Interview by { Dean Derby

Photography by { John Russo

Shot on location at { W Los Angeles

Styling by { Jennifer Austin – Opus Beauty

Jacket and t-shirt – Luck Brand

Suit and shirt – Paisley and Gray

Shoes – Kenneth Cole

 

Crushing fears and insecurities, teaching the importance of self-worth, and helping others embrace their identity, are among the many things Matt Mathews accomplishes as a boudoir photographer, author, and motivational speaker. Born and based in Birmingham, Alabama, Matt captures his subjects at their moments of emotional freedom, taking their extreme vulnerability and marrying it with the empowerment that translates beautifully in photographs. I sat down with this southern charm to get a better understanding of the world he lives in and how he became inspired to help others welcome their true authentic selves.

How did you begin your career in photography? Has it always been your calling?

Photography was definitely not my passion or what I planned to do with my life. As a child, I always wanted to be a singer but as I grew older, I wanted to follow in my mother’s footsteps in becoming a nurse. When I was 17-years-old, I got a job at Wal-Mart portrait studio and kind of fell in love with it. I started shooting weddings and pretty much everything in order to make a little extra money. After high school, I was accepted into nursing school only to realize that I hated it. I quit school and decided to make photography my full time job. Luckily, it worked out for me and landed me onto this incredible platform I have today. 

What was your inspiration for starting a boudoir photography business?

I’ve always struggled with my body image. I never thought I was cute enough and refused to take my shirt off as a kid and teenger. As I grew older, I saw the same insecurities that I had with everyone that I met. My mother suffered with extreme depression and self-esteem issues. In 2014, I photographed a boudoir session and she told me for the first time in a long time she actually felt beautiful. A year later, she suddenly passed away and I knew that creating images for women to love and feel good about themselves was something I was called to do. 

What is your overall mission when it comes to these sessions with your clients?

My mission is to show everyone that no matter what they think of themselves, there is always beauty within them. Loving yourself is the greatest middle finger of all time. I want people to know their worth, to accept who they are, to accept the skin they’re in, and to be happy with that. 

One thing that you do with your clients are big reveal sessions when the photos are completed. How does it make you feel seeing their reactions?

The photo reveals are my favorite part. Seeing my clients light up when they see these final images of themselves brings me so much joy and is a constant reminder of why I do this. 

In your self-help memoir “Uncovered: The Naked Truth of Life, Love and Addiction” you talk about the unfortunate cycle of addiction as well as sharing your experiences as a gay person in Alabama. How did it make you feel seeing your fans relate so much to your story?

It was a humbling moment, for sure! I’ve received so many messages and positive feedback from fans about the book. My goal for writing this book was to show everyone that they can follow their dreams. I wanted to inspire people and knowing that I’ve helped so many push forward with their goals makes it all worth it. 

You also live on a farm with a stable, chicken coops, a donkey, goats, and pet opossums. What do your mornings look like?

Whewww, child… mornings are rough. The first thing I do is make a pot of coffee every morning then feed my two dogs and head to the barn. Then from there, it’s usually a fight with the donkey and horses. I get all four horses and the donkey fed, the stalls cleaned, and then head back inside to get ready for work. Once I am off work and back home, I do it all over again. In addition to that, I also take care of the opossums at night. They are nocturnal which causes them to be fed at night. It’s a lot of hard work living on a farm but it keeps me sane and brings me so much joy. 

How does life on a farm help you balance out your crazy work life?   

Between running the studio, traveling for events, and holding workshops gets exhausting. The farm helps keep me grounded. It’s my escape from all of the hustle I do during the day. My weekends are usually spent with my horses at a barrel race or just simply spending time with them. I think no matter what you do in life, you need something to decompress. Burnout is real and can happen no matter how much you love your job so you must always remember to take time for yourself.

In addition to running your own farm, a bustling photography business, and other ventures, you also have a podcast. What kind of content can people expect to listen to?

My podcast is very much about life, love and all the B.S. that goes on in between.  It’s called “Real Talk” where we literally discuss all the things that most people shy away from.

When watching your stories on Instagram, you seem to engage with your fans quite often. How do you think social media helps your business?

My fans are so important and special to me. They are the reason why I am here today. Without them I wouldn’t have a career so it’s important for me to always be able to interact with them and make them smile. I think social media allows me to get to know my fans on a deeper level and have a stronger connection with them. 

What’s next for you?

So much… the hustle never stops. I am continuing to speak at events while also teaching workshops. On top of that, I am opening a lingerie and intimate apparel store that is coming this spring of 2020. I also just launched a candle line, a lip scrub line, and will be premiering my new skin care line this year as well. 

Matt Mathews, www.mattmathewsphotography.com and IG @matt_mathews.