Lewis Gets Inked: Q&A with Matthew Ford

Meet the creatives: Matthew Ford

Lewis Gets Inked: Q&A with Matthew Ford

A unique pool of talent has been brought together to create Epson’s new ambitious film, Lewis Gets Inked. Over forty people shared their expertise on the day including a special effects team, stunt supervisors, a movement specialist, lighting technicians, photographers, and more. We caught up with the people working behind the scenes to discover what they loved about the shoot, how they got started in their dream career and what other interesting projects they’ve been involved with.

Matthew Ford, photographer, freelance

From photographing famines in Ethiopia to documenting Paul McCartney on tour, Matthew Ford has a rich and varied portfolio of work.  By the time he was 23, he was working for The Sunday Times, photographing politicians and a range of influential figures. In every project, Matthew instills his unique vision and gift for storytelling. 

What role did you play in making this film?

I did the still photography on the shoot, including showing what was happening behind the scenes.  I shot a lot of this on a Nikon D750; it provides the perfect balance between low light and resolution. We also used a high speed camera, the new Nikon D5, for the action shots. It shoots at fourteen frames per second. The whole process, from the beginning of the pour to the splashing, was perhaps three or four seconds, so I was able to take nearly fifty frames in that time.

What have you most enjoyed about making this film?

There was lots of action and it had the look of a big budget Hollywood movie set.  

What are the best parts of your job?

It’s variety; I can go from work like this to photojournalism in Africa. That’s my thing; documentary filmmaking, it tends to be quite raw.  

What are the worst parts of your job?

The long days. You can be working from 6am till midnight. If you want to be at home to watch The One Show, then it’s not the job for you. It’s not nine to five, but it’s not everyday either.  But, if you have a passion for your job, then it’s not really a job.

What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on?

Recently? Commercially? This one. The studio was the size of a hanger for a Zeppelin. It looked massive. And we got to pour ink over the world’s greatest racing driver.

Over my career, I’ve covered famine, conflict, the fall of the Berlin wall. You get to see human life from a different perspective as a photojournalist. But danger doesn’t necessarily equate to interesting. In life, often the most interesting things are happening around the edges of an event. It’s what’s going on in the side streets, rather than the central square. You have to dig out the real human stories.

I’m also shooting a documentary about the Playboy club in the sixties. That will take me to America, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia, so that will be interesting; it’s all about the age of glamour.

How did you get your first break into the industry?

I went to art college; I’m dyslexic so I didn’t want to write things down. I came from quite an artistic family and got a camera when I was 14, and that was it. I studied photography and film after school. I left that course because of the famine in Africa. I wanted to be a photojournalist, so at 19 I backpacked and hitched to Ethiopia. There was a war going on. That was before the live-aid famine, so I was covering the refugee walks and camps within Ethiopia and Sudan. It was for about six weeks.  I didn’t have contact with anyone from back home so they thought I was missing. When I returned, I got headhunted by a news agency and I was working for The Sunday Times by the time I was 23. 

What advice would you give to people starting out in the creative industries?

Do something that is big, bold and original to get noticed. There can be a fog of material on YouTube and the internet. There’s a lot to pick through and you need to get noticed.

You have to work for very little at the beginning, make the tea and run around on errands. Be prepared to work your way up; there’s a lot of people in the business that have done just that.

I think the trick is not to wait for people to give you work, you have to go out and find it. Give them ideas; ‘what about this? What about that?’ You have to feed in to the creative conversation.

With photojournalism you work alone a lot, so you need to be pretty self-sufficient, creative and come up with your own ideas. You’ve got to enjoy our own company.

It’s about hard work and the trouble is a lot of people don’t understand what hard work is. They want to knock off at six o’clock. You’ve got to be prepared for early starts and late nights, but it’s good fun and involves travel.

A friend of mine enjoys the Sahara so she started a travel company that specialised in touring deserts around the world. She found herself an angle which allowed her to do what she loved doing, all the time. If you love the sun, don’t become a penguin scientist!

Follow the link to watch the full video: http://www.epson.co.uk/lewisgetsinked