Matt Dutile is a New York City based lifestyle and travel photographer. He grew up in a small New Hampshire farm town before venturing west seeking buried treasure, as most explorers do. After a recent move to the Big Apple, he came to the conclusion that he prefers crazy cab rides and New York City nights. These days he’s giving the wild world of lifestyle and travel photography a go. Matt likes to think of himself as a problem solver and storyteller. My first camera was… A Pentax ZX-M in high school for a darkroom photography class. I didn’t really hit my stride with photography until six years later when I picked up a Nikon D80 digital body on an impulse buy. I got started in photography… Really just on an impulse in December 2008. I was sitting at a desk job that at first I had enjoyed, but started losing interest in, and was looking for a hobby. I started out by shooting everything that makes me cringe to think of now. I guess that’s where most of us start, though. I wanted to become a photographer because… It really was an epiphany for me when I first knew this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I mean clouds parting, choirs of angels singing, basking-in-the-warm-glow epiphany experience. It just hit me one day. This was it. This was what I had been looking for and trying to figure out about myself. If I had to pinpoint one thing it would probably be the idea of being able to visually express myself. My first paying photography job was… I sold a few stock images of a property to a development group that I had photographed in my HDR phase. At the time my immediate thought was something along the lines of, “oh snap I can make some cash doing this?” My first booked assignment was a bit later shooting prospective model comp cards. My first BIG paying photography job was… A one-page advertising shoot for the Greg Norman Collection. They had recently signed rising LPGA golfer Belen Mozo to their line and needed an image of her for Golfweek. We photographed a few different looks and they picked up some images for social media use as well. It was a nice first big shoot because it was relatively simple and everyone was easy to work with. I would describe my style or shooting philosophy as… I’ve come up with a tag line that I think represents what I try to do pretty well. Capture the Energy of Life. That’s really what I like to create and bring out in my work. I also try to keep a clean aesthetic in my images. I want them to feel fresh and natural. Some of my industry role models are…because… I particularly enjoy the work of Shannon Greer, Julien Capmeil, Joao Canziani, Nick Onken, Stephanie Rausser and Pamela Hanson. I take something different away from each of them. I knew there was no turning back when… When I stepped out on my own. That was the real no turning back moment – at least from a financial and career perspective. If I could choose one dream gig, it would be… Target. I really want to work with Target and see my images splashed all over displays and wall hangings in their store. I think the message and visual style of the company fits so well with what I do. It’s fun, it’s carefree and I just like it. I have to grow a bit more in my work and the production level behind my images, but I’m confident I’ll get there and have the opportunity to work with them. One thing NO ONE could have ever prepared me for is… The amount of work and time it takes to build a business in this industry. Even when you think you’ve got something special, it’s going to take a lot of effort and marketing. It takes a while to even pop up on the radar of clients you want to work with. Then even longer before you might be a fit for an assignment. Factor in pre-pro and then a few months from there to even get paid from it. That’s a long haul process that I don’t think you can fully appreciate until you’re in the midst of it. Be prepared for a marathon, not a sprint! Some of my favorite educational resources are… I often troll sites like PDN and APhotoEditor to stay on top of current trends, read interesting articles or just look at other photographers’ work. I think the best education you can give yourself is to keep thinking about what drives you and then open yourself to the vast catalogue of good photography out there. Some of the tools I use to market my work include… E-mail promotion is really my main source of reaching out to new clients nowadays. It varies between big blasts that go out every now and then to smaller targeted pitches and personal e-mails to my top prospects. Sometimes it can feel a bit impersonal, though. When I can, I really love setting up meetings. It’s made me realize that personality and how you handle clients and shoots on-set is all part of your selling package. It’s what distinguishes you from another photographer. Since moving to NYC, my biggest revelation has been… There’s this incredible high that comes with the realization of, “oh sh*t I’m actually doing this.” On the flip side, the competition can sometimes be overwhelming. But the competition is part of the push. It’s what makes you better.