We come across Korea-based photography blogs on Tumblr all the time but Dayv Mattt’s resonated with us more than others because of his superior pictures. His candid images, taken mostly on the streets of Seoul, manage to capture the vibrant feeling of so many different areas of the city. Read this interview with him to find out more about the man behind the camera and then head to his Tumblr to view a torrent of awesome, impromptu, and sometimes hilarious photography.
Chincha: Who is Dayv Mattt?
Dayv Mattt: The standard answer to this question is “Dayv Mattt is addicted to cursing, simple white dress shirts, and shooting street photography. Dayv is very handsome and currently lives in Seoul with his equally gorgeous wife.” I arrived in Seoul just before the World Cup in 2002. I’m no big fan of football, and fell asleep at the Turkey vs. Brazil match I excitedly wanted to see in Ulsan or Ilsan…I forget. Since then I’ve been shooting street, drinking a bit, smoking too much, and slowly falling more and more out of the loop with what the cool kids are listening to.
C: How long have you been into photography?
DM: I got into photography in high school. With the help of my Uncle I was able to setup a darkroom in my basement and slowly started to learn how to develop film and do prints. It wasn’t anything revolutionary. I shot standard issue boring shit. But then I started taking my camera with me when I went out to listen to phat bass at the Jungle parties. In university I kept shooting the Jungle stuff, but also got into some protest stuff and maintained my love of shooting the boring shit.
C: What do you shoot with?
DM: When I landed in Korea, I was shooting a Nikon F4. I loved that camera and used it for a long time before picking up a D1 on eBay for $400. Before the D1 I wasn’t much into street photography because shooting was expensive. Even though I’d go through 8 to 10 rolls at a jungle party back in Toronto, each shot was framed and I pretty much knew what I was going to get out of it. Developing at home helped too. In University, there too was a dark room I could use, so shooting wasn’t all that costly. In Korea it became a bit of a hassle, in my view, because I didn’t really think the pro-shops were giving much of a fuck how the rolls came out so I shot less and less. That all changed when I went digital because when you’ve got digital and a few memory cards kicking around, the sky is the limit. That’s when I started shooting 300-400 shots a day. Sadly, back then I wasn’t shooting RAW and so I’ve pretty much given up on what I took in those early years of street photography. After the D1 I used a D1x, D2, D2H, and just recently gave up on my D2X. In order to pay for a new body (I’d like the Nikon D3S), I’m printing a book of my photography. Hopefully I can sell them all and get back to shooting.
C: Can you tell us a little more about this book?
DM: I’ve put together a collection of street photography taken in Seoul from 2008 – 2011. The book is 84 pages and includes, what I think, is a really great collection of my work. One of the coolest aspects about this project was that it was almost entirely funded by my small group of dedicated online fans. They’re awesome and I could not have done it without them. The book will be printed soon and I’ll be busy shipping copies to all of them. Once that’s done, there will be more than enough copies for anyone else interested in owning it. Each book will be signed and numbered. More info on that can be found at dayvmattt.com.
C: Where’s your favourite place in Korea to shoot?
DM: I love shooting where I have never shot before, but I do find myself craving a session once in a while in the Myeong-dong – Insadong – Jong gak triangle. That place is full of surprises.
C: You have a lot of off-the-cuff street photography on your blog, as well as some very cool, slightly trippy pictures of namsan tower. Do you prefer shooting human subjects or inanimate objects?
DM: I totally prefer shooting candid human subjects. Inanimate objects are, in my opinion, a little boring. I don’t really care about light, texture, angles, and all that other stuff that some people really dig. There are exceptions, but for the most part, this whole trend of “awesome” inanimate object photography swirling around the internet these days is a bit tiresome. A fixie propped up against a wood fence is a fixie propped up against a wood fence, in my opinion.
C: So what do you think is the best candid picture you’ve ever taken?
DM: I’ve since lost two of my favourite photos. One was of MC Stevie Hyper D at a show in Toronto. It was his last show. He died the next day. The second was of a NYE party in 98. It didn’t really have any kind of significance other than it was of a dope guy by the dj booth with a giant furry hat on just soaking in the bass coming off of the stacks. The Hyper D shot was color (I didn’t shoot much color back then), and the dope dude was B&W. If I ever find the negs, I’ll be sure to put them online.
My next favourite picture would be of this dude I came across while exploring some alleys in Osaka. He was walking in front of me and then abruptly stopped, pulled out an electric shaver, and started shaving. It certainly doesn’t get the kind of attention I think it deserves, but that’s how it goes, I guess.
I really like this pic of a girl outside a restaurant in Busan playing with her mother’s scarf. There is something graceful about it and it think it came out just right. A moment captured and all that.
C: A slight subject change but one that’s relevant since you upload your images onto the www. Do you think technology and the internet are in cohorts to ruin the photography industry?
DM: Yes and no. I mean I think that technology and the internet are making photography much more widely available. This means that almost anyone can “be a photographer”; which is a big reason why I don’t really give a shit about other photographers. I just don’t have time to sift through all the fantastic, terrible, and sadly, mostly generic stuff out there. I might have been able to when I was younger, but not these days. I’m far too busy doing the laundry and worrying about other responsibilities in life.
It’s like the printing press. One could have easily said back then that “the printing press is in cohorts to ruin the publishing industry”. I guess to a select few scribes, that was true, but we’ve benefited far too much since that great invention to give a rat’s ass about those damn scribes! Can I get a HOOTY HOO?!?
However, I do feel that with all this new technology, and the speed with which pictures can be sent out there, that the potential for evil, hurtful, and perverted photographic endeavors makes it easy for someone to be evil, hurtful, and perverted from a distance. It is certainly a balance society is going to have to deal with, and sadly “street photography” has received a bit of a bad name recently in the media and from the public.
C: Finally, any Korean/ Korea-based photographers we should be looking out for?
DIGITRITUS – http://digitritus.tumblr.com/
All images courtesy of Dayv Mattt. Check out his website for information on him and his Tumblr for a stream of very cool photos. Oh, and don’t forget to ‘like’ him on Facebook to keep an eye on his work. AND BUY HIS BOOK.
Interview by Loren Cotter