Matt Klowskowski - My Story
I've never really told my story in a public venue like this and partially because the story's almost kind of still being written in my mind. It's not until now that I look at it and I can see back this chain of events that happened. So, I wanna, I'll start out really quick. How did I get into photography? I graduated a marketing degree. I sold construction equipment. I got a copy of Photoshop because I had to make fliers. I got into Photoshop. High school and college, I always had a film camera. Liked it, just kind of lost interest in it, never really did much after that. Fast forward to 2001, I'm good at Photoshop, my first son is being born and I'm like, I went to Best Buy and I got a Canon Rebel. So I'm like, I can know Photoshop. All this digital camera stuff's out now. I can do something with this. So that's when I got back into photography and then just kind of started writing articles. I guess I just like to teach, so I started writing free articles on the web and doing all kind...
s of stuff. And one thing led to another and I was able to get a job in the industry. So, I got a job back in 2004 at Kelby Media Group. This is where I think the story gets interesting and hopefully you guys can get something from it. So I'm at Kelby Media Group and you gotta imagine, it'd almost be like working here, right? You've got these photographer after photographer coming into the office every week to do classes and training and articles. And we go to Photoshop where we get to meet all these people. And one week there's a great wildlife photographer. The next week there's a great wedding photographer. Then next week there's an awesome fashion lighting photographer. The next week there's a great landscape, automotive, whatever. And what I found early in my career as I was starting to form as a photographer was I was going in every direction because I kept thinking I was missing something. I kept thinking, okay, I should do this. Okay, I should do this. And throughout the years, I shot weddings. I did a lot of portrait work. I did studio work. I did macro, like I did all these things and years ago it kind of just hit me. I need to figure out what kind of photographer I am because I'm really not happy. Like I said, I was missing that spark for a lot of things, but I felt like I should. So, one day I was talking to somebody and they're like, "Well, what do you like to shoot?" I'm like, "The shoots that really get me up in the morning, "literally get me up in the morning, is landscapes." I went to a couple landscape workshops to teach Photoshop. I had never really done a lot of landscape work, but I found myself like, it sounds stupid, but I found myself like not sleeping the night before very well because I was excited. So I was like that's really what gets me moving. My office had a stack of DVDs from people who did lighting that they'd just give me and they'd say, "Hey, check out my DVD." I'm like, "Okay," put it down in the thing. I never went and watched them and I always felt bad. So, I'm like, you know what, this is the space I'm gonna own. I'm gonna make my decision, like this is what I want to be. And once I did that, everything got frames around that. When I'd go on a trip, now I knew, rather than trying to look for a model to shoot somewhere, whatever like that, it's like I had a path. I had a path and I had some, okay, let me Google what's near San Francisco. Let me Google what's near Minneapolis. Whenever I went somewhere, I Googled it, found something to go shoot and it was at that point that I think my photography really started to improve as I got more serious about just figuring out who I was. The other thing is is it kind of took the heat off of me because I didn't feel bad anymore about not watching the lighting DVD, you know. So I'm like, the next time somebody said, "Hey, I got a lighting DVD," "I'm good. "It's great, I believe you. "You're an awesome photographer, "I just don't wanna watch it." But here's the next step. So the next step why I think, I think that I'm a good person to teach this for you is I can be real about this stuff and tell you guys I don't make my living as a photographer. At the end of the year, when I look at my finance analysis of where I made my money during the year, that much of it came from being a professional photographer. So, nobody hired to go to all those places that you see pictures of. Nobody hired me to go there and pay me a ton of money and say, "Go take pretty pictures. "Commission you to go take 'em, just give us your pictures." Nobody paid me to go do that. I went to those places for work or on my personal time, which meant I was either working or I was spending time away from my family, my friends, my kids, my home and I went and I did those things. So, I think that's important 'cause I think that's like most people that are watching this right now. I don't wanna tell you you're not gonna be able to make a career in landscape photography. If you want to, you'll be able to do it. We can talk about places that'll pay you to do some of this stuff, but it's gonna be a tough go and I think most people watching just love photography and are in the same boat as me and that's why I think I'm good for you guys is that we're leaving behind family, we're leaving behind kids, we're leaving behind our house, we have a job. When we leave to go shoot somewhere, that job's not being done. When I come over to go shoot somewhere, education is not being done somewhere on my website or something because I'm out shooting. So, hopefully, that kind of resonates with you guys as some of the situations that you're in. I don't have unlimited time. I don't have unlimited budget. Kind of on the same page that you guys are. So, it's a little bit about how I came to be here. I will be totally honest about it in that I make my money from education. I'm lucky enough that I get to shoot for that, so I don't wanna totally like... The deck is stacked in my favor, I won't lie, but still, I make my money from education. Don't be mistaken. I don't make my money from going out there and taking pictures of places.