Matt Eich (b. Richmond, Virginia, 1986) (http://www.matteichphoto.com/) is a photographic essayist working on long-form projects related to memory, family, community, and the American condition. Matt’s projects have received support from an Aaron Siskind Individual Photographer’s Fellowship, a VMFA Professional Visual Arts Fellowship, and two Getty Images Grants for Editorial Photography. Eich was an artist in residence at Light Work in 2013 and is invited to a Robert Rauschenberg Residency in 2019. Matt accepts commissions and resides in Charlottesville, Virginia with his family.
LACP Interviews Matt Eich
LACP asks Matt Eich ten questions about his background, career in and beliefs about photography.
LACP: What kind of photographer are you?
Matt Eich: I consider myself a photographic essayist. This means that while I can appreciate the singular qualities of individual photographs, I am most interested in weaving long-form narratives through the combination of many images, often made over a long period of time. My thematic focus is at the intersection of memory, family, community, and the American condition.
LACP: How long have you been shooting?
ME: While I have been making pictures since I was a kid (20+ years), I’ve been working professionally for 13 years, since I started freelancing for my local newspaper at the age of 19.
LACP: Where did you get your training?
ME: I studied photojournalism at Ohio University (2004-2008) and received an MFA in Photography from Hartford Art School’s International Limited-Residency program in 2016. In 2009 I was a student at the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass.
LACP: When did you know you wanted to devote your life to photography?
ME: By the end of high school it was pretty clear that photography was the language through which I felt most comfortable expressing myself.
LACP: Did you ever come close to giving up?
ME: I still come close to giving up on a regular basis. Maybe once a week on average – every day when things are tough. The main thing that keeps me from quitting (other than masochism and stubbornness), is that I just honestly can’t imagine an alternate reality for myself.
LACP: Have you sacrificed anything by being a photographer?
ME: Seemingly all art requires some sacrifice. I haven’t given nearly what so many others have … their relationships, their lives. Still, photography has required me to sacrifice stability, many days and nights with my family and a definite toll on my physical and emotional well-being.
LACP: What have you gained by being a photographer?
ME: It is hard to quantify what I have gained as a photographer, but I’ve been allowed to be part of many intimate family and community moments that are often closed to outsiders. I’ve been given a chance to think about and unpack some of the complicated legacies that continue to impact my country. Additionally, I have gained a life where I can look, see, feel, and communicate my experience visually.
LACP: What classes do you teach at LACP?
ME: I am teaching a documentary workshop at LACP.
LACP: What do you love most about teaching?
ME: Definitely interacting with students, feeding off their energy, exchanging ideas and points of reference. I love looking at and talking about pictures.
LACP: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about making a career in photography?
ME: Don’t be in a rush – take time to develop your voice and vision, and consider your audience. What is most important to you? How can you express this visually? How can you chart a sustainable course for your work and your life?