Photography with a Social Mission – Commons Studio & Matt Reese

April 29, 2017 | Adam Morris | 34:43 | 0 Comments



I am delighted to bring to you a podcast with Matt Reese, a Columbus photographer who has built up the Commons Studio photography company with a social mission.

His social mission has three aspects:

First off, Commons Studio provides paid internships — something virtually unheard of in the photography business.  (Because why would you pay your future competition?)  But Matt believes it is important to pay young photographers who are just starting out and teaching them the ropes of the photography business, especially how to price their work and establish themselves.

With digital photography, the cost of becoming a photographer and learning how to take good pictures has dropped — but then young photographers work for unsustainable prices, or misunderstand the value of the rights to the work… which lowers the expectations in the marketplace making it more difficult for all photographers.

By educating new photographers on how to price appropriately and manage their digital rights, Matt is effecting the overall sustainability of photography as a business.

The second aspect of the studio is Shot For Shot — for each headshot produced, Commons Studio gives one headshot away to someone in need.  Matt is dedicated to helping individuals get back on their feet, and helping them develop their image as they transition.  This one-for-one is a common theme in social enterprises, and a great way to build a business where social change is funded by one half of the business.  I love this approach because it sends the message that you can develop a business and earn a profit while delivering real value to your community.

The third aspect to Commons Studio is to do business with “good” companies. Any companies which aren’t wholesome, or not in line with the values of Commons Studio are turned down as clients. This way Matt Reese is promoting work within a sustainable community, and multiplying the impact of social change in Columbus.

It was a real pleasure to speak with Matt – he is such a dynamic and engaging fellow, and it was awesome to hear his story on how he is using his talents to build a company making a difference.  His studio has a pretty cool history of its own, but you’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out more about that — I hope you enjoy it, let me know what you think in the comments!

And… if you need a headshot, reach out to Matt at the Commons Studio and make a difference at the same time!

