“When I have a film camera in my hands there is nothing in the way between me and who I am photographing. It’s only us existing in that very moment, and that’s how I can capture something so honest and so real.”
Rosie Matheson is a London and Los Angeles based documentary and portrait photographer, primarily examining the emotional connection between people and places. She shoots mostly analogue and is inspired by the nuances of everyday life. Since winning the1854 Media Portrait of Britain award in 2016 with an image from her series ‘Boys’, Rosie has continued to work on both personal and professional projects, whilst being featured in global publications such as Dazed, i-D, The Guardian, and The Culture Trip.
Rosie went on trips to Hawaii and South Korea with the Leica M6. We caught up with Rosie to find out more about the experience.
Could you tell us a bit about your photography background?
I’ve been shooting photos ever since I can remember. Connecting the dots of life. After experimenting with pretty much everything: digital, film, landscapes, macro, and slow shutter speeds through my teenage years: portraiture is the one that stuck.
What brought you to Hawaii and South Korea?
I have family in Hawaii who I visit every year. Since moving to America, it’s become a much easier trip and I am making the most of it.
I was in Seoul with my friend and singer Finn Askew. He was headlining a festival, so I went to document the trip. It was my first time in South Korea, and I am obsessed and need to go back!
Why do you shoot portrait and documentary photography?
The more people I meet in all corners of the world, the more I understand about the human experience. Having a camera in my hands allows me to step into all kinds of places, it’s such a powerful tool for connection. I’m obsessed with narrative and storytelling.
Do you know the people you shoot portraits of?
With most of the people I shoot, I am meeting them for the first time. It’s usually a situation where I have about 30 mins to meet, engage and shoot. It’s always about conversation and that’s my focus during a shoot. The photos almost come second to the conversation. I try to observe someone’s mannerisms and how they move or stand.
Why was the Leica M6 the right camera to bring on this trip?
The M6 is such a solid camera whilst also being so transportable and easy to carry around. It’s fast, low key and quiet. The M6 is beyond reliable and what I love most is you can use it in any situation.
What lenses do you use with the Leica M6?
I was shooting on 28mm and 75mm lenses with the M6. My favourite is the 75mm, the depth of field on it is crazy and creates a similar sharpness to shooting medium format imagery. The detail you can capture is beautiful and the portraits feel like a moment frozen in time. The 28mm is amazing for more documentary-based work where you can tell the story between people and places.
What advice would you give to aspiring portrait photographers?
Shoot as much as possible. You can make a shoot work even if you only have ten minutes. It’s all about practice, learning what your process is and being consistent. Every shoot I do, I learn something.
See more of Rosie’s portraits on her Instagram and Website.