I was lucky to have the chance to interview Matt Harbicht. He's a lifestyle and portrait photographer based in Los Angels. It is nice to be able to ask a photographer a few questions.
How did you decide to pursue this path?
Photography was always something that was part of my life from a young age. I was a really shy kid and when I switched school districts in Jr High, my camera was how I introduced myself to people. It was my icebreaker. I can’t think of a time where I really saw myself doing anything else.
Could you describe a typical day for me?
Typical doesn’t usually describe my day. On non-shoot days, I usually make my family breakfast then work in the home office on new portfolios, promos, etc. On shoot or travel days, I’m awake before the sun comes up and home long after the family has gone to sleep.
What can someone in an entry-level position expect to be in two years?
In the same entry-level position, but making better pay and knowing more people. Once you get your foot in the door somewhere you have to create relationships and trust. Think of where you were when you started Brooks, Two years in you have more clout! Same thing goes here.
I know that you spent 16 years in the industry, but how did you start out?
I started out shooting for local publications and assisting La shooters while I was a second year student. I worked a couple of crappy restaurant jobs while I was in school and once I received my first photo paycheck I gave my two weeks notice and started pursuing shooting and assisting gigs. I didn’t turn down any opportunity. A fiend of mine was assisting a local shooter in SB during our 3rd year and he got fired. i called the photographer the next day and asked if he was looking for assistants. I worked full time trying to find people to work for and learn from. When I moved to LA, I did the same thing trying to find as many people to work for as possible. After a few months I was in with a handful of shooters and was eventually asked to take a full time first assistant and studio manager job with an ad shooter. i worked therefor 3 years before going out on my own shooting, teaching and assisting.
What type of personalities fit in best at your company?
Company is and isn’t, because my company is well, just me. The best fit for someone working with me is someone who can anticipate what I need without getting in my way. I tend to be really hands on with the gear when I shoot and I’ve had assistants try to take things out of my hands (not a good idea) while I am shooting. Ideally, I want to work with someone who is a problem solver. Someone who can speak up when it’s necessary but also knows when to keep quiet when clients are around.
What are the pros and cons of working in this industry right now?
I think the pro’s and con’s of the industry now are that the market is saturated with photographers with less experience and that makes those of us whom have been around for a decade or more have to work within parameters that constrain what we do. I don’t like to cut corners for budget and I really don’t care how many instagram followers I have. The pros are, that some of those young shooters from the Facebook generation are producing some really thought provoking work! It’s nice to see anyone young or old putting great imagery out there!
How does this job impact your life?
It impacts me everyday. My job fulfills my creative needs and I love what I do. It’s also the thing that takes me away from my family the most. Eventually you juggle your schedule (I won’t work on Halloween, my kid wants to be Darth Vader this year) and you hopefully find a balance in your professional live and your personal life.
Thanks Matt for your time.