MATTHEW Ibadin (a.k.a. Mattson), a photo artist, has in the last 13 years, displayed a strong mastery of the camera, having used it to produce portraits that put him ahead of others in the industry. He lives out his passion for photography with his peculiar techniques, which earned him the coverage of DeltaAfric in Akwa- Ibom mega city and as well the sole participant photo/art exhibitor at the just concluded Pan African University — Enterprises Development Service (EDS) Yuletide gig. As the Chief Executive Officer, Mattson Creations, he takes time to beautify pictures by enhancing the composition and making them entertaining. He speaks with Chiemerem-Nneka Umenne on his passion and dream.
I’m from Uromi, Edo State. I had my primary and secondary education at Uromi. I had my first degree in Political Science from University of Lagos. Others are Entrepreneurship certifications from Fate Foundation in 2002; Enterprise Development Service (EDS) — Pan African University, Lagos; Media Enterprises from Pan African University; and Advance Certificate in Photography from London School of Photography, London, to name a few.
From Political Science to photography
During my secondary school days, I’d always wanted to be a photographer. But there was no photography as a course in Nigerian universities, then. So, while studying political science at UNILAG, I was also busy taking photographs on campus. I studied Political Science because I wanted to study human behaviour and actors in the international community. But I had to enroll in photography institutes in United Kingdom, America and Europe to unveil creative ideas in me. Professionally, photography is what I do for a living.
I started as a campus photographer in UNILAG from 1996 to 2001. Far back then, I was collecting N150 for two copies, which was also my major source capital for Mattson Creation. The then Vice Chancellor, the late Prof. Jelili Adebisi Omotola, because of me, introduced work-study-programme in the school. I devoted 64 per cent of my time for academics and work; then cultism among students was a common thing. So, the VC said students would not have enough time to engage in negative unions if properly occupied. Though, it was not officially celebrated, he called me one-on-one to congratulate me.
Works for and with the big wings:
I had a one-on-one training in photography in Italy with Mr. Brown and in London with Chris Bell, Managing Director of Photo Opportunity. I majored in Area Photography, Portraiture and events. I just concluded the area photography for DeltaAfric in Akwa-Ibom Mega City site by using helicopter to do the documentations of the land, which is pure area photography. A lot of my works are found in so many Nigerian banks, but I don’t want to name call. Individuals are also my clients. I covered the wedding ceremony of Igbinedion’s daughter. I always want my works to speak for me. The January to April picture covers of Genevieve magazine are taken by Mattson Creations. The inner page column called style attitude are part of my works.
Setting up a photo gallery
Before now we used to have art galleries but at my photo gallery, people buy pictures for almanac and offices among others.
Difference between photo and art gallery
Art gallery is a specialized artwork. Photo gallery is purely on pictorials, but accommodates art works. Besides, I use my photography to communicate messages to people on the streets vice versa. My unique selling point is that I can even transform my pictorials to art piece. My exhibition at Lagos Business School and Terraculture were art piece with abstractism as main theme.
I use instrument of coercion in portrait creativity for its values. The ability to be creative makes me to be sought for. I have not seen anybody that comes to my studio for portraits that will not look for me. If you allow me into your house for portraits, you would not welcome any other photographer because I will change everything in that house. The way and how I do them talks. That is what I term entertaining photography because it is not all about just telling people to stand and you click the button. It’s far too beyond it!
At EDS exhibition, you had ‘Community watch’ photos, why that?
Yes. The naked boy portraiture tagged “Innocent” is a capture of a boy that is taking his bath at the beach; innocently pouring the water over his head. It depicts that everyone in the world has equal opportunity, in the sense that we come from the same source, behave the same way but end up having different opportunities as we grow older. The picture simply means you or me. That was my best photography in that event going by participants’ decisions. I am currently working on a book that will motivate the study of photography.
I am working on Mattson Photo Club. Members will have periodic photo shots depending on contract agreement with the club, regardless of location. It aims at making photographs the most valuable item in the world. A lot of people crave to have their infant pictures, but they cannot locate them. I hope to have a national portrait gallery. I want Nigeria to keep histories of events pictorially. I want to manage Nigeria’s database through the use of photographs, which is also a re-branding technique. I want foreigners to invest in our country by believing in the pictures we present. I don’t have any other country to go to and as such has package it properly.
Dreams for 2010
To achieve the goals of my projects. To see young people take the lead in photography and for people to see it as a profession they would want to go into.
Insufficient enlightenment and disregards for practitioners. A photographer, who even does pre-and-post production is not respected like comedians who talk for few minutes and walk away with huge sums of money. It is not just attending parties and someone snaps and urges you to bring N100 for collection. I respect only two photographers — Don Barber and Mo Barrack in the country; they don’t make noise despite being big boys in the industry. These photographers uphold professional ethics and follow price standards. Non- credit to photographers’ work is a challenge and that is what Don Barber has been preaching against. But if we professionals adhere to core standards, everyone will reap the benefits. I see no reason a picture I shot for N100, 000 for instance, will be used for billboard across the states and a printer who tapped my intellectual property would be paid a million naira. It is not right and that is unethical. In such case, who ever took that shot ought not to be a photographer because there should have been an initial understanding of the usage of the work. That is the reason most photographers cannot even maintain themselves and live in good environment like those in advertising agencies. This is the worst challenge in Africa as a whole.
What is your association doing?
There is no photographers’ association in Nigeria for now. What we have are individuals representing groups. We have the coming together of professional photographers headed by Ojekhere, which has not existed for over 13 years on paper. But we are trying to come up with one.
Cherished work- piece/ tool
“Innocent” because it was impromptu. I was driving along the beach side when I saw a little boy having his bath. I had to park and snap him. My most recent model camera is my favourite tool.
The late Fela’s songs and my camera.
Message to fellow practitioners:
Lets us come together to have an association. The earlier we do this, the better for all.
Power generation is one big challenge.