Matthew Salacuse, Photographer


Matthew Salacuse: The very first subscription I had was when I was 11 years old and it was to JET Magazine.  It may have looked a bit strange for a little white boy thumbing through Chaka Khan stories on his Brooklyn stoop in the 1980s, but to me it made the most sense.  This is what I was into and I wanted to know more about it on a weekly basis.  There was a list in the back called “JET’s Top 20 Singles” where I would get to see all the music that I heard on the radio but was being left off the Rolling Stone Top 40 chart and totally ignored by MTV video rotation.  (Do you remember seeing THIS on MTV? I don’t, but I learned about it in JET)  For the advertisers, I was a swing and a miss, but for finding out Lionel Richie’s tour was rewarding students with good grades, it was a home run.

janet jackson jet magazine march 1987 1.jpg

SPD: What year?

SPD: What were you up to?
Breakdancing in the lunch room. Homework. 

SPD: What magazine?

Jet copy.jpg

SPD: What was it that so enthralled you?
Growing up in Brooklyn, I was exposed to a lot of black culture in the streets and from friends but it was not well represented in the media.  JET literally had a page called TELEVISION that alerted you to which shows black actors would be appearing on.  


SPD: Do you know now who the creatives were?
I had to go buy an old issue to dig this up because back then I had no concept that people made magazines:

Art Director: Norman L. Hunter; Staff Photographers: Vandell Cobb, James Mitchell, Maurice Sorrell, Fred Watkins

SPD: How does that inform your creative now?
When I came out of college I immediately gravitated to photographing the underrepresented side of culture; whether it be small biker rallies in Iowa or rappers in the Queens Bridge Housing Projects. By the mid 2000s I had made quite a strong reputation in the hip hop world by shooting for XXL, Vibe, The FADER, Blaze, King Mag, Rides and others.  I am still waiting for that call JET.