Matthew Jordaan loves nothing better than telling stories through photography and video. This multi-facetted Cape Town creative is also skilled in video production and editing, graphic design, web design and development, and social and online media communication. With over two decades of experience, Matthew has worked with print and online media in South Africa and beyond as a multi-award-winning photojournalist and content creator.
Describe yourself in two sentences.
I am a passionate story-teller who is driven to communicate narratives that will impact people to bring about positive change in their, and the reader’s lives. I am a champion for the underdog, and when I am not working as a freelancer, I am a crew member for the NSRI (National Sea Rescue Institute).
Please tell us more about what you do and how long you’ve been a freelancer.
I started in the media industry in 2006 as a commercial photographer, although my passion had always been photojournalism and documentary photography. I became a member of Safrea in 2006/7 initially as soon as I started working. From 2008 until 2015 I worked full-time for Independent Newspapers as a staff photographer and an illustrations editor, serving the Cape Times, Cape Argus, and Weekend Argus. While working with Independent Newspapers I was the recipient of multiple awards including the Vodacom Journalist of the Year, Fuji Professional Photographic Awards, and the Standard Bank Sikuvile Awards.
During my tenure at Independent Newspapers, I also continued with freelance work as a wedding photographer as well as the official photographer for the World Economic Forum on Africa, and the World Economic Forum on India along with fellow Safrea member Eric Miller. From 2015 until present I have begun to branch into multimedia, offering services in graphic design, web design, video production, social media management, and content creation. Most recently I have been working with civil society organisations with my last big contract – handling the social media, video, and photography for 13 civil societies at the World Urban Forum in Katowice, Poland.
What does a day in your life look like?
When I am not working with photography or on video productions, a typical day in my life consists of managing social media for a number of clients as well as website development. I also curate images for an online application based in the United States of America. I try to spend a fair amount of time upskilling myself as well as networking.
Where/how do you find inspiration?
I find a lot of inspiration in literature. The communication industry is all about telling stories, and by keeping oneself immersed in narratives you are able to better craft your own.
What advice do you have for other freelancers?
Freelancing is never an easy game, but it is a rewarding one. The best advice I could give is to keep your name out there. Keep making connections, keep evolving your skills. When you hear about a new technique or platform, try and educate yourself on it. It is important to offer a specialised yet holistic package to your clients. But most importantly, remember you are working with people. Everyone has their own quirks, struggles, and problems – serving these people with kindness, understanding, and empathy, making a true connection with them and not treating them as an income, goes a long way to building lasting working relationships.
How long have you been a Safrean, and why are you a member of Safrea?
I was a member of Safrea from 2006 until 2009 when I went into full-time work with Independent Newspapers, but during that time I remained a supporter and a champion for Safrea – including always ensuring to charge Safrea industry recommended rates and pointing clients towards Safrea to find freelancers. As soon as I went fully freelance again in 2022, I came straight back and it has been like I have never left.
What is your work/life motto?
I don’t have a catchy phrase, but kindness and understanding goes a long way in such a cut-throat world.