IT is rare I get to chat with a photographer…
so it has been nice to chill with Delroy Matty as he talks about his career and highlights. I ask how he got started in photography and what advice he would give to those wanting to follow his footsteps; which musicians he recommends we check out – he reveals what he wants to achieve by the end of this year.
The photographer gives insight into his process and equipment he uses; what it was like hearing French Montana wanted to use one of his shots in his collection; whether Delroy Matty gets a chance to chill away from photography – I ask him how he feels British Rap and Grime are faring right now.
Hi, Delroy. How are you? How has your week been?
All good, thanks. Just got back from Germany; I was on tour with Chase & Status.
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
Yes. My name is Delroy; I’m a photographer, DM Official Photographer - or others will know me as ‘DMOP’ which stands for 'Delroy Matty Official Photographer'.
Many might recognise your photos of Rap artists. How did you get into music photography?
It started in around 2002 when I first bought my first Sony Handycam DCR-PC5E Mini DV Camcorder from the Loot paper. It was a paper where you could buy local, used items - it was like Gumtree. It could record and take stills. I also had an Olympus C-920 ZOOM camera, 1.3 megapixels. To put it into context, my iPhone 7 is 12.0 megapixels. I started filming and taking photos of local M.C.s rapping in my area like Wiley, Dizzee Rascal; Tinchy Stryder, Sir Spyro etc. that have now gone on to have successful careers in music.
I had a friend, Roony ‘Risky Roads’, that also use to film around that time. In 2006, I went to college to study Photography but soon realised, after finishing college, that there was not a big demand for photographs so I went and got a job in retail. In 2014, I went back to college for two years to brush up on photography and get back up to speed…which brings me up to now. I have worked with French Montana, Post Malone; MoStack, Hardy Caprio; Sir Spyro, Adidas London; Arsenal FC, Nike Footasylum; BBC 1Xtra, Hector Bellerin of Arsenal; Not3s, DJ target; Laughta, Paigey Cakey etc.
Is there a shot or gig that defines your work would you say?
Yes. French Montana, Post Malone and Lil Uzi Vert at Wireless Festival 2018 - showing the world the best moments from an artist on and off stage.
Some claim, because of technology, music photographers are less sought-after. Would you say, in fact, the industry has a huge demand for great photographers?! How has the business changed over the past decade?
In my opinion, I would stay the technology is what has saved photography and I say this because of technology such as Instagram (also, The Dots allows you to show the world your work). I find there is a big demand for photographers: I can only base this on my experience I’ve had. I get contacted by music artists, record labels; brands etc. every week and this reflects in my work that I post.
Rap and British Grime seem to be in the background at the moment. Do you think, given the political times and tensions abound, their voice and place in the forefront is just around the corner?!
I believe that British Rap and British Grime have now set a precedent and it has gone from strength to strength and I love seeing this. What British Rap and British Grime have done is unprecedented: we now have American artists playing British Rap and British Grime music (and working with British Rap and British Grime artists) and this is amazing and a real game-changer.
Is it expensive taking up photograpy and making a go of it?
No, it’s not expensive. You can even start out on your phone, i.e. iPhone or Smartphone. I would say learn photo composition and the rule of thirds - there are lots of videos on YouTube this will help instantly.
One of my biggest gripes is artists without good photos. Do you think great music relies on striking visuals? How many words, in fact, can a picture/photo say?!
Photos and visuals are so, so important as it helps people to recognise you, the artist or the brand. Look. If there was a shelf with two rows of Coca-Cola; one row had the Coca-Cola branding on the can and the other row was still Coca-Cola but had nothing on the can; what one would you pick up? It would be the one with the visual because you know what to expect inside the can but both rows were Coca-Cola but the one with the better image looked more appealing. So, yes, image and visuals very important.
How did it feel to see French Montana and Lil Uzi Vert add your snaps to their collection?
I was really happy to see they both liked what I’d done and it was a really nice thing for them to do. When I spoke to French Montana after the show, he said he really liked the photos and wanted to post them.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
To inspire others that want to get into photography or become creative.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
On tour with Chase and Status in Germany and the Reebok shoot I did for them out there in Germany. They are amazing guys and have a great team.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
I don’t have favourite albums: more books such as The Power of Now, The Third Circle Theory and Beyond the Lens.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Stay focused and practice, practice, practice. Don’t be afraid to work for free when starting to get content out there and, remember, people won’t pay for a service if they can’t see what you have done so good content is key.
IN THIS PHOTO: Laughta
Do you get much time to chill away from photography? How do you unwind?
I don’t get that much time chill at the moment but I like to read books and just chill with friends.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here.
(Laughs) Surprise me...
Follow Delroy Matty