Inspired to photograph the world

Matthew Lowrie '18 wrote this blog post about his passion for photography, which landed him the rare Form V (Grade 11) exhibition in Landow Gallery during the 2016-17 school year — a joint show that also featured paintings by his brother Andrew '17. In addition to being a National Scholastic Art Awards winner for photography, Matthew is a varsity cross country and track runner and the two-time editor-in-chief of the Brown and White yearbook.

I became interested in photography when my grandfather gave my brother and me a subscription to National Geographic. Everyone knows of the legendary images that have been in the magazine for decades by the greats like Ira Block, David Burnett, Paul Chesley, Jimmy Chin and others. You may not be familiar with the names, but the images have a lasting impact. Ira Block is perhaps best known for his photographs of the destruction from 9/11, David Burnett for his work in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, Paul Chesley for his photos capturing Asian culture, and Jimmy Chin for being Nat Geo's go-to guy for anything to do with mountains. These people, among countless others, inspired me to emulate their success purely for the sake of getting a "cool" photo, something I still do today. I never expect to get a good shot and, in fact, usually don't. A good day out taking photos may only yield two to seven usable images, or at least just ones I like.

I was only able to buy my first camera — a Canon Eos Rebel T5i with a lens kit — because my dad offered to split the cost with me after I had worked for a good portion of the summer and hadn't made quite enough money for it. His support was one of the most meaningful, not only as my father but also as someone who had, in his past, prided himself on being quite the impressive amateur photographer.

I bought my camera in May of my eighth grade year and didn't get to use it much, mostly out of fear since most nice things I'd had up until then I broke somehow. But I proved myself responsible on an eighth grade summer trip run by Mr. Brad Rose, who not only allowed but encouraged me to take as many photos as possible for those eight days in New England with some of my classmates. Mr. Rose still helps me to this day either by helping me decide what to put in for competition or just by shooting the breeze; he is another supporter who I couldn't have done without.

This brings us to the most encouraging and influential body of people along my artistic journey, those people at school who I see every day. Whether it is classmates, teachers, coaches or even the headmaster, they all kept telling me that they loved my photos — and I had to keep proving to them that I was worthy of their praise. I will attempt to name them all throughout this, but should I leave someone out just know that any feedback you give me has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated.

I left that eighth grade trip with a thirst for more after I took a total of more than 3,000 photos in eight days, and that summer I bought four memory cards and planned to fill them up. I did not. In fact, I didn't touch my camera again until school started, and I began taking Media Arts (aka photography class with some Photoshop stuff every now and then) with Ms. Laura John.

She was the one who opened my eyes to everything that a camera could do and, in my opinion, is responsible for my skill today. (My gratitude, I fear, isn't displayed enough: Ms. John, your guidance and assurance is what has formed me into the photographer and, by extension, the person I am today. Thank you.) The first day of us going out and taking photos is still a fond memory of mine. I was so excited to finally be doing it again that I nearly dropped and broke my camera; luckily the only other person in the class was star football player and now graduate Keith Simms '16, who caught the camera and handed it back to me with his comical grunt/laugh. Keith also helped by instilling his belief in my photography every class.

My classmates and close friends eventually started noticing that I carried a camera everywhere and, after a while of me just doing it, began asking me to come to their sports games and get photos of them. Their support of my taking photos grew into a symbiotic support for one another where I would cheer from behind the lens during the game for them and they would make their support known off the field with compliments and requests. I honestly feel spoiled with the relationships that have grown from this and that continue to grow.

All of this has led up to me going for photo sessions on my own (how I like to work) while listening to music for several hours or having the occasional internal dialogue. I can honestly say that it lies mostly in the ability to take photos and the support of the community around me combined with a lot of time spent "in the field" to get me to where I am today.

As for the gallery show, that is all Mr. Ricky Sears '99, another supporter of my work and quite an enthusiastic one at that. He has been the one not only to help with the logistics of having a show in our gallery, but also the one who helped give me the confidence and guidance to put my work on such public display. And finally to thank those people not previously mentioned whose open support has been most helpful (in no particular order): Sam Hanson '18, Michael Carr '18, Luc Schermer '18, Mrs. Beverly Sivaslian, Mr. Walt Bartman, Coach Addison Hunt, the Communications Office, and Mr. Aaron Brophy. For those mentioned above and to those people I regretfully left out, I have two words for you: thank you.

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