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Meet Pasadena Photographer: Matt Cobleigh

Today we’d like to introduce you to Matt Cobleigh.

Matt, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Born and raised in California, I always had an interest in the visual arts. My handwriting was so poor my mother got me a camera to express my artistic side when I was 12. The photography bug was permanent from that day on. After graduating from the USC School of Cinema-Television in 1992 with a degree in still photography, I began my career in commercial advertising photography. As a photo assistant, I immediately landed a first assistant position with Joe Carlson Studio and quickly developed my professional skills and began to shoot as an associate photographer. Through my 15 years of experience with Joe Carlson Studio, I earned respect from art directors and agencies throughout Los Angeles and Detroit. In addition to my current role as an associate photographer with Joe Carlson Studio, I founded Matt Cobleigh Productions in 2003. Projects undertaken by Matt Cobleigh Productions include video, CGI, post-production/retouching, in addition to still photography for Surfrider Foundation, Toyota, Lexus, Infiniti, Nissan, Subaru, Chevrolet, Thermador Appliances, Sony and other clients.

Has it been a smooth road?
Yes and no. I was fortunate to earn a first assistant and then associate photographer position with a respected and successful shooter. That kept me quite busy and taught me many valuable lighting skills. The challenge is and has been breaking out on my own. Creating my own identity as a photographer has taken some time. The essential “testing” (doing your own personal portfolio work) has been hard for me to make time for but it is what the art directors want to see, so I squeeze it in when I can. Photography is an incredibly competitive field, there are so many shooters out there it is always a challenge to get noticed and remembered. Once you do get notices you usually are bidding against other photographers and you need to find the most efficient and cost-effective way to put a shoot together to be awarded the project. I have worked hard to build a quality portfolio that I present to clients and I’ve been happy to have landed many great jobs. The problem is a portfolio needs to keep evolving and finding time to do that is tough for me. Mainly because I have two-year-old twins now. haha.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I expect the industry to divide further into organic and product CG imagery. More and more product shots will be generated CG leaving only images with food, people, and other natural elements to be photographed in a traditional sense. This shift is already in full swing with automotive advertising but I expect more products to head this direction as the software becomes simpler to use.

Has there been a particular challenge that you’ve faced over the years?
Tightening budgets and quick deadlines have been the biggest strain on the industry. Advertising has taken a big hit since the economic downturn and I don’t think the clients want to go back to spending as much as they used to on photography. Yet we still need to produce images that are of the same high quality. The challenge there is finding ways to meet the client’s budget while continuing to maintain our high standards for aesthetics. We usually meet those challenges by working faster, shooting simpler sets and utilizing compositing and retouching when needed to expedite the shoot day.

What advice do you wish to give to those thinking about pursuing a path similar to yours?
Be prepared for an extremely competitive industry. The entry level for photography has been lowered because of digital imaging, filters, and photoshop. It is difficult to stand out from the thousands of people out there who are taking photos every day. One must find his vision and create an outstanding body of work that carries that look throughout. Don’t rely on Instagram filters and other effects. The most important part of photography is lighting. Observe, study and recreate light qualities you find beautiful so you can master the control of light.

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