I recently had the honor of attending Dent the Future as their longtime documentarian & event photographer. Dent has always placed photography in the highest regard, but this year felt particularly special. Between the featured speakers, the focus on fine art photography, and the magical touch of photographer Asa Mathat, this Dent conference was a celebration of the photographic arts.
The Dent Photography Community
Dent has cultivated an incredible community around photography. Each year I lead a Photowalk activity, gathering photography enthusiasts for creative collaboration and fun. The Photowalks are a beloved Dent tradition that underscore the event’s commitment to the photographic arts.
This year, legendary photojournalist Rick Smolan spoke about his globe-spanning career and the creative risks he took to maintain his artistic vision. Collector and educator Michael Rubin also presented on his lifelong passion for collecting fine art photography, emphasizing photography as a minimalist art form akin to haiku. In 2019 I got to rub shoulders and become friends with portrait GOD William Coupon and he presented his work in a moving slideshow. Their talks inspired the Dent audience and reminded us of photography’s storytelling power.
The Man Behind the Lens: Asa Mathat
But the spotlight shined brightest on Asa Mathat. Asa is known for setting up photo studios and doing speaker portraits at the world’s premier events. His specialty is capturing striking images of each conference’s VIPs. At Dent, Asa brought his A-game. He constructed a top-notch portrait studio and proceeded to photograph over 100 attendees with precision and ease.
The Experience of Being Photographed by Asa Mathat
When my turn came, I was thrilled to finally experience Asa’s process firsthand. As an event photographer myself, I’ve long admired his work from a distance. But being the subject of his lens took my appreciation to a new level. Asa quickly put me at ease, guiding me through subtle poses and adjustments while cracking jokes. His years of experience were obvious; he knew exactly how to draw out each person’s essence. The final images of me felt vibrant, thoughtful, and profound.
Learning from a Master
Beyond making my portraits, Asa enlightened me with photography insights. He shared Lightroom techniques, discussed his creative approach, and demonstrated his gentle directing skills with subjects. I soaked up every bit of wisdom from this photography guru. It was a masterclass just being in Asa’s orbit for that session.
Comparing my own event photography to Asa’s work, I’m reminded that studio portraiture requires a different energy. Asa slows down, makes a connection with his subject, and brings out something personal. His focus is 100% on them.
My work as an editorial photographer involves more distraction – capturing candid moments throughout the event’s activities. Both approaches have value, but I’m inspired to incorporate more of Asa’s style into my portraits moving forward.
The Future of Event Photography
The photography at Dent has always been superb, but Asa Mathat’s presence made this year exceptional. His portraits will become treasured mementos for all attendees. And for me, the experience reaffirmed photography’s unique power to inspire meaningful human connection.
If Dent is a glimpse into the future, then photography will continue glowing brightly, bringing people together through Asa’s artistry and the shared love of a great image.
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