Rosie Matheson, Photographer

Rosie Matheson is a London-based documentary film photographer. Her latest project, Boys, challenges the notion of masculinity through intimate portraits of young men.

Looking at life through a viewfinder from an early age, Rosie’s work is about connection, about seeing the depth within a person’s story, and capturing it in a frame.

Rosie talks to us about her love for film, the best piece of advice she ever received, and photo books that inspire her work.

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Gun Nation,
by Zed Nelson

“Thought-provoking, documentary photography that really opened my eyes at a young age with themes of storytelling, education, and social commentary through photography. One of the first books I remember intensely studying and it's still relevant today.”


Permanent Error,
by Pieter Hugo

“The colours in these photographs are so incredibly rich, emotional, and make such powerful and striking portraits. The images demand our attention, it's not a book you flick through, it really makes you think and question the ugly truth of our world. I remember seeing the exhibition of these images at Deutsche Börse Photography Award Exhibition and I was instantly fascinated. It's a book I treasure.”


Magnum Contact Sheets,
by Kristen Lubben

“An opportunity to look at which photos made the cut and how the edit was decided. An insight into the creative process. I love seeing the outtakes and thought process towards the final image by some of history's finest photographers.”


Imperial Courts,
by Dana Lixenberg

“Beautiful and powerful black and white portraits telling a story of a community based South of LA. Each portrait is so well thought about, detailed and honest to each individual — all shot on large format.”

A CONVERSATION WITH Rosie Matheson.png

Rosie, what is something in your industry that deserves more attention?


People! Young photographers that are working hard and crafting something special. I think too many people get to places because of who they know rather than their talent. There needs to be more recognition for a wider reach of people. I think the industry is still very "cliquey" especially in London, it's more about how cool you are and that needs to stop!

People also need to be paid their worth — it's getting boring having to do it for the exposure because this is a livelihood! 

Describe a photographic memory of a moment that changed things for you.

Definitely my portrait of 'Elliott'. It's safe to say that photo changed my career, especially having it featured in the Portrait of Britain Award in 2016. It boosted my confidence, encouraged me to keep shooting portraits, and for the first time in my career, I had an image go viral.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received? 

To rely on no one and to do it yourself. You have to teach yourself some self-discipline, to get up, go out, and work hard everyday. 


I always wanted to assist my parents' friend and photographer Zed Nelson full-time. He let me work with him occasionally, but I was at the stage where I still had a lot to learn and a style to figure out. He told me to shoot everyday and to get on with it myself. If you have the drive, no one can stop you.

What does film bring to your work that digital can’t, and vice versa?

Damn! Everything—honesty, intimacy, a real connection with the subject. Shooting film makes the time spent with a subject more about a conversation and less about the photos — meaning you can truly capture someone and they have to trust you.

Shooting digital is more about reviewing the photos as you go, and a true moment is never really created. I try to stay away from digital, but I guess it's good for a super tight deadline!

Photo Illustration by Jeffrey Phillips