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For Third Friday Artist Matthew DeYoung, Photography a Professional, Faith-Enriched Calling

Published: Thursday, July 19, 2012

Updated: Thursday, July 19, 2012 16:07

Matthew DeYoung

Courtesy Matthew DeYoung

Matthew DeYoung decided on his career at the age of 13, after stumbling upon some old negatives of drag-racing photos his father took.  DeYoung, now 21, has followed in his father and grandpa’s footsteps and been snapping photos ever since. Using his Christian beliefs as a source of inspiration and looking to God for guidance before he looks through the lens, he said his photography is an act of worship.

DeYoung is the featured artist this month at the Downtown Ambassador Information Center in Phoenix, where photos from his “Illumination” series will be on display. This event marks the first time he has had his work shown in public.

Taking some time away from capturing nature shots, portraits, weddings and events, Matthew spoke with College Times about finding his passion, faith, losing his role model and what the future looks like.

College Times:  What was it like to discover your passion at such a young age?

Matthew DeYoung:  It was confusing. My dad grew up shooting, my grandfather shot pictures. We went to the racetrack and that’s when I first started to shoot. I used my dad’s little old 35-millimeter camera, but I quickly realized I couldn’t just keep taking pictures because it was film. I started using a digital camera, then a huge camera. I wasn’t sure what to do at first. I loved it so much I just wanted to keep taking pictures. […] I was like, I don’t know where to start. I want to take pictures everyday. I want to do this.

What was your first professional camera?

A Canon XTi Rebel. My dad bought it for me for Christmas. My first trip was to Indianapolis with it at the racetrack with my dad. It was the first time I got to shoot full-digital with my dad and the last time. He passed away about a year ago.

Was it difficult to continue taking pictures after your father passed away?

It wasn't. I’ll always have the great memories I got to share with him. It is hard seeing my photography being displayed and not having him at opening nights and gallery openings, but I know he would be proud. I strive to follow in his footsteps and be the man that he was. I miss him a lot and at times really miss that I could call him at any time and ask him questions about photography or just run by a series idea that I have. He would always have answers and more ideas for me.

How does photography connect you to your dad and grandpa?

I’m lucky enough to have all the cameras that my grandfather and father used when they where shooting, so when I’m editing photographs in my office, I am surrounded by their old cameras. The strap that’s attached to one of the cameras is a blue Canon EOS strap that my father used before he gave me that camera.

What are some of your favorite things to photograph?

I love shooting old things in the desert. One of the projects I’m doing right now is called “Left Behind.” [...] [It’s of] people’s cars and trucks or TVs that they’re so excited to buy on Black Friday. Now [those things are] in the desert, in the middle of nowhere, shot up. I love that concept [and] just that it’s not forever. We take too much care of our cars or whatever it may be, and we don’t worry about other people’s lives and hearts.

How does your Christian faith play into what you do?

I’m doing it as a form of worship to God because that’s the gift that he’s given me. The last three series have all been used to bring in my faith. Exploring light is all pictures taken at night, and the saying behind it is “Even in the darkest night, His light will always shine.” It doesn’t matter what you’re going through or how dark it is, His light will always guide you out of it.

Any tips for finding your passion?

Just do what you love. I remember, my mom and my dad told me, if you don’t want to wake up every morning and do something, you’re not doing what you love. Work toward getting what you’d want to wake up for and do. God has given you a gift. Once you find it, you’ll know.

Artist Reception with Matthew DeYoung, Downtown Ambassador Information Center, 101 N. First Avenue, Phoenix, 602.495.1500, Friday, July 20, 6 to 9 p.m., free

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