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Matthew Murray’s zany perspective on ordinary life


September 28, 2012

If Matthew Murray’s work doesn’t elicit a smile, we’re not sure you’d pass a CAPTCHA test either. With a genuine appreciation for everyday people and the slightly bizarre, Matthew Murray has a unique talent for spotting the idiosyncratic details among the most ordinary situations – situations for which we can all relate, if you’re human that is. And while his images may look like impromptu snapshots, at a further glance it’s evident that his style, while unorthodox, is calculated and thoughtful.

We were lucky enough to get to ask him a few questions about his work and inspiration:

CORBIS: How does your own youth inspire your photography?

MURRAY: My Youth and growing up in a multicultural city has had a great influence on my work. I have supported Birmingham City Football Club for the past 35 years from the mid 70s to the present day. The people I have come into contact with on the terraces over the years, the stories they tell, the rivalry of the other team in Birmingham. Growing up, Comic books were a real inspiration to me also, the Dandy, the Beano, Viz, and later the work of  illustrator Brian Bolland, in particular his work on the comic book ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’. I draw inspiration from many different areas: Film, Rosemary’s Baby Directed by Roman Polanski and La Haine Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz; record sleeves, Exile on Maine Street shot by Robert Frank, and Aladdin Sane shot by Brian Duffy, Ill Communication, Beastie Boys shot by Bruce Davidson. Some of these records my parents had and I loved to look at them and see how they were put together. I am also influenced by painters such as Beryl Cook, George Shaw, and artist David Shrigley.

CORBIS: Your quirky day-to-day shots often require a second glance to “get”. What special element do you look for that makes your style interesting?
MURRAY: I believe the work I shoot people can identify with the situations or the characters. My work is very untechnical in its appearance almost like snapshot photography but unlike snapshot photography every element in my work is considered, the lighting the composition and the different elements which make the photograph.Many of my personal projects have been used in advertising campaign or have formed the frame work where a campaign is based around. Post District news had a article on photography that wasn’t typical advertising but work that sold very well, one of photographs was also included in that article. That particular photograph, the photograph of the cracked heels in a toilet, has also been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery London and other galleries around Europe, it is also a photograph that has done extremely well commercially.

CORBIS: What type of person do you gravitate toward when shooting portraits or street photography?

MURRAY: I love Winogrands work, Freidlander, Stepehen Shore, Eggleston, Tom Wood, Robert Frank, Tony Ray-Jones, Larry Sultan, Weegee, Lewis Hine, Mitch Epstein, Bill Owens, Diane Arbus there isn’t really anyone person specific.

CORBIS: Tell us a bit about your annual week at Pontins Holiday Camp. What were some typical activities? How about some unique characters you met along the way?”

MURRAY: As a child my family holidays consisted of a one-week break every year to Pontins Holiday Camp where everything was included in one price.  At these holiday camps were events such as Jack and Gill competitions ( the best looking girl and boy on the camp) knobbly knee competition, second rate magicians and singers, bingo, and much much more. More recently my holidays have encompassed visits to holiday resorts and theme parks on the East and West Coast of America, Brazil, Spain, India and the traditional English seaside: the places where people go to relax, have fun, seek thrills and bring themselves happiness and enjoyment in the sun.

See more of Matthew Murray’s work here.



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