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Meet Matilde Simas of Mattie’s Studio

Today we’d like to introduce you to Matilde Simas.

Matilde, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Photography has always been a passion of mine.  After spending two years studying digital photography at the Rhode Island School of Design I started my own photography business named Mattie’s Studio, located in North Andover, MA. At the beginning, I worked mostly as a second shooter for different wedding photographers in the Boston area. By my second year in business, I was photographing my own weddings. I enjoy shooting weddings especially because wedding couples today are able to put a lot of their personal stories into their day.

Has it been a smooth road?
Due to the technology of photography developing so fast in the last 15 years it’s been a time of educating clients about why hiring a professional photographer is important. I hear lots of stories from couples who decide to use amateur or cheaper photographers to photograph their wedding day and later regret it. The same with newborn photos.

A couple might have a friend that is an up and coming photographer to photograph their newborn baby. Only to get disappointing photographs back weeks later that are not well light, or the images are blurry. You can’t get these moments back. So, educating the public about the importance of working with a professional has been a big thing for me.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Mattie’s Studio story. Tell us more about the business.
Mattie’s Studio specializes in Wedding and Humanitarian Photography –with a heavy focus on traditional and lifestyle photography.

Lifestyle photography is a photography style that tells the story of a person’s life. It’s done in a documentary fashion, where the client chooses the location for the session – such as their home, their favorite ice cream shop, or their favorite park – and I photograph them living their lives in this environment. I do give clients some direction but for the most part, I aim to capture them naturally.

Lifestyle photography has become very popular. Most of my clients want to be photographed in a candid way. It’s also much easier to capture children in this style. Images are more engaging if you give children something fun to do while being photographed. In this way, you can capture their true laughter and genuine smiles.

What makes me unique?
Most of my clients will tell you that I don’t stop. I am someone who is truly in love with photography and will do whatever it takes to capture creative and natural images.

What I’m most proud of as a company?
Recently I was awarded an International Photography Award from the Lucie Foundation in the category Social Event for a healing portrait series called “Faces Behind Atrocity.” It is a series of adolescent human trafficking survivors, from 4 different nationalities, who have been rescued from the horrors of the trafficking world. With the use of masks, their powerful testimonials, and my lens the survivors and I were able to collaborate with one another to tell their story.

This session serves as a clear example how visual storytelling can empower survivors and amplify their voices for social change. The series was then exhibited as part the UNODC-United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) campaigns during “World Day against Trafficking in Persons.” To read more about “Faces Behind Atrocities” please visit: https://www.photographerswithoutborders.org/online-magazine/2017/11/6/award-winning-faces-behind-atrocity-series-shines-a-light-on-human-trafficking

What sets you apart from others?
I’m tenacious about making a difference with my photography my passion is twofold – I love bringing timeless memories to the hearts of my portrait and wedding clients and I’m also very passionate about how photography can be used for social change. In both, I use photography to tell a story. With my portrait and wedding clients, I am telling the story of a very important momentous occasion.

With my humanitarian projects, I partner with the organization to use photography to tell visual stories. For example, I’m just returning home from a 4-week journey in Medan, Indonesia where I worked with a non-profit organization, Orangutan Information Center (OIC). While there I worked with members of the OIC to educate them on the basics of photography and visual storytelling. By giving the OIC staff the knowledge they need to document the journey of their organization they become their own storytellers.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I’m working toward a certificate at Harvard University in Social Justice. In a few weeks, I start a Human Trafficking class and will be working with the US and Mexican human trafficking organization to continue developing my long-term photography project “Faces Behind Atrocity.” My search is never over for ways that I can help survivors heal and to assist in bringing awareness to the general public.

What were you like growing up? Personality wise, interest wise, etc.
As a first-generation Portuguese-American woman, I grew up in the diverse city of New Bedford, MA. My parents arrived in the United States from the Azorean Island of São Miguel when they were 11 and 23 years of age. São Miguel is the biggest island in the Portuguese Azores Archipelago found in the Atlantic Ocean between the United States and Portugal.

As a child, my weekends were spent participating in traditional Azorean church festivals and learning about my family’s rich history. At the age of 14, I traveled to São Miguel with a family relative and this was the first-time photography entered my life. At such a young age I was able to fully immerse in the culture of my ancestors and document it with my camera for my family and friends. It was an exciting time in my life.

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