Hometown Heroes: Mat Marrash

We love our local photographers. Their accomplishments never cease to impress us. They are proof that Columbus is a great city for photographers. Hometown Heroes highlights a Columbus photographer that we think is doing amazing work.

Mat Marrash is a film freak (in a good way). Keeping it real in the darkroom, Mat experiments with whatever film he can get his hands on, from large format to Polaroid to wet plates. Recently joining the LumoPro team as their new Product Manager, Mat is also a co-host of the Film Photography Project podcast. We asked Mat a few questions about his love for film and what we can expect from LumoPro in the future.

mat portrait
Mat Marrash, self-portrait, wet plate

MPEX: When did you start taking photographs? Have you always worked with film, or did digital play a role in your development as a photographer as well?

MM: I started shooting in 2008, when a summer college trip to Japan made me realize I’d want to bring back more vivid memories than my cell phone had to offer. For the first year and a half, digital was a great way to learn, but the images I was shooting didn’t feel in any way different from the rest of the crowd. Once I found film, my personal work instantly became film-centric. Forcing myself to shoot a roll of film per week in my Hasselblad 500c, I found myself going deeper down the rabbit hole. Fast forward another year, and I was shooting 8×10 (large format), co-hosting a podcast, and championing all things film. Currently, I shoot both film and digital, each for their unique strengths.

Photo by Mat Marrash
Photo by Mat Marrash

Why do you shoot film? What kind of gear do you use to make your shots?

There are plenty of film shooters out there that will tell you it’s the image quality, the dynamic range, or simply “the look”. The longer I shoot film, the more it has become about the act of shooting film. To some this process of hauling out gear is cumbersome, and too time consuming for the final image produced. Over time, I’ve grown to love slowing down, thinking about each individual shot, and only coming away from a shoot with a handful of working images.

While I do own a wide variety of film and digital gear, my go-to cameras are an 8×10” Tachihara  field camera and a Sinar P2 studio monorail. Together with a wide angle lens (250mm is wide on 8×10!) and some 8×10” sheet film, I’ve made a majority of the work you’ll see on my website.

Photo by Mat Marrash
Photo by Mat Marrash

Tell us about your “Barbershops” series. How did you get the idea? What was it about barbershops as a subject that drew you in? How did you choose which barbershops to shoot in, and did any turn you down?

The Barbershops series was something that came about while I was on the road as a traveling salesman. As part of my job, I’d be driving all over the Midwest to small towns, and at very least, there would be a tavern, a post office, and a barbershop. Of the three, the barbershops’ unique appearances and friendly proprietors seemed to be the natural choice. From there, I just started going into each shop when I had some free time, asking for a picture of the shop (offering a print in exchange). I’ve hit well over 100 barbershops in the three years I’ve been working, and so far have only had two turn-downs. Aside from the two times this series has been exhibited, I’d like to continue gathering enough images to justify a book. The only enemy to this project is time; these interesting small businesses are a dying breed (much like the film they’re shot on).

Photo by Mat Marrash
Photo by Mat Marrash

Lately, wet plate as a medium seems to be making a reemergence of sorts. What was your experience working with wet plates? What made you want to tackle this medium?

While my experience with wet plate has been minimal, I’m confident in saying it’s a high risk, high reward process. The chemistry is expensive and dangerous to use, but the final product is beautiful, distinct, and permanent. As I was trying my hand in bunch of different processes to use with the 8×10 camera, wet plate was one that stuck out to me, and was worth a shot. While I very much enjoyed the progress I made during my first months in the process, I didn’t really have a project in mind that went well with the constraints of the process. Perhaps one of these days I’ll pick it back up, but until then I’ve got plenty of other projects that need attention.

Photo by Mat Marrash
Photo by Mat Marrash

You also work with Polaroids and infrared. In other words, you’re working with more variety of mediums than most photographers I know. At the same time, you have a distinct style that translates throughout all your work. What is your artistic aim as a photographer?

Honestly, I’m still getting a feel for large format as a whole, and honing in that style. Lately, the infrared work I’ve been shooting is to get rid of my expired film stocks before they’re rendered unusable. Over the past few months, it’s taken a life of its own and is turning into a series. For the rest of 2013 into 2014, I’ll be shifting my focus back to portraiture, picking  back up with the Barbershops series and a studio project that’s unlike anything I’ve done before. My long term aim is to find a process, be it via film, lighting, or printing, apply that process to a large body of work, share these photos with the world, and grow my photographic skill set.

Photo by Mat Marrash
Photo by Mat Marrash

What are your plans for LumoPro as the new Product Manager? Any hints you can give us about what’s coming down the pipeline?

As LumoPro’s new Product Manager, I wish to see the brand continue to evolve while keeping strong to its roots. The Strobist community has come a long way over the years, and LumoPro along with them. With each new innovation to the lighting world, LumoPro will be there with an affordable, reliable product that will help photographers learn and create with light. The biggest thing LumoPro likes to offer its customers is control through all manual flashes (hint hint).

Photo by Mat Marrash
Photo by Mat Marrash

Check out more of Mat’s work on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ and Flickr!

Midwest Photo

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