1. As I was browsing your fall issue of your online magazine, I noticed that you not only style nearly every story, but also photographed the entire publication. Obviously, you have a natural eye for design, style and photography. What is your background and training?I’ve been styling and producing editorial stories for more than 15 years. I was an English major at the University of New Hampshire but always knew that design was my true love. My mother introduced me to the work of Mary Emmerling (the queen of country design) back in the ’80s and I was hooked. Once out of college I began developed a portfolio of images with a local photographer and writing letters to Mary and other style luminaries.
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Long story short, I became friends with Mary as she began producing her own magazine and became a contributor. Mary soon moved on to be Creative Director at Country Home and I joined her there as style editor and produced many, many beautiful stories for 12 years. I’ve met hundreds of talented and creative leaders over the years and have been fortunate to work at a level where my work advertises what I can do.
I am totally self-taught in my career … I see my ideas and work in images in my head so I am really able to formulate my final image prior to production or photography. It has been such a wonderful and exciting field of work and I enjoy every chaotic challenge of creating seasonal ideas for my readers.
The photography began about 4 years ago when the bottom dropped out of publishing and Country Home closed its doors. I decided in order to save my business and work in the new “low/no” budget industry that I needed to be a one-stop shop for my clients.
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I learned the photography end and began producing my own work. Aside from what my readers see, I have many commercial clients, including an arm of Dove Chocolate and Lowe’s Home Centers.
2. Of all of the hundreds of features you have styled, what has been your all-time favorite? And which feature has gotten the most attention?
There was a pumpkin story that I did for Country Home back in 2004 that was a very artful look at heirloom pumpkins and the paint colors they inspired. It was a beautiful and painterly story and so many readers loved it. I still get it as tear sheets from many clients.
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Since I started my own magazine, it is such a joy to be part of every step of the work. I especially like features on artisans and designers and visiting them at their studios and homes. A recent visit was one with designer Tricia Foley. She has always inspired me and now with my own magazine I get to work with her … it is a dream job.
3. You play many roles while while producing the magazine. What is your favorite part of the process? What do you least like doing?
I am part of every aspect of the process. By far, I love picking all of the props and then photographing and styling. Editing and choosing the final images is a dream and having creative control is such a true joy. Not fond of the warehousing process and the distribution of the magazine or picking up and returning props after, but it is a treat to hold the final product in your hands and find that you have really relayed something new to readers.
4. Every page in your magazine is perfect. We all know it takes a lot of work to get it that way and things don’t always go as planned. Can you tell us about a behind-the-scenes disaster and how you recovered the situation?
First, I have an incredible team that has been with me for my career, that includes my wife and two assistants, both named Lisa. Much of the pressure of work comes from others expectations but I have been fortunate to have much of my work be independent of clients on the set. We’ve had a few situations where one-of-a-kind items have fallen off the wall and gotten broken, but one of the most memorable shoots was a feature that included children, ice cream, a dog parade and a visiting editor in chief, all on a hot summer day.
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We planned well and placed all the ice cream in a chest freezer in the back of a pick-up and plugged in to an outlet whenever we could. We wrangled children in one area with games until their time on the set, and kept the dogs separate but occupied until needed. The ice cream was perfect, no one got bit or riled and the day went off with out a hitch. Except the bunny someone brought instead of a dog was too terrified to march in the parade. But as far as working with both children and animals, it was a success.
5. What is next for the Matthew Mead brand?
We are expanding. The magazine will likely become a nationally distributed quarterly. We now have a beautiful product line, which will be growing over the next year.
We are delving into video with our own YouTube channel so readers will be able to really be part of all the action at the studio as we live, work and create new and simple lifestyle ideas. I am the food photographer for the Associated Press which keeps me busy and I will continue to find more ways to help clients bring their products to life.
“Holiday With Matthew Mead” is available at newsstands, as well as online.
Matthew, In His Own Words
I am 43 years old and have been married to my wife Jenny for 15 years. I have two grown step-daughters and was born and raised and still reside here in Concord, NH. I have always felt fortunate to be here in New England as I can really capture all four seasons and make use of all the beautiful, natural surroundings. I have a daylight studio in a nearby town, which is equipped with a kitchen and a large area for pulling together sets. I am a ravenous collector of all things and am lucky to house my collection close by so that I can easily pull projects together for photo shoots. One day I hope to have a destination location where people interested in the process can see a magazine photo shoot unfold, shop a store of interesting props and artisan items and enjoy organic farm to table food at a restaurant. Its a dream with miles to go … but you have to have dreams.