Photographer Matt Sarratt is based in rural North Carolina and is married with children. He started in photography in November 2016 by taking the New York Institute of Photography courses in Photojournalism and Portrait Photography. Sarratt is a former fundamentalist Baptist preacher who walked away from the ministry several years ago in disagreement relating to church dogma regarding the treatment of those living in "alternative lifestyles" and by "condemning them to living in sin". Sarratt has a Bachelors degree in Biblical Studies and a Master of Arts degree in Ministry.
After discovering Sarratt through emails, we asked him a series of questions about his work, censorship and his motivations.
L When did you start photographing in the genre?
MS I started photographing is this genre by accident, not too long after I started in photography, which was November, 2016. I had a couple that approached me about doing ‘intimate’ portraits of them. That kinda “cocked my trigger” because the photos turned out, to my amazement, good. It’s been downhill so to speak ever since. I have found that my boundaries have been pushed a bit (as well as ME pushing the envelope), doing more full nudity. I feel if you’re going to do something, go all out, don’t hold back- realize your vision.
L Why are you working in this genre?
MS This is not the only genre that I work in, I also do conceptual portraiture as well as landscape photography. I feel the adult genre helps me to remain balanced. It’s odd- I’ll be in a deep sleep and “something” wakes me up with an idea, I immediately get up and write the idea down on a sticky note and go back to sleep. It then burns in my brain until I’m able to record, edit and print the final photo (yes, I’m old fashioned and print my own work). It also helps me to release pent-up emotions. Instead of going off on someone, I get out my camera and start working on my art. Andres Serrano communicated these words to me: “What’s most important is that you do your work”. Since he told me that, I’ve been balls-to-the wall ever since.
L Do you consider yourself a fine art nude photographer or fetish photographer?
MS I consider myself a bit of both- fine art and fetish photographer. It really depends on the message/vision I’m trying to convey. Sometimes it’s a BDSM scene, sometimes it’s a gay drag scene and sometimes even an artistic full nude. It really depends on my mood and the “voice in my head”.
L How do you source your models?
MS Believe it or not, my model pool is usually people that I know- friends, acquaintances. Very rarely do I have to pay my models, unless it’s something that is really raunchy or “out there”. I have a really close guy friend that I had been wanting to photograph for about a year. We were never able to get together to do his photos due to work schedules, family, etc, one day he contacts me out of the clear blue and says he’s ready to do photos with me. He comes into my studio, immediately strips and I begin to photograph. It happens quite a bit with me. I guess people trust me- My wife and I want everyone to feel comfortable in my home (I have a small studio attached to my house).
L How do you share the work you create?
MS I share the work that I create on my website (which I just recently redid to create a new image for myself and my photographic endeavors). The style and type of photos I do CANNOT be shared on Facebook or the Instagram platform, they would Facebook/Instagram jail me for infinity. I feel it is a shame that in a “free” country that we have peddle and show our work in a semi-secret, almost clandestine way. Why should artist feel like they are singled out for photographing, painting or sculpting representations of the most beautiful thing on earth- the human body? It’s time for us to make our voices heard and come out of the shadows as a legitimate, showable art form. Sorry for the sermonette.
L Don't say you are sorry Matt, that is part of our mission here at LEMPA, to ensure this genre is not censored and practitioners can "come out of the dark"! To that end, we are hosting a Non-Censored Forum where photographers working in the fine art nude and erotica genre can post images and get feedback & exposure the way we could if we were not censored by social media. We encourage all our readers to take a look and post images (our way of sticking it to the man).
L How has censorship effected the work you make?
MS Censorship on social media platforms is fucking ridiculous! If you show a nipple, you're banned! Really? America is so prudish when it comes to sexuality. Censorship has crippled my visibility on social media; in order to see my work, fans have to go off site to view it. The only thing that you’ll find on my social media is portraits (tame) and landscape photos.
L Matt, we love you work! and we have a few technical questions; what gear do you shoot with, your favorite focal length and what lighting do you use?
MS Please don’t laugh when I tell you the camera system that I use! I use the camera that I first started in photography with- an Olympus OMD EM5 mark II, HEY! STOP SNICKERING- it’s all that I could afford at the time... lol. On a serious note, I love the portability of my little micro four thirds system, it’s light, well- it’s light. I have to work very hard to get the images that I create. I would love to step up to the Pentax or Fuji Medium Format system. Maybe one day that’ll happen! My favorite focal length to shoot with is the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 with ND filter, it pretty much covers my day to day shooting needs, however, I do on occasion use the 45mm f1.8 as well as the 75mm f1.8 for closer portrait work. (Remember that micro four thirds focal length is approximately half of the full frame or 35mm format due to the small cropped sensor size). I mainly use a continuous light Westcott parabolic umbrella and a 22” beauty dish with honeycomb grid and diffuser to create the dramatic, low light effect. Since I took Chris Knight’s dramatic portraiture/lighting class, I try to integrate the Rembrandt lighting style into my work- it creates mood.
LEMPA would like to thank Matt for taking time to answer questions and showcase his amazing work. You can visit Matt's website here.
If you would like to be considered for a LEMPA article on you and your work, please send an us an email! We love to discover new photographers and show case them.