Interview #14: Matthew Franklin Jenkins


CUS: First of all, the most standard question in the book: how did you get into photography?

Matthew Franklin Jenkins: I found one of my dad’s 35mm cameras that he got from Vietnam in the attic one day and just started shooting away. I think I was about 8 or 9 years old.


CUS: Tell us a little about where you live.

MFJ: I live in Detroit near downtown. Almost anywhere you go in Detroit you’ll see an abandoned building or house. It’s such a big city so there is always somewhere to go or something to do.


CUS: What kind of camera do you enjoy using the most?

MFJ: My canon 5d has been great to me. I loved shooting film but it just gets so expensive with all the expenses that come along with it.


CUS: Do you have a favorite subject you like to shoot? And why?

MFJ: My friend Johnny is the shit. Whenever we get together to take pictures I always come up with something I’m really proud about.


CUS: Do you always have preconceived concepts of what you want to shoot?

MFJ: I usually have an idea but I’m a big fan of just winging things. So usually the finished product looks way different than what I had in my head before the shoot.


CUS: Do you feel that your mood affects the type of photographs you produce on a particular day?

MFJ: I wish that were the case, usually when I’m down about something I just go for a drive or bury myself into a movie and mope on the couch.


CUS: What’s playing on your iTunes right now?

MFJ: The new fear before album, I highly suggest you listen to their lyrics. They are geniuses.


CUS: What are some of your favorite films?

MFJ: Altered states & some girls are my favorite movies.


CUS: What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you on a photo shoot

MFJ: Nothing too weird... I’ve had countless amounts of dudes head walk me / jump on me at hardcore shows. It gets a tad bit crazy sometimes. When I was in Maryland taking pictures of the number 12 looks like you I witnessed a guy in a hardcore crew throw a bar stool off of a balcony onto some drunk girls face. Like I said... shit gets crazy.


CUS: If you could photograph any person (past or present) who would you choose?

MFJ: There have only been two people to the bottom of the ocean (the Mariana trench) and I would love to take pictures of those guys.


CUS: Do you have a favorite photographer?

MFJ: I don’t really follow too many photographers, but Ryan Russell’s work is pretty rad. and I always look up to my friend Paul Octavious / dunny from Chicago.


CUS: What’s your fondest childhood memory?

MFJ: Sitting on the porch swing with my mother before & during storms that would come through.


CUS: If every photograph should contain one key element, what would it be in your opinion?

MFJ: Originality, but it’s so hard to achieve that nowadays.


CUS: What have you always wanted to photograph but have thought was too hard or difficult to execute?

MFJ: Photos of the earth from the moon. I love the universe.


CUS: What are your other hobbies besides photography?

MFJ: Thrifting, playing the accordion, making music with my pal Tony Katai, tennis.


CUS: You seem to take photographs in many different places across the U.S.; did you go on a road trip with your friends? And if so what was your favorite stop?

MFJ: I was on tour with a bunch of my friend’s bands over the past year. I fell in love with Arizona though. being on tour was great and all but I didn’t shoot as much as I wanted to because we were always on a tight schedule and the only places we really got out of the van was at the venues, gas stations, or hotels.


CUS: What is your favorite time of day to shoot?

MFJ: The evening is great. Or any time of the day as long as clouds are in the sky. I really want to start shooting on rainy days as well.


CUS: What is something that no one knows about you?

MFJ: Haha, I don’t really have any secrets about anything... I say what’s on my mind. 


CUS: What is your favorite photograph that you’ve taken, and what’s the story behind it?

MFJ: This one. There’s not a big story or anything behind it, but it’s one of my first photographs that I’ve been really stoked about it.


CUS: What is the thing you like the least about photography? The most?

MFJ: The least would be that too many kids are doing it nowadays. It’s really killing it for me.
The most would be that I can do anything I want with it. The possibilities are pretty much endless. I just need to find that motivation every once in a while.


CUS: If you could go anywhere in the world to take photographs where would you go?

MFJ: The Bermuda triangle to take pictures of what all the hype is about.


CUS: Where does your inspiration usually come from?

MFJ: Motivated people.


CUS: Do you believe that with the rise of digital photography the phrase “everyone can be a photographer” is true?

MFJ: Yes and no. depends on what your term of photographer is I guess. But a lot of people, especially band photographers, don’t give two shits about the photograph itself. They just have knowledge of lighting a photo properly and have a fat wallet to buy a great camera so the quality is bomb. It takes away from the art, and I hate that.


CUS: If you could be anyone for a day who would you be?

MFJ: Zombie Einstein.


CUS: Do all your photographs go through some sort of post-processing treatment? And if so what kind of effect do you try to produce through Photoshop/other post-processing tools?

MFJ: They do. I just try to make my photos interesting looking.


CUS: What are your plans for the summer?

MFJ: Hopping in my car and driving probably towards the west and just living out of my car. I think I might want to do this for a month or two. BUT I might be going to Europe? My friend from Maine might be taking me along with her. It would be such great news if that goes through.


CUS: Where do you see yourself in 20 years? Do you think that photography will still be a big part of your life?

MFJ: Smoking big ass cigars outside of my shack house on the beach somewhere with my dog & wife.


CUS: Our last interviewee, Nikki DeCarlo, wants to know: If you had only one day to live, what is the last thing you would take a photograph of?

MFJ: A big ol family portrait with all the people that have made an impact on my life.


CUS: Last but not least, what would you like to ask our next interviewee

MFJ: If you were put into pure nothingness for eternity, but that nothing had a color... what color would that be?

Matthew Franklin Jenkins from Detroit, Michigan


Images provided by Susannah Benjamin. All rights reserved.