Interview with Matt aka Photo Kubitza

When did you first start getting into photography is it something you have also wanted to do?

My father was a photographer; he owned and operated “Photo Kubitza” in Heidelberg, Germany. A store selling photo equipment, with a laboratory for developing and printing black and white pictures, and a portrait studio. So it was then at an early age that I was introduced to photography. I remember learning about developing and printing at the beginning, then a bit more about portrait photography, and finally sales of cameras and equipment as well. My father made sure I had always a camera, first it was an AGFA camera with 120 roll film. Then my dad graduated me to a 35mm camera, point and shoot, and finally to my Voigtländer SLR. Typically, I shot memories on holidays, landscapes and such.

I emigrated to Canada at 24 years of age, partially to avoid taking over my dads’ business. I did not think that was for me – hobby, yes, but business, no. In Canada I again shot landscapes, then eventually put my camera down. Only after nearing retirement age did I again purchase a camera, thinking this would be a good hobby for me to spend my ‘golden’ years. It was then that I got more into people photography.

Are you self-taught or did you go through any training?

My father was instrumental in showing me the basics: composition, exposure and such. And I observed him making photographs. On one occasion, during my parents’ first visit to Canada, I remember my dad urging me to stop on the trans-Canada highway in the Rockies, back up and park. He then got out his tripod, set his camera up and waited. Being not very patient, I got annoyed with the delay and asked him why he was not done yet. His explanation was: I am waiting for this cloud to move right there – gesticulating. And he was right, it is in this way you make a picture. If he just had me stop to get out of the car and shoot, he would have taken a picture. There is a difference between taking and making a picture. Now I am worse than my dad, waiting and looking for the best angle, the best focal length and such. This is where the self-taught skills come in.

Copyright – @Matt Kubitza (2022)

Which skill did you find the hardest to master and how did you overcome it?

Studio lighting was very strange to me. I did not understand light and how to use it in a studio. It was – again – through observation of a photographer friend that I learned to get comfortable with them. From that moment on I thought rules be damned, I want to light subjects the way I want them to be seen. Many countless hours of experimentation followed; it lies in the experimentation that I learn the best. A pose changes, the light does not work as well anymore. Since I work quite a bit with nonprofessional models it is always an adventure. Often I can leave a light in place and have the model move about until I have the light illuminating them just as I want, other times I need a model to remain in a pose and work on lights until I get it right. It’s always changing.

What camera do you use and what is your go-to lens of choice?

When I first got into DSLR, I consulted a photographer friend of mine. He said it does not matter what brand you chose; most brands are pretty good in the first place. However, he pointed out that with Nikon the lenses were backward compatible, and that one could very good glass second hand. Canon, he told me, changed the mount and therefore was not really backward compatible. So, I chose Nikon, bought a D5000 with Kit lenses, graduated to a D300S, and then bought my first full frame D800. Then D800E, and to this day I could slap myself for selling it when I bought my first mirrorless, A Nikon Z5. Did not take long, and I bought a Z6II, which is the camera I use now the most.

When I rented a Sigma 85mm 1.4 I was impressed with the sharpness and bokeh of this lens. Now I own four Sigma lenses, a 35mm, a 50mm, a 85mm and a 150mm macro. These are my go-to lenses in the studio and otherwise. Although I own some zoom lenses, I find primes are just that much better. The nifty 50 is on my camera most of the time, If I need a wider angle, like in shooting from the top down, I usually use my 35. For portraits – headshots, the 85 is unbeatable.

Copyright – @Matt Kubitza (2022)

If you could invent a piece of photographic equipment you have not seen before to make your job easier, what would it be and why?

I think an AI caddy would be the best idea since sliced bread. Something that was not hindered by paths unsuitable for wheels or carts. Possibly something that would allow me to reach a destination without having to worry about the weight of the equipment I need to take along. And believe me, one camera and one lens don’t always cut it. Hiking into places that are not easily accessible is one of the beauties of photography. But schlepping all the gear around surely puts a damper on the fun. Say you wanted to go to a cave, high up at the end of a long path, and shoot in there, you would need to take flash equipment, stands tripods and stuff along, plus a pile of lenses to always have the correct one at hand.

Do you have any interesting/funny/scary anecdotes you could share with us about any shoots you have done (You can leave names out)

Since I am getting older and older, mishaps occur. I have been in mountain rivers at least four times – not that I wanted to – and the occasional lake or pond. Rocks are slippery, I have learned that now. I guess the worst experience I had was in the Badlands of The Dinosaur Provincial Park here in Alberta. We set out, two photographers and two muses, to do a clay shoot. The whole area is predominantly made up of Bentonite clay, a wonderful natural thing. We brought water, bowls, and clay to have the muses apply the ’slushy’ stuff over their bodies, hair and all. Once it dried and started to crackle just like the surface we walked on, the muses blended into the landscape.

Here I was, shooting with one of the muses, her standing on top of an outcropping, me further away to get both the model and the surrounding landscape into the frame. Once I finished making photographs, I returned to the place where the model was standing. She pointed to a crevasse next to her and said, be careful, this looks deep. Of course, I was careful.

However, one of the hidden dangers in the badlands are thin crusts of ground, where the clay below has eroded and was washed away. Invisible, since it is underground. As my luck had it, I stepped onto one of those “hidden treasures”, only to lose my balance and fall over backwards towards the crevasse. Luckily my fall was stopped by a pointy rock protruding out. I stopped me when my shoulder hit it. It took me ten minutes or so to just sit and gather my breath, and to deal with the pain. When I finally got back to regular breathing, I noticed that this was not the only injury I sustained. To add insult to my situation, I found my left knee full of cactus barbs. A double whammy. The badlands are full of cacti. Oh well

Copyright – @Matt Kubitza (2022)

You have created some impressive pictures and sometimes with multiple models. Is it difficult to get models to pose for you?