Read Full Transcript

[00:00:00] Adam: . So we are live. I'm your host, Adam Morris, and here we are on our podcast talking about people, helping people do awesome stuff, make awesome stuff happen. Today I'm talking with the social entrepreneur, Matt Reese. We're going to hear about everything that you've done with your photography business to fill it up as a social enterprise.
[00:00:31] Matt: Fantastic. Or do you wanna get started here? So,
[00:00:34] Adam: uh, well last time I ran into you, you were telling me a little bit, you were sitting on a panel discussing what social enterprise is. And I realized I didn't know. Um, I always thought it was just a company that was, had a social mission that was helping somebody out.
[00:00:50] And you explained to me that it's a lot more than
[00:00:52] Matt: that. Yeah. I mean there are a lot of ways that you can go about doing it. A lot of people think like maybe a social enterprise is limited to helping people on like the lower end of like the Maslow's hierarchy of needs, like supplying water or food to children in Africa.
[00:01:07] And that's great. That's a, there is absolutely a need for that. But. There are a lot of other ways that you can apply social enterprise as well, where we do, it's a bit higher up on that Mazlow's hierarchy, but I feel it's just as worthy. So we are helping folks, uh, take the first steps into a longterm employment.
[00:01:25] So we're doing that in a number of ways. Like we are a full service photography studio, but we are also focused on career and community development starting out in central Ohio. We'll see where it goes from there, but we're doing that, uh, both internally and externally. So internally. We put a big emphasis on paid apprenticeship opportunities, which that's very uncommon in the photography industry.
[00:01:46] A lot of photographers are like, why would I pay my future competitors to learn from me? You know what I mean? And for the longest time, that's how it'd be. And it was the, these unpaid interns privileged to, uh, just kind of shadow behind the photographer. But that's not working anymore.
[00:02:04] Adam: So why is it
[00:02:04] Matt: not working?
[00:02:05] Because information has been democratized on the internet, you know, so like all the technical information, creative skills, that's all being freely shared on the internet and it's awesome. They are more highly talented photographers than ever before. But because no one's really teaching them the business side of it, you have all these highly talented photographers who don't know how to price and negotiate, nor do they understand their rights as an artist.
[00:02:35] So there's this thing called the copyright act of 1976 what the heck? Sex. Well, that exists to protect your rights as an artist. So the moment you click that shutter, that image belongs to you unless you signed your rights away as a work for hire agreement. Yeah. Most don't realize that most photographers also don't realize that you should be pricing by the delivered image and how it's being used rather than pricing yourself hourly.
[00:03:02] So what I mean by that is, let's say that you're working for, you're doing some marketing collateral or advertising collateral for this. Large company, whether it's a big brand like a Nike or someone more local here, they should be paying. The value of that image should be based on how it's being used. So that could be the size that appears in the print collateral.
[00:03:25] So if it's like an eight. Eight by 12 or they're taken out of a billboard or wrapping a bus. There's a price for that, but then the price is also affected by how long they're using it. So the duration of use, that's another factor. And then the geographic usage as well. So yeah, you have to factor all these in, and that's the value of that image.
[00:03:45] Similarly to an art, to a musician, when they write that hit song, and then Volkswagen wants to use it in their commercial. There's a price for that. Volkswagen doesn't outright own that song. I mean, I guess there is a price for everything if they wanted to outright buy it. But you shouldn't do that though.
[00:04:00] Yeah. I mean, the president of my trade association, ASN P, he's still collecting fat checks from a job that he shot in the 90s it's being in a print distribution every year when they do another run of this book, they want to renew the license and he's collected another check on that. But if you priced himself hourly, he wouldn't have that.
[00:04:19] So they were trying to encourage those sort of best practices and at common studios. So the team, like the apprentice photographers that we bring in, where it's still in that end to them. And then the work that we do as a social enterprise, we are selective about what kind of clients we work with. So we won't work with like big tobacco.
[00:04:36] That's not brand aligned with us. We are more focused on working with a nonprofits. Communicating their mission and other good, like socially conscious and like aware brands of that nature. So that's the gist there. And then on the other side of the lens, we are working with career development nonprofits and providing complimentary headshots for their folks.
