Publications, The New York Times Lens Blog

The New York Times Lens Blog Turning Point Series: Matt Eich on Rich-Joseph Facun

Finding Clarity in Ambiguity
October 13, 2010, 1:30 pm

Matt Eich, a freelance photographer based in Norfolk, Va., is a founding member of Luceo Images. Mr. Eich, who was born in 1986, focuses on the sense of identity found within communities. This year, he was named one of PDN’s 30 emerging photographers to watch. He has also received awards from Pictures of the Year International. His conversation with Amanda Rivkin has been condensed.

Q. How was this picture taken?
A. I was in Amsterdam for the Joop Swart Masterclass last November. It had been a week of crazy discussions with photographers from around the world who all speak a slightly different version of this visual language. You could always get interpretations of your work and ways to view your work. We were all sort of reeling from these conversations we had been having.

Toward the end of the week, we all went out to a bar and I snapped a few pictures, one of the back of this guy’s head. It jumped out later when I went back to it. It was then that I lost the sense of guilt that used to come from making pictures that didn’t have an actual narrative. I started to become more comfortable with ambiguity and with the sort of timelessness.

Q. How has this image changed the way you work?
A. This was a kind of milestone. The master class gave me the opportunity to shoot something personal beyond the bounds of what I was used to doing. I started to piece things together and have continued with that project.

Inspiration: Rich-Joseph Facun
Image: “Waiting.” 2007.

Q. When did you first come upon this image? How?
A. I have known Rich for a while. We grew up in the same area. I feel like we have had similar paths; where we went to school and where we are from. He was working for The Virginian-Pilot. My dad called me up and said, “Rich had this awesome photo today.” My mom sent it to me, too.

It provoked a very strong response. There are photos that speak to other photographers and those that speak to a much broader audience. There is something timeless about that particular image, especially in an area with a large military population. It spoke to the audience very clearly.

Q. What do you like about this image?
A. I love the fact that it is technically a great photograph, but it’s so much more than that. It’s this moment in time. It’s a modern interpretation of something that has happened for decades and will continue to happen; families separated by war, waiting for daddy to come home.

Being able to go out into these routine situations and come away with photographs that tell this larger story — they have to really work hard to bring something away. Rich can consistently do that.

Q. How has it influenced your work?
A. I can’t really think of one image changing anything. It’s a cumulative thing.

“Turning Point” is an occasional series featuring images by young photographers. The column was conceived by the 26-year-old photographer Amanda Rivkin.

Previous Turning Point Columns:

Wednesday, Aug. 4
Amanda Rivkin, 26.
Inspired by Dorothea Lange.

Wednesday, Aug. 11
Aga Luczakowska, 29.
Inspired by Stanley Greene.

Wednesday, Aug. 18
Robert Caplin, 27.
Inspired by David Alan Harvey.

Wednesday, Aug. 25
Yana Paskova, 28.
Inspired by Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Wednesday, Sept. 1
Ayman Oghanna, 25.
Inspired by Alex Webb.

Wednesday, Sept. 8
Newsha Tavakolian, 29.
Inspired by Naser al-Din, the shah of Iran (1848-96).

Wednesday, Sept. 15
Maja Hitij, 26.
Inspired by Kevin Carter.

Wednesday, Sept. 22
Ed Ou, 23.
Inspired by Finbarr O’Reilly.

Wednesday, Sept. 29
Mustafah Abdulaziz, 24.
Inspired by Richard Avedon.

Wednesday, Oct. 6
Justin Maxon, 27.
Inspired by Antoine d’Agata.