of meaning to them, and if that comes across to literally anyone then I’m happy!
14. Is there any feedback that you’d like to get on these images?
I’m definitely curious what kind of approach others would take to do this kind of photo, after the struggle I went through getting them myself. Beyond that though, I’d love to hear any feedback people have!
15. Your album description explains that you welcome others to download these images, use them as wallpaper, print them, etc. Have you seen any particularly creative uses of these images? Additionally, if anyone wants to use these images, how do you prefer they credit you for your work?
I’ve used a couple of them as wallpapers on my devices personally, and like I said one of my best friends is using one as her Twitter banner. Beyond that if anyone is using them they haven’t really told me. People are free to use them for wallpapers on their computers and phones, or banner images on social media, and definitely don’t need to credit me for that. If you do want to credit me though you can link back to my Flickr, Instagram, or personal website!
16. And more broadly speaking, how can anyone reading this support your work?
As much as I’d love the support, the best thing you can do is to support LGBT+ charities. The Trevor Project comes to mind, but there are many great charities out there that need all the help they can get. If you do still want to support me though you can visit my work on Flickr or Instagram. I also sell prints on my own website and definitely appreciate every single sale.
Note: Matt would like to credit @AnaCostco for the creation of the profile image that we’ve included in this interview as their headshot.