[00:04:59] So a lot of people, they don't understand. It's the last thing that people often forget about. Like you're putting so much effort into building your career and building this beautiful resume. But once you've got that and you're starting to market yourself, a lot of people forget about that final Polish on it when you're building a personal brand.
[00:05:17] So having a fantastic head shot to represent who you are on LinkedIn. To me it seems obvious because this is the world I live and work in, but a lot of people, they forget about that and kind of fall short there. But in a lot of the research that we've collected, a quality headshot will drastically improve your chances of getting discovered by a potential employer.
[00:05:39] So, I mean, the difference between having a profile photo and not, it's night and day, like you're probably not going to have your profile clicked on. Yeah. There was another study that we saw the iPhone. Oh yeah. Headshot. You
[00:05:52] Adam: notice a difference when there is a difference. Yeah. Somebody is professional and if they just put
[00:05:57] Matt: something up there looking slightly to the left chin up like that.
[00:06:02] Yeah, I know what you mean. And then like, yeah, or taking the time to put together a professional headset, like what we've got on the screen here, which the listeners right now can't see, but. I mean, here's some examples of that work. That's a big difference. Then like that iPhone selfie
[00:06:20] Adam: Indiegogo campaign right here.
[00:06:21] Matt: Yeah,
[00:06:22] Adam: that's very stylish. Do you have a lot of different backgrounds? It's not all just a professional background,
[00:06:27] but
[00:06:28] Matt: yeah. I mean, if you want that great professional background, we can do that. If you want that a Canary yellow, we can do that too. So yeah, it's fully customizable. But as I was going to say, there's another study that we've collected that track the eye movements of a recruiters over a long period of time.
[00:06:46] Yeah. As they're like going through LinkedIn just to see what they're actually paying attention to. They spent more time looking at the photos than they did vital career information that was relevant to the job. So, I mean, we live in a, in an era where brands, an image has a certain currency to it, if that makes sense.
[00:07:09] Yeah. I mean, you building a personal brand, people need to be able to get a sense of who you are very quickly. So, I mean, if we can, with taking our team into, provide these complimentary headshots for the beneficiaries of the career development nonprofits, if that headshot can help them get a job. It's well worth the effort to us.
[00:07:28] And then we're also leveraging the value of our services in partnership with the nonprofits. For them to be able to maybe get like a radio PSA or take off a print ad or something, cause this can be very expensive. But for the person or for the company who's providing it. It's pretty easy for them to just like do that in kind.
[00:07:45] So we'll say that the value of our photography services for like maybe a full day photo booth, Oh, that's a $10,000 photo booth, and then they'll give us 10,000 Oh we'll give the nonprofit $10,000 worth of radio PSA. That's one way we're looking to leverage it. So you just
[00:08:00] Adam: were talking about the Indiegogo campaign.
[00:08:01] Can you tell us a little bit more about
[00:08:04] Matt: what that's about? We just launched that on a Tuesday, February 28th. And it's going for 30 days. If we are able to generate more interests, we might run it for an additional 30 days, 60 in total. We'll see where it goes. At the moment, we've currently reached. Half of our financial goal.
[00:08:21] We hit that in about the first 24 hours, which is awesome. But the ultimate goal though, rather than just the money, we're trying to book 100 professional headshots in order to give 100 professional headshots. So the intention behind the Indiegogo campaign is to get that initial messaging out about who we are as a company and get that are programs called shopper shops.
[00:08:42] So every time you get a head shot with us, you're giving somebody a shot at a professional career. So yeah, we're trying to get the word out about that and then, uh, fulfill our pledge to our nonprofit partners in order to be able to supply the complimentary hit shots to them. So it's essentially a, a buy one, give one platform, which is very familiar, and we know about that from Tom's and Warby Parker.
[00:09:03] It was also really great local company called flow. If you're not familiar with off flow, check them out. So that's, if I want people on platform for a feminine hygiene products, tampons.
[00:09:14] Adam: Yeah. That's a new one I haven't heard of
[00:09:18] Matt: in Columbus on flow. That's funded by Claire coder. Yeah. You got to reach out to her next.
[00:09:23] Adam: Yeah. So you can live for three days.
[00:09:25] Matt: Oh, 28 days. Yeah. Today's the ninth and alive for
[00:09:32] Adam: 10 days.
[00:09:33] Matt: Again that point there. Yeah. We've managed to raise $4,910 so far. Financial goals 10 but really we're trying to sell 100 professional headshots though in order to get the 100 so it's trying to get the word out.
[00:09:50] Adam: You just mentioned that one aspect of your business is this, buy one, give one. What other types of social enterprises are there? I know there's many different styles of social enterprise. Yeah. They know a lot about it.