Thank you, first of all.

Getting muses to pose for me is not all that difficult. I have established myself as a trustworthy photographer in the community. There is a group of likeminded people I call my friends. Quite often we go on collaborations together, a bunch of shooters and a group of muses. We help one another out with the posing of the muses. At times there are themes to a shoot, and the muses contribute their creativity to those. Most of the time this whole process is very fluid. If we head out into nature, that is the only constant. I also have organized a bimonthly “Friday Night At Matt’s”, a casual get together in my studio. We exchange ideas and try new things. In those situations, there is not only one set of eyes looking at the scene, but there are also more. This helps with posing the muses if needed, help with arranging the lights and so on. All this generally happens on a “Time For Print” basis, no money changes hands. Muses offer their time; shooters reward them with edited images and prints. A good arrangement.

Many of the muses I shoot with are local, so there usually is a very good chance I shoot them more than once. This way you get to know the models and they get to know you, there is a great deal of trust involved. Both parties know what to expect, be it photographer or muse. Boundaries are discussed prior to a shoot to ensure both parties adhere to them. Again, this is where trust can become such an important issue. In a community like Calgary, there are various safety groups in existence, where muses discuss their experiences with photographers. Likewise, photographers talk to one another to assure themselves that they will be safe as well. This conversation is necessary and has prevented some grief, for sure.

Occasionally a travelling model will come through town. Those models are generally highly experienced; this is their job; this is how they earn a living. The expectation is that they will do exactly as told, can hold a pose for a bit, and provide posing ideas. Those sessions are usually limited to a couple of hours or so, but can also last a whole day, especially if I am shooting on location rather than the studio.

If you could arrange your perfect shoot with no restrictions, what if be of and with whom?

A friend once told me that the best shoot will be the next one. Up to that time every shoot is perfect. It has always been my dream to shoot muses in Utah. There are so many wonderful places there, from the red rock mountains to lush forests to old volcanic landscapes. I guess shooting with a muse in “Antelope Canyon” or “The Wave” would be a wonderful experience. As far as with whom – I don’t know how to answer that. One of my very favorite muses is a Calgary local, Marla. Her posing is divine, she has lots of experience and we work wonderfully together. Outings or studio work with Marla always leave me wanting for more. She is just that awesome.

Copyright – @Matt Kubitza (2022)

Do you think social media sites restrict content creators or makes them more creative in finding different ways to express themselves?

My genre, Fine Art Nude, does not work well with some of the social media sites. It is freely accepted on specific websites that have fine art nude as their main theme. is one of those places.

Instagram is particularly cumbersome – I have given up on posting there. I visit the site occasionally to see other peoples work, but I do no longer contribute there. Had too many arguments with META, when it comes to “what I perceive art to be, and what their “community standards” are. Instagram is full of hackers, stealing accounts, impersonating others. Happened to me, and no matter how often I urged META to delete the stolen account, it was no use. So, stealing accounts is ok, but boy, show a female nipple and you are the devil himself.

VERO is a platform that I have been using of late. There are actual people writing you if they find an image they believe is in violation of their standards. They asked me once to remove three images. I showed them the error of their judgment by supplying concrete evidence to the contrary, and they opted to not pursue the matter any further.

It is not clear to me how blurring the bits is creative, or pixelating them, or putting funny icons or a bar over them. To me, this is like spray paint on Michelangelo’s David. You would not do that. Come to think of it: that particular statue is displayed in the Vatican Museum, genitals and all. A world-famous statue in one of the most conservative places on earth. There are no restrictions for minors not to glance upon the statue and ‘accidentally’ see David’s bits. Does that not give rise to thought? The walls and ceilings of Michelangelo’s Chapel Sistine are loaded with nude and partially nude figures. Some with their bits right out there. So why is nudity such an offensive thing in our part of the world?

In fine art nude photography, the subject is the human form. With all its beauty and flaws. I have yet to see a human being without any bits to propagate. However, in fine art these bits are rarely the subject of the artwork created. They are an integral part of a human being. They are not displayed for viewers to get a ‘rise’ out of them or cause sexual excitement. And that in the end is the definition of pornography. I quote Merriam-Webster: “material that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement”. The origin of this goes back to the old Greeks.

I understand that there are efforts afoot to prevent abuse and protect women and children from predators. The United States under Donald Trump passed the FOSTA-SESTA legislation to prevent human trafficking. This legislation binds the social media’s hands. They can be easily sued by letting things slip through. Again, hate speech, bullying, propaganda, and misinformation is widely accepted. But when it comes to artful nudity ……

So how do you include bits creatively in photography? I seriously could not tell you. To comply with some of the sites ‘policies’ I try to put those bits into a shadowy part of the image, as not to offend anyone. But is that the solution? I think not.
End of rant.

What are your goals for the next 2 years?

Getting to know more muses, having fun with photography and editing. One thing I have told my wife on numerous occasions, is that the actual act of making the photograph, the interaction with peers and muses, is the most important thing for me. If some nice images are the result, it’s a bonus. So having fun, cultivating friendships both off and online, exchange of ideas and wisdom, yes, that is what I plan for the next years, until I have to give this hobby up for one reason or another.

Copyright – @Matt Kubitza (2022)

Want to see more of Matt’s work?

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