Photo by Christopher Atwood

Power Suit

Matthew Roharik is serious about his photography business.

But, it doesn’t have to be such serious business.

A product of the Ohio State University fine art department, Roharik has achieved plenty in his field, building an impressive brand over the past decade as a commercial, advertising, and editorial photographer (including spreads in Vogue). Yet, his local contributions to the creative scene as of late are as intriguing as any his photo shoots.

This year marks his Sixth Annual Columbus Creative Industry Mixer, an event that was born from monthly collaborative themed photo shoot nights at Roharik’s studio and has now sprawled into a full-scale sponsored networking extravaganza, with models, photographers, and other industry insiders mingling among a guest list of more than 1,000.

The event is anything but a stiff networking scam, as Roharik has incorporated the spirit of those fun-filled photo shoots at his house into the CCIM. For the first event, guests were treated to an interactive photo booth, where they could pretend to be knife-throwing circus acts set against a spinning “wheel of death” as a backdrop. Now, a six-person board and more than 50 volunteers have been cooking up this year’s highlights, along with helping to secure more than 26 sponsors.

Roharik sat down with (614) to tell us how he transformed a weeknight hangout into a cocktail party for a thousand.

Was the CCIM somewhat of a result of a fragmented fashion/creative scene in Columbus in your eyes?

I missed the friendships and sense of artist community that I experienced in the fine art program at OSU. I think the event has succeeded and grown because there is a need to unite working commercial artists with those that hire them. We have a rich creative culture in Columbus and wonderful collection or corporations and ad agencies that are creating brands on a global scale – who are utilizing artists. A mixer uniting the two was missing in our city. It’s also a night when you forget that you might be competing with others and come together for the sake of art and community. “Leave your egos at the door and make new connections and plan collaborations.” 

What is the goal from here? It’s grown and grown, so what is the end-game? I envision the event being about the quality of guests and not quantity.

The world of fashion photographers is certainly a colorful one, running the gamut on personality types. What unique vision do you bring to your shoots? I feel my artistic sensibilities are grounded in fine art and motivated by the celebration of the beauty found in our daily lives, and the humor in the human experience.  

Does fashion photography take itself too seriously, or has it become too informal? Have you ever seen a “high-fashion” model smiling and cheesing it up for the camera in a couture ad campaign? There is a bit of irony in some editorial spreads, but rarely any humor. I like to bring a sense of humor to my editorial and commercial work when I have the opportunity. When shooting fashion, I rely on the stylists to make it serious. I am attracted to fashion photography because you can push the boundaries to some pretty absurd scenarios with models and environment. It’s amazing what you can get away with stylistically under the guise of fashion photography. 

How would you describe your style?

Not too flashy. I appreciate an expensive pair of shoes and jeans. Love screen-printed t-shirts. I like to play dress up with a suit or sports coat if I’m going to a fancy event.

Any trends you followed back in the day, that now make you cringe?

The flannel and grunge look in the ’90s was pretty shitty; I am ready for the skinny hipster look to go away. It seems every time popular culture takes its fashion cues from pop stars, we get burned.

For more information about the Columbus Creative Industry Mixer, visit www.columbuscreativeindustrymixer.com

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