[00:10:04] Matt: I know decent amount that the more that I'm getting immersed in this world, I will say this world of social enterprise, it's some tasty Koolaid.
[00:10:14] I'm all about it. I honestly believe that it's the economy of the future because I mean, traditionally there's been for profit companies and there's been not for profits. And the two worlds didn't really collide too much. Now, social enterprise is sort of the gray area in between the two where you're borrowing from both models and that's fantastic.
[00:10:35] So like us, we are a for profit LLC, but we partner up with a nonprofit organizations and allow them to benefit from the value of our services. And then vice versa. There are nonprofit organizations who own for profit companies. Yeah. To further their mission. So I'm currently involved with a documentary film project right now documenting an accelerator program called se catalyst.
[00:11:01] And SC catalyst is, I believe it's eight months, and they have a number of nonprofit organizations that were accepted into the program, and it's a very immersive program to help them develop for-profit models within their nonprofits. So why MCA is a big example. They're in there. Okay. Yeah.
[00:11:20] Adam: And they do a huge social missions on downtown and in general.
[00:11:24] And then they have their facility as a gym that you can go and,
[00:11:29] Matt: yeah. So they're trying to find a way to be relevant to millennials. They're fine right now, but from my understanding, a lot of their demographic, or who are Y members, about 40 plus or so, and their final numbers at the moment, but. As the demographics are shifting, they're going to need to draw millennials in there.
[00:11:48] So I think they're looking for a way to help foster that
[00:11:51] Adam: and then grow up with Y and MCA. Right.
[00:11:56] Matt: I think they need to host some dance parties that'll work.
[00:12:01] Adam: I mean, it's fun. I was in the Y for a long time just to use it as a shower. From a yoga studio. Okay.
[00:12:09] Matt: It's
[00:12:09] Adam: just amazing how much other stuff that they were actually,
[00:12:12] Matt: so other reroute models of social enterprise.
[00:12:15] I guess another a really popular local example would be hot chicken takeover due to the loss of doing amazing things with that. So the way that they, a social enterprise, as far as the consumer is concerned, they just ask them tasty fried chicken, and that's what they're pushing. But if you look deeper into, uh, the, the business model, like you notice on the logo, there's like the little asterisk next to the chicken.
[00:12:37] I think that's what is intended by the symbolism of that. If you want to read more, click this and then you can find out more. So their social mission. Is through their hiring practices. So they're hiring a lot of like formerly incarcerated individuals and getting them back into the workforce. So that's, that's another model that's very popular.
[00:12:55] Another local company that's doing that is CleanTurn. John Rush is the principal founder behind that. So they do like demolition and stuff like that, and they're hiring formerly incarcerated individuals to see another model of social enterprise. Ben and Jerry's ice cream, you probably would have never guessed.
[00:13:15] Yeah. That's another one of those things where you have to just read a little bit deeper into it and they're doing it a number of ways. So, uh, first it's important to understand that they are, be certified as a company. B essentially stands for benefit. So they're a benefit corporation. I'm not sure if they're a B Corp technically, but I do know that there'd be certified.
[00:13:34] And when you're be certified, you open yourself up to a third party audit to a. Basically reaffirm that you are doing what you're saying you're doing. So they are looking at your books, they're looking at your sense of social and environmental stewardship and all that good stuff. And then you get a grade on it too.
[00:13:53] Kind of like a restaurant, but in California, so how Ben and Jerry's does it is through where they're sourcing their ingredients. So they will only source their ingredients from other social enterprises. Yeah. So that's one way that they maintain their social mission and then a portion of their proceeds, depending on what flavor you get, gets donated to a charity.
[00:14:15] Yeah.
[00:14:15] Adam: I had a, I remember 60 minutes from a long time ago about the greats and bakery in New York, which was hiring incarcerated people, providing jobs, and I hear they were an inspiration for the hot chicken takeover, and they actually supply all the brownies. I'm the kind of leftover, whatever's crumbling to Ben and Jerry's.
[00:14:37] Matt: Nice.
[00:14:38] Adam: I never realized that that was Ben and Jerry's mission to go out and find and source from other social enterprises.
[00:14:44] Matt: Yeah, that makes sense now. Yeah. I don't know how long that they've been doing that. I don't know if they've been doing that since the beginning or if it's sort of thing that they retrofitted, but it's awesome that a company that massive is doing that.
[00:14:55] Yeah. I
