Interview: Matt Crockett (Comedy Photographer)

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Photo: Matt Crockett

Looking for a break from shows this Fringe, but love comedy? We have just the thing!

This August at the Edinburgh Playhouse, a new exhibition of portrait photography goes on display, featuring the country’s best loved comedians. The exhibit is an extract of “50 Comics”, a project by Matt Crockett, and is presented in advance of a special edition book to be released later in the year. We caught up with Matt to chat about the origins of the project, meeting his idols, and why comedians make interesting subjects…

What kind of photography do you usually do?
My background is theatre and stage photography – a lot of London West End Theatre. The first crossover into comedian photography was my shoot for ‘The Quartermaines Terms’ play with Rowan Atkinson.

Do you have a background in comedy at all, have you ever performed?

No way! In fact the thought of stand up comedy petrifies me. I have so much respect for people who do it. It’s been fascinating chatting to comics about the nature of getting on the mic in front of an audience – I could never do it.

What do you think is interesting about comics in particular to photograph?
People who thrive on making other people laugh is just a fascinating concept. I was just really interested in exploring a set of portraits which aren’t necessarily comedy driven and just depict them in a different way to their usual shots. The brief I wrote to myself was very loose: meet them, chat to them, see what works and go with your instincts!

Who has been your favourite comic to photograph?
I’ve loved working with all 50 (well, 46 so far….) but it always comes back to Reece Shearsmith! He’s been my hero for a decade and the shoot was about 10 minutes long but so joyous! A real bucket-list moment. It also included original prop arms from Gremlins 2 (my favourite movie – I bought them with this shoot in mind) so the chance to forge a ‘collaboration’ between League of Gents and Gremlins was massively exciting! Also, getting James Dreyfus and Kathy Burke back together was pretty magical.

Why do you like to work in black and white?
It binds the 50 portraits together – they’re all shot in different styles and locations so monochrome is a through line to the set of shots. I don’t usual work in black and white but it just seemed to work for this series.

The exhibition runs during the Fringe from the 13th – 16th August, and will be open for free admission between 12.00pm and 1.30pm.

For more information visit www.atgtickets.com/edinburgh or check out Matt Crockett’s portfolio website here.

Follow Matt’s progress on twitter @MrMattCrockett

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