1. What’s in your camera bag and what do you use for post-processing?
I shoot with a Nikon D810 and Tamron lenses. Currently I shoot with the 15-30mm 2.8 and the 24-70mm. I use Adobe Lightroom for the bulk of my editing. I use Photoshop sometimes to reshape the photo or reduce noise if needed.
2. At what age did you start shooting, and what got you started?
I dabbled with film cameras 20 years ago when I was in high school, but nothing serious. I got a DSLR as a gift, it was an old Nikon D70, 6-megapixel. After it sat around for a few months, I picked it up and never put it down, that was 3.5 years ago. That was the beginning of the addiction.
3. I know you’ve done a ton of traveling. What country or US state has been your favorite for abandoned buildings?
I would say hands down my best experience for exploring abandoned buildings was St. Louis, MO. Also the abandoned Petite Ceinture railway in Paris was amazing, even though it is not an abandoned building.
4. What’s your dream location?
I would love to go to Germany and explore some of those abandoned buildings but I definitely would want to get friendly with some locals first so they could get me in to all the good spots. (wink wink)
5. Abandoned locations are few and far between in your area. How do you usually find them?
I find a lot by walking around downtown with my camera and seeing what kind of opportunities arise. Jacksonville downtown is 60% vacant, so there are plenty of abandoned buildings, but most of them have no character because they are too new.
6. What do you like/dislike about exploring in Florida?
I would say I hate the heat, both from the sun and the police... and the flesh eating mosquitos ain't no joke out here.
7. How would you describe the urbex scene in North Florida?
Actually I try to stay away from most of the people who consider themselves part of the scene here, I am 43 and a lot of these kids do a lot of stuff I don't agree with and get spots busted real quick. I try to keep my circle small with the few good homies I trust and shoot with, and keep the drama low.
8. What other types of photography are you into?
My main passion has to be shooting live bands and concerts which I have been doing for a few years for a couple media outlets. I have been lucky enough to shoot almost all of my favorite bands and it has been like a dream. Landscape of course I will always love, and nature. But ultimately I'll shoot anything you put in front of my camera if I think it looks cool. I try not to limit myself to one thing because I do get bored after awhile.
9. What are you doing when you’re not shooting?
Hanging out with my family and my 1st child, baby Zayne. He rules my world. I guess you can also say cooking is one of my hobbies or eating gummy bears and laying on the couch doing nothing. Plus, I own and operate Consignment City Marine which is a boat dealership out here in Jacksonville, FL.
10. What’s been your favorite destination so far?
Nothing to do with abandoned buildings but we went to Iceland in October 2016, and I have to say it was one of the most amazing places I have ever seen. Even though I tried getting the Northern Lights every night and failed, it gives me a reason to go back.
11. A lot of your photos have a dark feel to them. How did you develop this style and what would your advice be to someone who’s trying to find their own unique style?
Honestly that is the way I have always done my photos and it might have something to do with my life being so dark the last few years due to my father's death and a few other things. Trust me if I was happy as a clown I would be posting rainbows and unicorns. My best advice to find your own style is to NOT try to find your own style, but keep shooting and things will fall in to place eventually. Also, be a fan of photography and support your friends, but don't ever try to emulate someone else's style too much.
12. Has fatherhood changed anything about your photography?
Well its made me want to post baby pictures every other day, but I won't do that to my followers. I'll just flood my instagram story with them, as some of you may know. LOL Obviously the freedom to go shoot and stay out late every night is less frequent, but I wouldn't change it for the world.
13. Will Zayne play a song on a guitar or shoot a picture in full manual first?
What do you mean? He is already dropping bangers and playing Stairway to Heaven backwards. Nah, I'll be happy with either one of those, but he's definitely going to be exposed to as much arts as I can possibly show him. My wife is a professional cellist, and I have been playing guitar most of my life, so there is a good chance he will be a musician before anything else.
14. What do you have coming up? Any new equipment you’re waiting on, locations to visit, or will you be showing your work?
I am showing/selling my work currently in a few local restaurant galleries. I do plan on a trip to Utah or the desert in the next year or so. I've explored a lot abroad but I feel like I've neglected my own country because there is so much to see. Plus I have been waiting to shoot the Milky Way with no light pollution for the first time and Utah seems like the spot. As far as equipment goes, the only thing I really need is the 70 - 200 2.8 to complete my trinity of lenses. That will have to wait until I decide to give myself a Christmas bonus.
15. Where can we follow your work?
Tinder. HAHA jk.
Instagram - @matt_bluejay.
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/mattbluejayphoto/