[00:14:55] Adam: think what we see today is there's such a disconnect in corporate America. I'm earning, you know, the focus around profits as opposed to what value you're actually delivering. Because any company is delivering value in the sense that, you know, people are paying for services and getting something from it, but there's seems to be this huge disconnect of, well, what's the actual purpose there?
[00:15:16] Matt: And exactly. It
[00:15:17] Adam: always comes across as, well, we need higher profits, otherwise you're fired. And it's pushing, pushing, pushing in a different direction.
[00:15:23] Matt: And I think that's. Yeah. That that evil capitalist cap, I mean, you've seen the corporation have any of that documentary from, I believe the late nineties early two thousands where they do a psychological examination of corporations as if they're an actual person, because they are legal entities.
[00:15:40] They have the same rights as a person, but when you analyze the psychology of this quote unquote person, there's still sociopath. Yeah. And I believe social enterprise fights that. So it's a being in business with a purpose. You have a conscious, there's another concept called conscious capitalism, which is essentially the same thing.
[00:16:00] And my understanding of it. So, I mean, just being a purpose driven brand. And there, I've seen studies where though, uh, a survey consumers, and I believe it was something like 80% of people surveyed said that they would rather spend their money on a purpose driven brand than one that is not. That's massive.
[00:16:21] And that's very reassuring about, uh. People in general, like people by nature I think are good.
[00:16:29] Adam: I heard that about millennials a lot, that you know that they are very choosy when they're coming through their careers about finding a company that is,
[00:16:36] Matt: has a purpose, especially if it's an entry level job and.
[00:16:40] Why? Like if they have the exact same pay level, but one has a purpose behind it and they feel good about that brand, they'd rather work for that brand. I'd rather work for Jenny's ice cream then what's a good example? I don't want to
[00:16:55] Adam: buyer's ice cream.
[00:16:56] Matt: I don't, I don't want to knock anyone but X company that is not purpose-driven.
[00:17:02] Adam: No. I'm gonna have to go. You mentioned the decertification. Yeah. Did you tell me the other day that you are also
[00:17:08] Matt: the certified? We are not yet. We're very interested in it and we are collecting the data in order to go down that route. But my advisors tell me that, don't bother with that yet. You don't need it just to focus on building a solid foundation.
[00:17:23] Now that'll come later, like, okay, but I, I, I want the merit badge. I mean, I used to be a Cub Scouts. I like earning the merit badge just
[00:17:30] Adam: like you can put up.
[00:17:32] Matt: Yeah, right. There's another sticker to put in the window. Yeah. But we know that we're that kind of company and as long as we're able to communicate that and be genuine, I guess it's all that matters because it does come at a cost too, and it's not necessarily a cheap, and you kind of have to hire somebody full time to maintain it.
[00:17:51] Yeah. You have to believe you're up for recertification every year and you have to be collecting all this data and being able to continue proving you are who you say you are.
[00:18:01] Adam: That's a process.
[00:18:02] Matt: Yeah. It's
[00:18:03] Adam: going to distract from your social mission if you're spending
[00:18:06] Matt: so much time. Precisely.
[00:18:08] Adam: I you find the
[00:18:09] Matt: photographers?
[00:18:10] Yeah. So we're recruiting out of CCAD and OSU right now and then through our personal networks too. So, I mean, we're just looking for very industrious and passionate individuals.
[00:18:21] Adam: Now you're also very in involved with the, uh, stuff, photography,
[00:18:25] Matt: SNCC, the American society of media photographers, trade association.
[00:18:30] Adam: So you're very involved with ASAP. What is their take then on, on your business? What, what do other professional photographers. See when you're doing this and they see how Hey, you're bringing in in terms of paying them and teaching them what's there, what's the reaction?
[00:18:44] Matt: A little bit of a head twist. Huh.
[00:18:47] That's different. You know, that's not how we traditionally do it. I'm like, I know I haven't had much of pushback because I believe that they, uh, they believe in me and they trust that what I'm doing is a well-intended, so I haven't had anyone tell me, stop doing that.
[00:19:02] Adam: You're trading competition.
[00:19:03] Matt: It's not,
[00:19:05] Adam: I think everyone benefits as well.
[00:19:08] And your photographers come in and with an understanding of how to price themselves,
[00:19:12] Matt: that works out better for everybody. Exactly, yeah.
[00:19:14] Adam: Because they're not pushing down the rates.
[00:19:16] Matt: And I'm trying to encourage anybody who comes through our doors and works with us to, uh, take interest in trade associations as well, rather than being a lone Wolf and thinking at other photographers as your competitors.
[00:19:27] Those are your colleagues. That's your network, that's your community. Yeah. When you join a trade association, you can call up any of your colleagues at any given time and ask for advice. That's very helpful. Whereas like if you're out on your own and you'd. We're a trade association number, you'd have to call a consultant and they're going to bill you about 125 an hour, and that one 25 gets you pretty close to having your annual membership.
