WORKAHOLIC // DIANA LEVINE // MATT WORKMAN


 

What do you do?

Diana: I’m a photographer based in New York City, shooting advertising and editorial with brands, ad agencies, record labels, magazines, online media, and more. Matt and I are high school sweethearts, and frequently work together as a photographer/DP team.

Matt: I am a cinematographer or director of photography. I’m responsible for the lighting and camera work on commercials and music videos.


Where is your work space?

Diana: My work space is where ever my shoot is that day. It could shooting be in studio, or on location, it changes every day. In terms of post work, I have a home office where I do my photo editing.

Matt: I primarily work in New York City, but I’ve traveled all over the US and a bit overseas for work.  I can work pretty much anywhere there is an internet connection.

 

How did you get to where you are now?

Diana: When I was in college, I interned for a few different photography departments, and began freelancing at around age 19. After I graduated, I worked in magazines, as a designer and staff photographer. I later left my magazine job to pursue freelance photography fulltime, and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since!

Matt:  During [my sophomore year of high school], I decided to learn 3D animation and then decided to study computer science and computer arts in college. After a couple internships in the 3D/VFX world, I discovered that I enjoyed being on set more than at a computer.  I was lucky enough to be on set for a couple big commercials and from then on I was hooked on production.  


What made you turn to this direction?

Diana: I turned to photography because it was the only thing that felt right. I was always shooting growing up – having photo shoots with my friends with my 110mm camera, making photography “time capsules” of my family, and shooting for my high school newspaper and yearbook. It wasn’t until I started studying photography with my college professor, Stephen DiRado, that I had the courage to decide that I wanted it to be my career.

Matt: Originally, I wanted to be a director because I didn’t really understand what any of the other positions did. The director is responsible for putting his/her personal touch on every facet of the project, where the DP really focuses on the camera, lighting, and blocking. Those were my strengths coming from a visual effects/art background.


Was this always your dream job?

Diana: Pretty much!

Matt: I love the collaboration and the variety of projects I can work on, although, I think my “dream” job might be playing drums for big live concerts for Mark Ronson, Amy Winehouse, and Bruno Mars …


How much of the week is work, and how much is play?

Diana: I would say that 100% of my week is work, and 100% is play 🙂 Even when I’m complaining about having to stay up all night for a shoot, or schlepping equipment, I’m always aware that I’m living my dream, and it’s a blessing to have the opportunities to shoot the things I do.

Matt: I’d say over the course of a month I’m working 70% and playing 30%.  I try to be open-minded and have some form of fun and improvisation, but sometimes I’m more of a manager than an artist.  


How do you find your inspiration?

Diana: Living with a cinematographer gives me a lot of my inspiration! The two of us are constantly researching, talking about ideas, and thinking about our next shoots. In terms of each specific shoot, I’m usually very inspired by the person I’ll be photographing. I love being able to photograph and document the people that influence our culture and generation.

Matt: Through the work that people share online.  It’s a small world in film production and sites like vimeo, facebook, etc. make is easier to stay in touch and see what everyone is producing.  The trick is finding the good stuff.  I’ve recently started keeping an inspiration “board” on pinterest.com


How important is your work, and does it define you?

Diana: I like to think that the importance of my work comes in that I’m helping document our generation and culture.  I do feel like my work defines me, which I think is good because it motivates me — I feel like my photos reflect myself so strongly that I always put in every effort possible to have a shoot come out the best it can.

Matt: The mindset I like to keep is that my work shows the direction that I’m trying to grow towards and that it will continue to develop as I grow as an artist and cinematographer.  I keep the Ira Glass quote in my mind that I’ll paraphrase:  “When you are starting out, you have really good taste, but you aren’t able to produce work at the level you want.  Eventually you get better but taste is what separates you from everyone else.”


What has been the most exciting thing you have done with your work, and what is a dream situation you’d like to find yourself in?

Diana: Some of my favorite work has been photographing incredible musicians and personalities, like Alicia Keys, Billy Corgan, Usher, Elvis Costello, John Legend, and Kim Kardashian. Working with people like that make me feel like I’m part of history.

Matt:  The most excited I’ve been for a job was the first big music video I shot back in 2006-2007.  I was a senior in college and I got flown out to LA from NYC to shoot a big studio green screen video for KRS-ONE.  The director was Todd Angkasuwan and he took a big chance with me.  Diana even got to come along and she made an amazing book of photos from the shoot.

 

How do you define your personal style, work and clothing, etc.

Diana: Matt will probably have a better answer for this 🙂 At best, my style could be described as “functional”! I can’t shoot comfortably if I’m uncomfortable in my clothes, so you’ll usually find me in jeans, a black shirt, and sneakers or boots.

Matt: Hah, I’d say a WIP in all categories.  Fashion/style is one of the things I’ve been exploring since I moved to NYC.  Northface is a staple in NYC production, probably the best investment you’ll make.  A solid pair of work boots and I’m spending way too much money at All Saints these days.


Do you listen to music during your work day?

Diana: YES! We usually have music on during studio shoots, to bring up the energy on set.

Matt: Not really. If I’m on set I’m constantly communicating with my team to make sure we are on schedule; we are getting what we are supposed to, and just trying to survive. 


What’s something someone may not know about you?

Diana:  I work a lot to raise money and awareness about Parkinson’s disease. My Mom, who is my best friend and my biggest support, has Parkinson’s and it’s a huge part of my life.

Matt: I love huskies, but I’m allergic to dogs. Tragedy of my life.


Anything else you would like us to know?

Diana: Thank you so much to the Work Magazine for asking us to do this interview! I think it’s really cool to have done this together because so much of our lives and work are intertwined. Both of our lives and work are better with each other in it, and I’m so appreciative to have had Matt by my side throughout our careers.

Matt: My nickname for Diana is “Bear” and when we form a company together I’d like to integrate “bear’ into the name … so look out for that!


Check out Diana’s work below and at: http://www.dianalevine.com

Check out Matt’s work below and at: http://www.mattworkman.com


—Elizabeth Baudouin

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