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Conversations with Matt Hutabarat

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

Hi Matt, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I’ve always had a natural talent for arts in general. I had a deep passion for music, photography, and fashion for as long as I can remember. Everything I did was self-taught. Trial and error was a big part of my development into what I do today. People didn’t have access to the tools and resources that are available today so pursuing my passions as a career with no direction wasn’t exactly an option. I was a troubled youth and my life was completely out of control so a profession wasn’t even in my radar anyways. I was a high school dropout that was mixed up with the wrong people doing the wrong things. Living my life this way my self-esteem was shot. I didn’t feel like was ever good enough. I didn’t feel like anyone cared. Through all the trouble in my life my cameras and my music seemed to be my saving grace. Creating was my escape, in fact it was all I had. They were the only two positives that I could count on. Making money from my passions was more of a dream than an opportunity. I think that my goal was just to make people feel good about themselves because that’s what I wanted for myself, hence creating portraits. In fact, I wanted to find the beauty in everything. As time progressed so did my skill. The more I did the more people took note, the more people took note, the more the opportunity to charge for my services became a reality. I started with portraits so I never let that go. I also started doing couples, families, and well… basically anyone who would pay me. I found that I was able replicate a company’s DNA so I started doing just that. Expressing my love for fashion and trends with self-portraits, products, and pretty much anything I could. A few brands were impressed with my work and that led me into brand deals, contract work, and eventually influencing. That’s when I realized that I could break into the business side things and really start a career as full-time photographer. Fast forward to today and now I work with local businesses and have acquired partnerships with brands. Now my photography has been featured on major brand’s websites and national ads. Better yet sometimes I get to be the model too. What a change from the younger me that had no self-worth. I consider myself lucky to be in the business I am and have the success I do with it.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Absolutely not. Everything has its own amount of difficulties and struggles. Figuring out how to run a business properly was my biggest hurdle. Understanding that as a photographer, I am a salesman first and a photographer second was a concept that took me a while to get a hold of. I had no game plan when I started out and thought jobs would just fall in my lap. I had no idea what kind of grind it would be. Starting out with nothing and trying to do professional work was more than a challenge but I put every dollar I made right back into the business to progress to what I have now. Even today, not everything is all roses but there are far less bumps in the road and I’m able to earn a steady income.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Although by profession I would be a photographer, I’ve always felt more like my title should be an artist or creator. That’s what I truly do. I create art. I think that my style and approach are unique. I don’t follow the trends and not everything I do looks the same. While my main source of income comes from companies or brands, I do still work with the public too such as seniors, couples, an occasional wedding, etc. I try to create work that actually speaks to the viewer. Clients that choose me know that the final product is going to be more than just pictures. I absolutely love portraits and fashion so I tend to gravitate toward that love like senior portraits or model portfolios. However, my bread and butter is in fashion, branding, and products. I think I’m most proud of my journey and transformation into the person I am today. I’ve overcome obstacles in my life that would have broke most people. I really hope that others can see that as inspirational and not cocky.

I see so many people that are doing the same exact thing and can’t figure out why they aren’t going anywhere. The same lighting, the same poses, the same editing techniques and to me, it just gets boring. Kind of like everyone watched the same Youtube how-to video and that’s all they do now. If that works for them, then fine but I refuse to fall into that cycle. Again, considering myself to be an artist, with people it’s my personal creative style that sets me apart. I don’t just shoot what I see, I shoot what something or how someone makes me feel. With brands, it’s my ability to deliver under deadlines, match DNA, and think outside of the box.

Do you any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
As a child, my favorite memories always involved family. I actually don’t think I have a favorite, but things with family are what come to mind.

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