[00:19:51] So it seems like a no brainer to me.
[00:19:53] Adam: You were mentioning you're very involved in nonprofit boards.
[00:19:57] Matt: Uh, so I currently serve on the downtown residents association of Columbus as a nonprofit board. Yeah. Doing the same thing I do for a, on the programs chair. So, uh. Raising awareness about new businesses and things that are going on downtown.
[00:20:12] Our board services, voice of advocacy, or the interests of a downtown residents. We're currently fighting the sub-metering issue.
[00:20:21] Adam: What's the summer? You're their
[00:20:22] Matt: new shot. There are companies that are buying up the contracts for the utilities and your buildings and then put a tax on there and it's like pretty close to being illegal.
[00:20:32] So our advocacy or advocacy chair, Rick Colby, is spearheading that. The dispatch has been covering it recently and we're trying to get that abolished. It's a bullshit.
[00:20:45] Adam: I had no idea.
[00:20:47] Matt: I didn't either and I never expected to be involved with things like this as a. When I was a young photographer and artists getting involved in, uh, just my career, I didn't think I'd be involved in likely sort of like community issues.
[00:21:00] But as I've been building my career, I find it to be absolutely necessary to immerse yourself. How can you serve people if you don't know what's going on? You have to be a part of the community and be an active number, especially
[00:21:13] Adam: for as a photographer. That's very important. Being part of the community, knowing what's happening, what's going on.
[00:21:20] Matt: Yeah. How did
[00:21:21] Adam: you get started as a photographer?
[00:21:23] Matt: Good question. Good question. It was all by mistake and happenstance, so I mean, when I was a teenager, I was in vans and that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a musician and I mean, we were teenagers. We didn't have the money to pay anybody to make us or tee shirts or logos or websites or anything.
[00:21:43] And my band looked at me like, man, you're the creative guy. You figure out how to do this. So I started, uh, teaching myself a Photoshop and learning how to build websites and all that stuff. And then from there, other bands were seeing that like, Hey, can you do a lot for us too? Like, okay, I'll charge them 50 or $75 for an entire website and do those are going for like $14,000 today.
[00:22:09] So as I was getting more into that and like I started getting more involved with like building websites and I learned both the back end with coding, but then the front end with the, the visuals as well. And I was taking a strong interest in graphic design. And the more I got into that, the more conceptual I wanted my graphic design to be.
[00:22:29] So I started a certain app by you just using images. That's fine. Like stock images, that's fine. On Google or Yahoo, whatever. It was popular in the late nineties I don't even know it was. It was just like the white page with the search bar and now Google is. It's everything. It's everything. All of it.
[00:22:51] Adam: I remember when I was in 2001 and the bosses telling me about Google, and I never really, I never seen Google before and I felt like I was late to the party.
[00:23:00] He was like, why would you use anything else I've been using, what was it? Hot and AltaVista.
[00:23:08] Matt: Yeah, but yeah, whatever platform it was, I was searching for images and then compositing those together. Photoshop. But then after a while, I just wanted more control over the angle of the image, the lighting on it, et cetera, et cetera.
[00:23:23] And that's when I brought a camera into the workflow. But I still didn't consider myself a photographer. I was just a, it was just a tool, a means to an end of like what the pre was that I was trying to create. I did that for a while, and then by the time I turned 21. Realize that it probably wasn't going to make a living off of the bands there.
[00:23:46] And I had some freelance clients as a web developer and a graphic designer, but price myself appropriately and I like business Ackerman. It was decent ish and just kind of learning by trial and error, but like, ah, I should probably go to school. So I was a nontraditional student. I enrolled was 21 at Franklin university, went there for two years studying both business and marketing.
[00:24:13] I got bored.
[00:24:15] Adam: I'm like, I need
[00:24:15] Matt: something creative. So I dropped out. Then, uh, transferred over to Columbus state, took a bunch of jet general electives. Got bored, transferred back to Franklin for a quarter, so took some more classes there and then transferred back to Columbus state. I didn't know what I wanted to do, and then by that point I'm like, well, this photography thing, worst case scenario, I'm not knocking it, but I could be a senior and wedding photographer.
[00:24:42] And I could probably make an easy, like 30 to 60,000 a year doing that. Okay. That's my safety net, but really I want to get into advertising and be a fine art photographer and all that crazy stuff. So I went through their photo program and completed that. Then after I finished that, I transferred over to a higher state and I was there for another two years studying a fine art and philosophy and then didn't graduate.
