Ric Matkowski is a Canadian-based commercial photographer who spent a career as an engineer and manager in the energy sector before pursuing his lifelong passion for photography full time.
How long have you been a photographer?
I’ve been shooting seriously the last five years, beginning as a hobbyist and now as a new professional. I am now an accredited photographer with Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC), the President of a local camera club, a featured artist in the international magazine, Living the Photo Artistic Life and certified to Level 1 in the Josh Rossi digital artist program.
Congratulations on the accreditation. That’s an impressive arc in such a short time. What types of photography services do you offer?
My business is in its early days. My biggest struggle has been to establish myself. After struggling with understanding my niche, I am now focused on digital art, products and portraiture. I still shoot landscape and still life and look to monetize those images as well.
What helps set you apart from your competition?
I set myself apart from the competition by adhering to certain values, namely: perseverance, dependability, loyalty, open-mindedness, and efficiency.
What are your goals as a photographer and what would you like to do after reaching a level that would enable you to do commercial quality work?
I am always learning. I don’t see an endpoint where you can say you know everything in photography. It is such a broad spectrum art and as technology changes and the business market changes, if you are not learning, you’re falling behind!
That’s so true. Despite some who cry that photography is dying, we certainly prefer to think of it as naturally evolving to integrate new technologies as additional tools for creating fresh images. And when it comes to product photography, it’s amazing what can be accomplished even in a very small space.
I’d love to have my own small studio, a recluse where I can create images easily and on a daily basis.
What made you decide to pursue product photography?
A tough question, because as recent as it’s been since I’ve dipped my toe in the water, I really can’t recall the event or the day that I said, “Yes, I want to learn more about product photography!”
Maybe because we’re always surrounded by product images? A lot of photographers gravitate toward product photography after developing some core skills shooting other genres. And that’s become easier now with access to online education. How did you first learn about Photigy?
Again, I can’t really recall how I came across Photigy, but boy am I glad I did! It was likely via some exposure on the Internet and after checking it out, I jumped right in earlier this year (2019).
How many product photography courses or workshops have you taken through Photigy?
I’ve been pushing hard to go back into the archives of tutorials and workshops to get up to speed as quickly as I can. Today, I’ve reviewed the tutorials and submitted the homework for about six courses. I’ve received the certificates for four courses and received feedback in two workshops and have a couple more in the system awaiting feedback.
Do you have a favorite course or workshop?
I can’t say I have a favorite as I’ve enjoyed them all and have learned so much from each and every one of them. If pushed hard enough, I might say the Glossy Shoes: Advertising Product Photography workshop has been my favorite.
When you first got started, what did you find to be the most challenging aspect of photographing products?
The most challenging issues have been:
— Setting aside the time to view the lengthy and informative videos associated with each course and workshop;
— Working with the gear I have, which was more suited to other work I was doing: portraits and landscapes.
However, I continue to add equipment slowly, which doesn’t necessarily mean a better photograph but usually means less time is required to get the photo shoot done.
That’s probably the best reason for adding gear to your kit. It’s far too easy to fall into the trap of thinking more expensive or better gear automatically equates to better pictures. With that in mind, what is your favorite product image you created since taking courses/workshops through Photigy?
I don’t particularly have a favorite. I’ve enjoyed each and every image. There’s always some new challenge to overcome and the satisfaction is in the journey. The final image just represents the results of the effort put in.
Is there a specialty in product photography that interests you the most?
This is still a work in progress for me, but right now, I’m biased toward beverages and cosmetics.
How has your learning experience with Photigy affected your success as a photographer or pursuit of photography?
The techniques presented through Photigy are not only obviously important to high-end product photography, but I’m finding that there is a lot of spill over….things I’ve learned through Photigy can be applied to other genres of photography and I’ve also found that my digital artistry skills can make a difference in my product photography. I think a good marriage is possible!
With the help of Photigy’s program and the learnings I’ve gained from other digital art programs, I’m creating images that I would never have even contemplated a short time ago. I’m hoping now that these skills and images will result in opportunities to work commercially and yes, monetize my work.
What advice do you have for people interested in pursuing product photography?
My advice would be if you are interested in pursing product photography, don’t wait and jump right in. I would also say that it is unlikely that you’ll find better value for the money than the Photigy programs, particularly the Professional membership. Yes, there are other fine product photographers out there and you should likely take a look at those programs, but what I find so unique is that Alex is so willing to show the “warts”; i.e. the problems and decisions that each and every product photographer must make in the course of a shoot. In other words, he doesn’t just show you the “glossy finals,” but rather lets you see his mistakes and false starts so that you can anticipate those in your personal photoshoot and more importantly, have some insight on how to get around or solve the problem. Yes, it’s the ability to learn from his mistakes that helps you move up the learning curve much quicker!!!
What other areas of photography interest you?
I enjoy many other genres but primarily focus on my digital artistry (using my own images most of the time), portraiture, still life and landscapes. I was recently featured in the international magazine, Living the Photo Artistic Life.