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Konnor J. Durante is a published Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia area commercial and editorial photographer. Focusing his efforts on portraiture, commercial, and editorial photography, in the Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley areas.

Matthew Thompson | @matthewm.thompson


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Being a part of the art community in 2019 as a young creative can feel as if you’re a spec among the masses of talented artists in your field. It’s both incredibly overwhelming and also utterly isolating. With this new project I want to try and alleviate this feeling for myself, by putting my boots on the ground and reviving a personal project I gave myself in college. This is the first of that revival. I spent the day with my old roommate who is pursuing a career in the world of fashion photography; not an easy goal, and asked him about his relationship with photography. This isn’t an interview. This is a conversation.

Matt working with his go to Medium Format Camera; the Pentax 6x7

Matt working with his go to Medium Format Camera; the Pentax 6x7

Some background…

This project came to me at a time where I was taking a break from social media, I was letting the algorithms and numbers dictate how I saw myself as a young creative and I had to put a stop to it. During this time Matt had reached out to me asking if I would like to come up and assist him on a fashion shoot for an agency up in NY. I had nothing going on that day and I always enjoyed working with Matt so I agreed. When we were in school together we would go up to the city all the time with two full backpacks of scrapped together gear and a loose idea of a game plan. We used to talk about what kinds of photographers we wanted to be, Matt knew who he was and what he wanted, he’s determined that way. I on the other hand was a bit more in a state of discovery. I knew this little excursion back into NYC would be good for me mentally, it could be the kick in the ass I needed. TLDR: it was, or you wouldn’t be reading this.

From Philly to Queens

It’s been hot in Philly, and I knew today was gonna be no different. Matt picked me up around 7am and it was already warming up outside, thank goodness our shoot was indoors an awesome AirBnB up in Queens with a killer AC system, but firstly we had a drive where we caught up and talked about our lives. I told Matt I had been struggling with separating myself with these social channels we find our selves on. I had recently been shot down by multiple staff jobs as well as two agencies. His words in response were truly honest, and refreshing to the usual “hey man don’t let that get you down”

“I think the best thing you can do is remind yourself, where does your work come from? It has to come from the heart, that’s the only place truly good photography can come from. No matter what.”

“Every time I go into a new project, or have a new idea I prepare to fail. Then whatever happens as a result I am either prepared for or is a positive outcome!”

We spoke a lot about the state of “influencer” content and how it’s seeped its way into the up and coming photo community. “I think it’s extremely dangerous to chase a constant state of short term happiness. You have to allow yourself these moments of sadness, boredom, and quietness. Nowadays everyone is constantly taking hit after hit of instant scrollable happiness. Happiness in the short term takes away the journey of being happy and fulfilled in the long term. Family, Friends, Passion. These three things are long term ways to be happy, without them none of this is worth anything.”

The Shoot

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We got on location and were elated to find out that the place we were shooting in had AC. It was hot and humid in NY that day and this was gonna make things so much easier. Not to mention the place itself was full of character. Little details littered the Queens based apartment. It was perfect for our model who was the last piece we were waiting on.

Dayna Frazer | @daynafrazer

Matt and Dayna talking shop before getting into the shoot.

Matt and Dayna talking shop before getting into the shoot.

Dayna was our subject for todays shoot, a model Matt has been wanting to work with for a while now, represented by Fenton Management. It’s always a bit nerve inducing, the waiting on your subject to arrive, you never know what they’re gonna be like. Well I can say for certain when Dayna came on set we knew today was gonna be a good day. Dayna came on set with an excitement for the project and the three of us instantly clicked! We spent the first few moments getting to know each other sharing our favorite memes and talking about Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man. It was fun and set the tone for the rest of the shoot, which was just as great as the conversation. With all the curtsies out of the way it was time to get to work.

The natural light coming into the Queens based apartment was perfect, it gave us exactly what we needed

The natural light coming into the Queens based apartment was perfect, it gave us exactly what we needed

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Wrap Up

At the end of a long day of shooting we hit the road and headed back to my hometown, where after hitting horrible traffic, and getting rerouted twice, Matt and I were able to call it a day and relax over some much needed tacos and burritos. I’m glad I texted Matt about wanting to write about the day the night before he picked me up in Philly. I’ve been feeling lost with my photography. I currently assist for a hand full of photographers and shoot for a couple publications, but for personal work I don’t know what makes me happy. I think that’s ok though, cause this did. It filled me with purpose and joy to capture the day with the intention of writing about it. I hope you enjoyed following along on this little journey, I want to do more of these, talk to more artists, write about them and pick their brains. It’s a new path I’m starting myself on, and often that can make me worry about what’s to come, but I’ll leave you with this little piece of advice Matt gave me.

“I don’t want me and my worries to be on two separate teams, it’s a part of me, so whenever I go into a new situation I take what I’m so worried about and I bring it onto my team, I work with it, not against it.” - Matthew


Be sure to go follow Matthew, Dayna, and myself on Instagram to keep up with what we’re all up to when it comes to photography, fashion, and more! If you know anyone in the New York or Philadelphia areas that would make for a good subject to write about or even if that might be YOU be sure to let me know!

Konnor J. Durante