WHEN Matt Brooker’s dad first gave him a camera, when he was a student embarking on a back-packing adventure, photography was just a hobby for him.
Over the years it became Matt’s passion, and now it’s his job.
Matt is not only in business for himself, he is helping those less fortunate.
Last year, he raised €14,000 for St Vincent de Paul (SVP) from a calendar he produced of the local East Cork landscape and coastline, and now he has produced a new one for 2022, with some wonderful shots of Youghal.
Matt explains how it came about: “I was asked to take photographs by a local family for a First Holy Communion, which got postponed due to Covid-19.
“I often post and share photographs on the facebook page ‘Love Youghal’, which has more than 10,000 members from all over the world.”
Matt and his clients went to a scenic venue for the Communion photographs.
“We went to the beach and I took some family photographs there instead. The family insisted on paying me and I said no, and they insisted on giving a donation to charity instead of payment. We agreed upon a local charity.
“That gave me the idea to produce a calendar for the local branch of St Vincent de Paul, which is a very worthy charity and operates throughout Ireland.”
Matt took his cue to raise much-needed funds for the SVP from another source.
“A Youghal lady, Mary McGrath, had previously produced a calendar and that motivated me too, especially when another friend, Olive O’Brien, encouraged me to use my local landscape photographs for such a good cause,” says Matt.
“My prints and photographs all have a Youghal flavour and they feature landscapes in and around the town.
“I had started selling prints and family portraits since I set up my own business in November. Now I work at it full-time.”
Everyone loves a pretty calendar with a local flavour.
“Last year, the calendar sold really well and it raised €14,000 for St Vincent de Paul; 700 copies were sold,” says Matt.
“SVP is a charity close to home and they were very appreciative and very pleased with the amount of money raised for them.
“Covid and lockdown affected charities everywhere. They all need a bit of help.
“This year, I have a more modest aim to raise €5,000 for the St Vincent de Paul through sales of the 2022 calendar.”
Matt previously worked in IT and he moved to Youghal with his wife Mary and their daughter, Martha, seven years ago.
“Mary and I met in London and when her dad passed away, we returned to the family farm and to Mary’s mother, who is 94.
“When I moved to the picturesque town of Youghal in 2015, I was inspired to pick up my camera and make the most of the surrounding coast and countryside.”
Does Matt help out on the farm?
“I don’t,” says Matt laughing. “I must have the softest hands in Cork!
“Mary helps rear turkeys for Christmas and we give them to family and friends. Mary has also given a turkey to the local Vincent de Paul charity at Christmas for the last few years.”
Mary is good at multi-tasking.
“She helps me out at venues like the Ballymaloe Craft Fair, at the Midleton Craft Fair and at the Youghal Christmas Fair, where I sell photo graphs, prints and the calendar for SVP,” says Matt.
“Mary also helps me in studio shoots for make-up artists for instance. I roped her in. She is a superstar!”
There is another superstar in the making.
“When I ask my daughter Martha, who is eight, to sit or model for me, she says she’s charging me a fee! And if she makes the paper, it’s double!
“I entered some of my photographs into the Irish Examiner weekly competition.”
Matt has turned his hobby into his profession and, in the process, is helping others, giving his time and expertise producing beautiful calendars featuring the beautiful Youghal coastline and rugged East Cork landscape.
“When dad gave me my first camera, photography was a hobby of mine,” says Matt.
“Then it became a passion of mine over the years.
“I thought, life is too short not to give it a go. I’m not getting any younger!”
Matt is pragmatic too.
“I hope I’ll still get a 9 to 5 job if things don’t work out!”
His talent and his generous heart will surely give his business every chance of success.
“I hope the donation from this year’s calendar will help a lot of people in lots of different ways in these difficult times,” he says.
Matt thanks all his sponsors and local stockists, who sponsored a month each of the calender to help cover the cost of printing, with himself covering the shortfall.
The calendar in aid of SVP Youghal is €10, available in Supervalu Youghal, and Read & Write Youghal. See Matt’s website, www.mattbrookerphotography.com
About the SVP
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVP), was founded in Ireland in 1844. It is the largest voluntary organisation in the country.
Its focus is on practical approaches to dealing with poverty, alleviating its effects on individuals and families through working primarily in person-to-person contact.
In addition to providing direct assistance to those in need, caring for the homeless, providing social housing, operating holiday homes and other social support activities, the Society promotes community self-sufficiency, enabling people to help themselves.