[00:25:08] I ended up getting an internship. And then doing some crazy stuff where on this internship, like the first week onto the job we were doing, uh. A video for the lockout piece. So I mean, Fergie wasn't in it. It was like B roll stuff that was going to be shown on the jumbotron screens during their tour, but it was a pretty big production.
[00:25:30] We went down to the arena district when a sugar and spice bar was still around. And, uh, they, they were gracious enough to let us film in there and like did all of that hair makeup talents. It's pretty wild. And then shortly after that, then we were doing stuff for the via Institute. They flew us out to chapel Hill, North Carolina, where they have a location and doing a video and motion graphics for them.
[00:25:58] And then. It's just getting all these really cool opportunities to do that internship. And I was pouring myself into that rather than my studies at OSU. And for the first time I like, I started getting failing grades. I was like, I'm trying to explain to him some instructors, like most of them were pretty cool about it cause they understood what I was doing.
[00:26:16] Others were like. Not so cool and that you have to focus on school. I've got my foot in the door for what I want to do with my career. So it's just like kind of his battle back and forth and like, you know what peace, I want to go do this stuff.
[00:26:34] Adam: What does that grade banner,
[00:26:36] Matt: yeah.
[00:26:36] Adam: Class, which isn't relevant to your career.
[00:26:39] I mean, I, yeah, I think quite often university
[00:26:42] Matt: professors don't get that. Yeah. Because I see the
[00:26:44] Adam: class in their world and they don't see, wait, you're actually trying to figure out what you want to do with your life.
[00:26:50] Matt: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I was 25 or 26 by that point and like, well, this is what I want to do and I'm learning a ton more out on the field on this.
[00:27:01] Like. Like learning on the job, so I'm going to keep doing this. I got the taste for it. I can't turn back now. So yeah, I haven't looked back since. I mean, I would love to eventually go back and finish, uh, my degrees, but right now I'm doing this thing. Oh, that's fantastic.
[00:27:18] Adam: I think, think back to my degrees and how much of it I'm using in my life now, and it's just like, well, it
[00:27:23] Matt: doesn't matter.
[00:27:24] Do you get a communications degree? I
[00:27:25] Adam: did not. I got a a. A degree in mechanical engineering and computer science, and then a landed maybe medical robotics for a little while,
[00:27:36] Matt: and then medical robotics, medical robotics. It's
[00:27:39] Adam: kind of the crossover, which was really fun. And then my company went bust and I said, well, I can either get a PhD in robotics or I can go and get an MBA.
[00:27:47] And that was the two options in my head. I chose the MBA and that took me to London and I worked there for awhile, which
[00:27:52] Matt: was
[00:27:53] Adam: interesting. Um, and then I came back here and worked for my dad and I got back into technology
[00:27:57] Matt: and
[00:27:58] Adam: profile platform and then very interested in social enterprise and how people are helping people.
[00:28:05] Like there's a different, so many different things that are happening right now. See, with Indiegogo, with Kickstarter, with online communities, the way that people are connecting to make projects happen and make a living from those products. And that was in London. I was working in a lot of these shared work environments.
[00:28:22] And I was impressed.
[00:28:23] Matt: They were, it's
[00:28:24] Adam: like they were growing out of the woodwork. People working for themselves, coming together, using each other
[00:28:30] Matt: as a support network
[00:28:31] Adam: to establish their own careers as individuals. They were so excited about the work that they were doing. They were, everyone was, it was hard work because when you're working on your own, you don't have that traditional.
[00:28:45] Matt: Support network
[00:28:46] Adam: that you do in a company where it's like, okay, here's your job, here's your paycheck. Go home. No, I, and you know, they, you have to be very creative in that environment in order to earn your living and connect with people. And that's an entirely different way of thinking.
[00:29:02] Matt: Yeah. I had some time at a, a shared workspace here in Columbus as well.
[00:29:07] So like when I was first starting out as a freelancer, we were renting space out of, uh, the workshop company in the short North. So you know where like the EDF is. Yeah. There's a Pearl street alley back there, kind of tucked away and we're based out of there. It was us and like, let's say like 15 or so other couple of little companies all running our desks.
[00:29:26] And then just by proximity of each other, like maybe like building acquaintances and relationships and it's like, well. I'm a photographer, you have a branding agency, we could probably collaborate here. So a lot of my early portfolio was built out of that, and then it was really cool to see some of the other companies as well.
