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Meet the Maker - Matt Roberts

Matt Roberts

Meet Matt, the Maker behind Humans of Long Beach

"In May of 2008 I arrived in America from a cold, wet town in the north west of England with the whole of my previous life stuffed into the suitcase that I carried. Quite literally a brand-new beginning. In the years preceding my arrival I’d developed a strong wanderlust that still demanded feeding, and not long after my arrival I’d found myself a new hobby, cycling to all parts of my new hometown of Long Beach to explore, taking pictures of anything and everything along the way."


Read his story below

How did you get your start? 

One day I read an article about a chap named Brandon who had started a blog called Humans of New York. Its premise was simple, photographs of the city's populace accompanied by short stories or anecdotes provided by the people whose picture he had taken. Some time later I noticed ‘Humans’ blogs starting up on Facebook from cities all around the world and decided it was high time my new hometown, which by now I’d fallen in love with, deserved one too. Humans of Long Beach was born.

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“People, as opposed to buildings or landscapes, are by far my favorite subject matter for both shooting and observing and I could spend hours looking at the pictures of the people I capture [on film]. ” 

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Describe your perfect day out and about locally.  

On the culinary front, my wife and I’s favorite spot for dining is either a seat at the bar in Los Compadres or out front at, quite literally, our local sushi spot, @Sushi on 2nd Street. For libations I much prefer the grittiness of a ‘real’ bar populated by ‘real’ humans. The best bar in Long Beach that fits that bill? House of Hayden on 1st.

 

Describe your day at home in your workspace.

Like many people, I lost my job as a direct result of the pandemic and spent the latter part of 2020 on the unemployment scrapheap. Now working again, my office is a compact, makeshift set up in the corner of the living room, a small desk dominated by two huge monitors. The good news is I’ve been able to bid adieu to my daily slog up and down the 405 freeway. Now it’s more a case of rolling out of bed, put the kettle on and get to it. The downside is the lack of human contact.

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   “Catching sight of the postman coming down the street is enough to give cause for cartwheels around the living room prior to greeting him on the doorstep with a smile.”    

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 What holds more value: Creativity or Knowledge?

I don’t consider myself to possess much of either but for me it’s creativity. When the pandemic hit it really struck a blow to the Humans of Long Beach blog I’d been maintaining for the previous eight years. For the first three months HOLB went virtual. People would send me their thoughts on the virus, how it was affecting their lives, how they saw the future etc and it made for really interesting reading. Going out and meeting strangers was obviously out of the question so Humans of Long Beach ground to an involuntary halt. Suddenly, I found myself in need of something to occupy my time. The Humans of Long Beach book I’d created a couple of years earlier had been well received by most and had raised over $3,000 for a subject close to my heart, that of homelessness in our city. Knowing absolutely nothing about creating a book it had been a fascinating project for me but, as with most things in life, I always felt when it was finished it could have been done better. Now, unemployed and with nothing to occupy my time I decided to attempt to do just that and create a follow up book. After eight years of patrolling the streets of Long Beach searching for stories I knew I had the material, I just had to collate and edit it. I’m hoping to have it ready for Christmas 2021 and I’m sure you’ll be able to get hold of it at our friends from LBC’s best store, MADE. Watch this space.   

     

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