[00:29:48] My understanding of the owner of the space was kind of curating who came in so that way, like nobody would be a conflict of interest and if anything, they'd be complimentary to one another. And it absolutely worked. So I'd see like one company that was doing like web development and then another who had another complimentary service.
[00:30:06] And eventually a lot of the companies would start kind of merging together. And then they, like, they start with two desks and then they take on a third desk and then a fourth desks, and then they're ready to go get their own space. So that happened pretty frequently too. And then that was a really awesome environment.
[00:30:23] And then eventually Uber came in, they started with their two desks. Four desks than the entire space. That was cool.
[00:30:32] Adam: That's interesting. That's definitely a a force in the world.
[00:30:35] Matt: Yeah. Yeah. One day I walked in and they took my locker. That's my locker. Nope. Is Uber's locker now, but by that point, I was already on already on my way.
[00:30:46] I found the space that we're in right now, and I was making that transition.
[00:30:50] Adam: So you came in the space three years ago. Is this your art up on the
[00:30:54] Matt: wall? It is not my arts that is salvaged from the garbage, believe it or not. Yeah. I was working at a europium at the time and I was taking the garbage out and I found these guys, Ashton, the, uh.
[00:31:11] Back there. So, uh, these three panels that we're looking at, you'd probably have to take a photo or something to include on your, a post here, uh, to better communicate it. But they were on the signup Betty's for three years, and they're actually five in total. A friend of mine independently took the other two well panel before we knew each other.
[00:31:30] I worked out, but yeah, I found these three, brought them back. I, I took my cheek back later that night. It was raining. This room up on the top of the Jeep, drove it back to my apartment, one drive out for a few days, and then it's lacquered it up. Built the frames, mounted it, and I've had them ever since. So they were a part of the, uh, it's a series of no longer exists.
[00:31:53] Art Alfresco, and it was the first annual edition of that, or an Alfresco. It was all about, they would invite artists, come in and do installations on the side of the buildings and the short North to help like build that sort of the creative fabric in the neighborhood. Awesome. Find. Yeah. I'm pretty stoked about it and it looks
[00:32:10] Adam: great.
[00:32:11] It looks like that was made that way.
[00:32:14] Matt: Yeah. I mean they were originally pristine, like all like the decay and everything you see on it. That that didn't exist. That was just naturally weathered. That's probably why they threw it away. Like garbage. Now
[00:32:27] that's not happening.
[00:32:28] Adam: Let's go back to this. But so now on my way in, you were telling me that about the total students. Wonder if you could tell me about that again, just how, what the space is that over the years, who came into it three years ago, but it's not the first
[00:32:40] Matt: time. It's studio in the late 18 hundreds through.
[00:32:46] Not the 1950s this building has been used or a creative purposes. So there've been a number of photographers based here. Uh, the first was Lorenzo Baker. He photographed prominent persons such as William McKinley and Annie Oakley. They were both photographed in this building, which is pretty wild. And then, uh, he eventually, uh, moved down the streets at like seat and I believe, and ran his business there for another like 50 years or so.
[00:33:16] And then, uh, in his wake, there's a company called core keeper that came in and they did these specialized in portraits. They did a lot of like, group shots of like municipal organization. So like the firefighters and whomever, and they were around for 50 years. So if you start digging into like a lot of the Columbus archives, you'll see those names, Baker and then, or Kiefer printed on a lot of the photos.
[00:33:40] It's just pretty awesome. And then there was another organization, uh, that use the building as their clubhouse called with a pen and pencil club. George bellows and Billy Ireland
[00:33:49] Adam: were among their members.
[00:33:51] Matt: Yeah. If you Google search the, uh, the name, pen and pencil club and Columbus neighborhoods. There's that PBS series or WSU series called Columbus neighborhoods.
[00:33:59] There's a really great feature on there. I took that off. Yeah, please do. So, yeah. And then there was also a musical that was based in the building for a while
[00:34:07] Adam: too, so I've got a good
[00:34:09] Matt: history and a good vibe. Yeah. We're just trying to bring that creative legacy back.
[00:34:15] Adam: I love what you're doing with this space.
[00:34:17] Matt: It's always a work in progress.
[00:34:20] Adam: That's fantastic. Thank you so much
[00:34:22] Matt: for taking the
[00:34:23] Adam: time to talk to me today.
[00:34:25] Matt: Yeah. My pleasure. Thank you for having the interest in us and what we do. That's
[00:34:29] Adam: awesome. Super successful and photography in Columbus.
[00:34:34] Matt: Thank you.


Also published on Medium. Are you on Pinterest? Pin these and let’s connect!

Follow People Helping People on WordPress.com

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: