Just for Fun

twin-suns-tattoine You hear it all the time, people "viewing" the world in a perspective that is unique to only those in the same career field. With each life experience we gain as we live each day, we wake up and see the world a little differently, whether we like it or not. This perspective greatly skews itself in the direction of topics and ideas where your mind spends a lot of it's time thinking, observing, acting-on, and discussing. We become hypersensitive to these things we specialize our lives around. The "perspective" I am specifically referring to in this post is that of a visual sense, however, the varying perspectives of the world span from the other senses our bodies have (like hearing or smell) to just thoughts. Of course, all of these perspectives are manifested from thought, but they work in-tandem with our sensory organs. It should be no surprise to those reading this that my perspective has been warped by my obsession with photography. Like the blind gain an uncanny ability to heighten their sense of hearing, I've come to modify my sight and how I view the world in photography. My quest in making new and different photography (and in as great of a quantity as I can), puts me in a mode that hunts for anything that can be utilized to inspire, create, or evolve a photography concept. I've become fascinated and an observer of what I've already experienced my whole life, which is light and how it reacts in an unimaginable number of environmental variations. For example, I understand that candle light is faint, very orange in color, where fluorescent bulb is much bright and different in color temperature. I understand that glass, metal, and other like-objects hold reflective properties. All of these things you learn as a kid, but you never really have to consciously think about them in every day life and how they effect your life, because quite simply, they don't real matter that much. Not until you pick up a light capturing device, like a camera, do you start to find an appreciation of everything you already "know." Turns out you really don't know much about it after all. Further more, you don't understand how important the smallest variations in time of day, light variations, surface properties of simple objects sitting in a room, etc. really are until it comes time for you to replicate it accurately with a camera. Essentially, you are observing non-stop, taking mental notes, testing, failing, and learning all over again in a new world hidden inside of the same one you've known since birth. It's a rewiring of the brain, and sometimes it's a fricken battle to accomplish, because you are fighting your whole life's idea of how things are. For me, it's taking what I know about life, shoving that knowledge in to a camera, and looking at it via the lens. This rewiring process can't even begin until you understand the camera and what it is capable of. Further more, with flash photography, the camera and only the camera is capable of seeing what flash photography can produce. After years of observing flash photography produced by cameras and the lighting tools which helped manipulate light, you can start to predictively visualize the world that your camera sees. It's very much a trial and error process, a LOT of observing.

matty_8.6.11_ 217 So a few months ago, I was struck by an idea that quite honestly upset me because I hadn't thought of it sooner. That idea? Shirts. Shirts with my logos on it. A vain idea? Maybe a little, but I work some pretty large events sometimes. It's not like I sport my own shirt, strut up to a random person and go, "Yep, (sigh) I don't know if you know this... but I'm kind of a big deal" (looking off into distance and thumb pointing to my own logo on chest). Sometimes I'm up working my lighting magic in front of crowds prior to said events starting, where I literally have 750 - 1,000 sets of eyes on me as they anxiously await the start of the event. Why would I be up in the lime light, doing lighting photography? My clients will be working/promoting themselves at events, they hire me to cover them working the events, and sometimes we get to have a bit of fun on the venue's "stage." This means me, lightings, lots of gear, and staged photo shoots upfront. I'm sure most of the people who are there are wondering what the hell is going on, maybe curious what and why I'm taking photos, and I bet some are wondering what these photos are turning out like. How would they ever get that chance when they don't have a clue of who I am or where to look?  It's not like I grab I mic, turn the to crowd, "I'm Matty, that was my show, checkout my site, goodnight!" Shirts are a far classier approach, don't cha think? Those whose interests are perked, can look closer and read my logo.

matty_7.4.11_ 002 First day here in Phoenix, spending most of the day relaxing by the pool and trying to stay cool in the 100+ temps. How do you people handle these extreme temps for extended periods of time?! Did you get lost in the desert and just give up trying to find a way out? Anywho, it's nice for like... a week, max, and after that I'm done. So it's the fourth of July. If you could pick a couple locations where you can count on a nice, dry evening for a fireworks show, I bet Arizona would probably be on that list. Well, just so happens I'm in Arizona, Phoenix of all places, and we had an amazing lightning storm roll through. I couldn't imagine a fireworks show took place tonight, cause it was raining hardcore (think that's why they call it a monsoon). Restricted to the hotel room, all I could do was watch and listen as nature put on it's own fourth show. I tossed a camera on a tripod and attempted to capture some bolts of lightning off the back porch. It was a small window of the sky to capture, but I did get a couple captures. Nothing special, just something fun.

matty_7.2.11_ 132 A few days into my stay here in Arizona. Couldn't pass up the opportunity to photograph the Grand Canyon. Talk about a giant hole in the ground. Really makes you appreciate time and how little humans have spent on this planet, looking at the gapping hole in the earth, a product of 17 million years of erosion by the Colorado River. Talk about perspective... Photo above of yours truly, snapping some photos from one of the viewpoints along the route. Little warm on the journey out, indicating 103 degrees during a pitstop. Completed a family portrait shoot the other day in Sedona. The background looks fake, in fact, I bet some people might just automatically assume the photos are photoshopped. It was scenic to say the least. Those photos are coming soon to the blog. I hoping to squeeze in some other portraits while I'm here if the opportunity arises. Stay tuned for more from Arizona.

matty_6.18.11_ 027 These photos are a result of a slow Saturday evening. My weekends are usually booked with clients, in and out of town, lots of driving, shooting, and long days. So when a weekend comes around when I don't have to leave town or have a group of shoots, it kind of freaks me out. Hence the result of this last Saturday. Did a bit of photography studio training for a commercial client's employees, and a bit of graphic design, but the later half of the evening left me wanting to photograph something, something new. I decided to freeze water in motion, cause... well, sometimes it's nice to take a break from portraiture. This is one of the things I mention in my workshops when talking about advantages and disadvantages of photography and cameras in relation to the human eye and our perception. Sure, you can tell someone that they can freeze motion with a camera, and they'll most likely think of catching someone laughing or someone jumping in mid air. That's fun and all, but man... it gets a lot more intense and interesting than that. I'm talking about magic that can happen while playing with 1/8,000th of a second captures. At these speeds you can literally see science, the whole action/reaction sequence at play.

matty_12.13.10_ 441 Where to start with this post... Well, let's start with the background story. Last December, I traveled to Maui to photograph a wedding over there. I made the most of out the trip and booked my stay for a week, giving me a couple days of prep for the wedding, then the wedding, and a couple days of pure relaxation on the island after the wedding craziness. These last few days left us seeking fun island activities, and being the adventurous group that we were, we decided on a jungle hike. Now... This hike was located on the eastern tip of the island, we were staying on the west end, so a road trip was in order. For an island, Maui is quite diverse due to the mountains at the center of the islands. Believe it or not, these mountains were large enough to create very extreme differences in climate and landscape on opposite sides of the mountain. It was like experiencing Washington State, but instead of having to drive hundreds of miles, you only had to drive 30 to go from luscious greenery to brown desert landscapes. I would think there may be dryer parts of the island than others, but nothing like this...

matty_5.6.11_ 415 Over the years I've been to a lot of beaches, some warm, some cold. I've wiggled my toes in the sands of Mexico and Hawaii, but none of them will ever earn the title of 'The Beach.' That sole title goes to Long Beach, WA. It IS The Beach. It doesn't just describe the actual physical vastness of where the sand meets the water, but the pace and style of life in the town. On the nicer days, this means that we are going non-stop, playing frisbee, hiking, running around on the beach, playing games in the lawn, biking around the simple streets, and late night fires in the backyard. On the yucky days, it means lots of board games in the family room, a crackling fire keeping us warm, hitting up the small theater, and getting dragged to the all the little shops with the girls. Good or bad weather, the beach is the beach, rain or shine, we are having a blast. The town is very much a tourist-based economy, the place is a ghost town in the colder months, and packed in the warmer ones. Walking around during the off-seasons, entering restaurants and stores, you quickly realize a very consistent theme, you are the only one in them. It makes you wonder how they manage to keep the businesses open, but then it makes you realize just how busy they are in the warmer times of the year. Because of the crummy weather we are still experiencing, the town was still very much dead. This meant that we practically had the town to ourselves this last weekend.

matty_4.20.11_ 003 Variety, it's a huge perk to a few lucky photographers out there. I'm happy to say that I feel like one of them. It's really fun looking back to see where my camera has taken me. A few places my camera has seen this last year - Alaska, Maui, all over the PNW, and coming this late June, Arizona. But sometimes the fun stuff is right around the corner, or in this case, right down the tracks. Good friend and P-51 Pictures video director, Andy Lahmann, is always helping out my photo biz when he is available and within a reasonable proximity to my photo shoots. So when he asked me if I'd take some photos for his movie poster design, I was happy to answer the call.

matty_3.25.11_ 005 Sometimes it's the little things in life that deserves some attention. Seriously, like... the literal little things. :) It would be nice to always take moments everyday to stop and smell the roses, but rarely do we. We are all guilty of our priorities not being exactly in the order they should, wrapped up in the business of the day, the getting to and from work, the addictive twitch we start forming if we haven't gotten our facebook fix in the last 15 minutes, the overall obsession to "maximize" our every day. It's less and less I think we all observe the world around us, the one that surrounds us from all angles, yet our noses always pointed into some form of a glowing screen, regardless it's size, has become our world. "Why go walk around in the local woods and check things out when I can just google it!?" People from the PNW bitchin' cause it rains so much... really, as if you aren't going to be consumed by your electronics regardless of the precipitation conditions. You're not foolin' anybody, so shut your yapper and get back to tweetin' your pals about what you just had for lunch. I kid, but seriously... I think we call could use a little less networking and a little more fresh air.

matty_3.4.11_ 021 Ok, so have to share a funny story with you guys. Took some pics, as you know, pics are always a good idea with any fish story, right (ok, that was cheesy). I recently purchased a new betta fish, Ruby. Ruby is well... mostly red, and full of spunk. For those who don't know, betta fish are quite smart, have amazingly varying characteristics from fish to fish, and can actually be trained to do tricks. People have trained them to jump out of the water or swim through a hoop for food (seriously, who are you people? Go do...things... just do something, you are making your fish swim through a hoop for it's food). From what I hear, most fish are mostly active at night and sleep during the day. The opposite is true for bettas, they tend to mirror humans when it comes to sleep schedules. So, I've had Ruby for 3-4 days now and I've been watchin' him, seeing how he's adapting, and he keeps me company as I work on my laptop at the desk here.

matty_2.17.11_ 471 I attended the Thursday night showings at the Upfront Theatre yesterday. Man, I think it could have been the best show I've personally seen performed there. I was taking pics the whole time and laughing the whole time. I had to catch myself a few times, laughing so hard when I was taking pics that it was chancing blurring the photos. Ryan Stiles was in attendance, and perform for the crowd last night with the rest of the players. Above, a little sneak peek from the late show. Morgan and his belly, a man not scared to put it out there. As you can see, even one of the guest comedians couldn't help but take it all in. Lots more to come from the number of shoots to come during the week in Bellingham. Just wanted to give you a taste. Stay tuned...

matty_2.10.11_ 090 5:30pm, primetime for commuters to robotically make their way home on the major roadways. A drastic, yet true statement. We've all been there, left with no choice but to hop in with the vast stream of cars as they all try to make their way home at the worst possible traveling hour. It really sucks to be in, however, it's another kind of amazing to be at a vantage point to watch it happen. Another things happens at 5:30 this time of year, and that is the sunset. This gave me an opportunity to do some long exposures, capturing all of the craziness traversing the Narrows Bridge. At the last overpass before the bridge, I made some pictures. Got there a little early so I could get some faint mountains in the background and maybe some sunset shots. The sunsets haven't been kind to me lately, all kinda just getting mucky and losing color. Thanks PNW! Here's my basic setup, shot most of these with a 100-400mm zoom, and a couple with a wide angle.

mattyAndyWave Still in Maui, loving every minute of it. The wedding event, as well as the trash the dress shoot, are over (pictures on this coming later this week). We scheduled a couple extra days to vacation in paradise after all the wedding busyness before we head back to the mainland. Anywho... had a fun story to share with you all today. Pictured above is myself (left) and my good friend, Andy (right). Yes, that is a wave coming right at us, and yes, it was quite a few feet taller than we were. Maui had just been slammed with a monsoon. Heavy rains and winds reformed the beach overnight, creating to what Andy and I were to soon find out the hard way - very high, hard hitting waves that only left a few inches of water for you to land in when the wave punished you. This was... about wave 4 or 5, and the biggest and last one we decided to try and take-on that day. Water, it's a pretty powerful force. Clearly something Andy and I didn't have a full respect for until we were completely owned and nearly drowned. We were in about the worst point for this thing too. As it hit, we were both instantly at it's mercy. It sent me directly to the floor, hitting so hard it knocked out any air that was presently in my lungs (which was most needed at this moment in time), and put me in a tumble of which I couldn't tell you how many times I rolled as I was still in the middle of the aquatic carnage. Andy didn't fair much better, as his body board was wedged under his arm and the sea floor, the water attempting to dislocate his shoulder.

Indeed, love is in the air. Daymeon and Leeann are gettin' hitched tomorrow, and you can see the excitement in their faces. I visited the wedding location yesterday for some quick scouting. The picture above is the private beach that is literally 15 feet from...

catPrints2 No, I'm not talking about the good kind of prints, like photograph prints. I'm talking about animal prints, more specifically, cat prints. Long, frustrating story short, I'm getting my shower redone in my bathroom. We are talking complete teardown of walls, tile, underlying cement, and replacing it with all new stuff in the reverse order. So the project is coming to an end (finally), the new walls are up and the cement floor was applied. The contractor doing the work forgot to close the bathroom door after he was done working for the day, and my curious/pain-in-the-ass/relentless cat, Coal, decided to investigate the newly poured cement. Sure enough, I walk into the bathroom and see about a dozen cat prints pressed deeply into the fresh mix. Of course I'm thinking "Ok, so if I was a cat, I'd be curious, and I might take a step in to look around." Why would he continue to step after sinks a paw into cement? How about 12 or so more times? I really wonder about this cat sometimes. As mad as I was, I had to appreciate the humor in the situation and snapped a couple pics with a P 'n S real quick. Maybe he felt like leaving his mark, much like a kid will write his name in a wet sidewalk. Coal can't write so I guess a series of paw prints is the next best thing.

michael-jordan We all know who that man is, flying through the air, dunking a basketball. If you were to poll a bunch of people and ask them who the best basketball player of all-time is, I don't think any of us could argue that the masses would most likely utter "Michael Jordan" more times than any other name. No, he's not a photographer, but a prime example of someone who has failed over and over, yet he is the image of success. When you think of Mike, you think of thee best basketball player ever. Please watch the following video before continuing with the post.


Breaking from the Herd

It seems simple, right? I mean, you, as a photographer, just have to take pictures. How hard is that, how hard is it to just go take pictures? The hard part isn't clicking the button, it's not understanding apertures or shutter speeds, it's not even finding the time to go click that button, or enduring the bite of the cold wind as you work outside in the not-so-pleasant months of the year. For me, I think the hard part is the state of mind. It's being in "the groove," getting the creative juices free flowing, properly executing your unique perspective on the chunk of the world you are capturing in present time. It's creating photographs that are new, different, and refreshing to look at. We live in such a contradictory world. We live in a place where we are taught, either directly through our friends, family, and peers, or indirectly through magazines, news, and other media outlets how we should live our lives and think. It's the message that you are brainwashed with since day 1 of your life, "you will do this, look like this, act like this, spend money like this if you want to be happy and successful" (in a nutshell). We are taught to live by these rules, walls, and boundaries all over the place, to emulate that which is around us in both a personal and professional sense (coincidentally, we call these people who follow the rest of the flock "normal"). Yet, at the same time individualistic, out-of-the-box thinking is what people stop to appreciate, it's this thinking process that separates them from the rest. We tend to call it "breaking the mold" when something comes along and slaps us in the face, opening our own minds through other people's visions and creations. It's a really cool thing. Simply put, it's inspiring. In a way, inspiration for me is basically an escape from the mundane, it reminds me how important it is for myself to continue to create original works. Inspiration is my fuel as a photographer, it keeps my head in the right place, and keeps my work fluid and the ideas rolling in. For me, it's a kick in the ass to ensure I continue to think "outside of the box." It's a large motivator to keep me shooting, shooting personal work when I'm not shooting clients.

matty_10.18.10 037 Meet Pearl, my brand new 2011 Honda CR-Z. She arrived about a week ago, straight off of the truck, seats still covered in plastic when I sat inside. I had to order her straight from the Honda factory, as there was only ONE of these cars in the entire state that was the model and color that I was after, and it got snatched up the same day I went to get it. Worked out for the better, cause there is just something cool about being the first one to sit in the car after it is delivered. Being that we live in Washington and we are heading into the rainiest part of the year, I figured it best to do a photo shoot with the car right away while it's nice and shiny and the weather was still decent. Now... as cool as this car is, Honda just failed to deliver a good marketing package with it, at least visually. To make your decision about the car via Honda's website and not in person would be a tragedy. It's such a beautiful car, with striking lines and curves... they just don't translate well in Honda's photo set. I'm not saying I took better overall photos of the car, but at least mine look "real." The photos on their site are SO over-processed, almost have an HDR feel to them that completely disconnect the raw visuals from the car. If you go to the site you'll see exactly what I mean, they look like artists renditions of the car. I could see if a car wasn't all that it was cracked up to be, so marketing teams would do their best to give an ok car an awesome look in the marketing. But I'd say Honda did the exact opposite here, the photos simply fail the car in most ways.

6-canonMerlin Been integrating more video work in with my clients. I'm experiencing that once business clients know that I can shoot/cut video along side the photos, they ask for it. And why not? At a flip of a switch, I can go from photos to video, both top quality products out of the same device, pretty neat. I say that loosely, although you can make the transition to capturing photos or video with a flip of a switch, there is a bit more to it than that. Obviously photos and video capturing have a lot in common, but as much as they have in common they also have just as much that separates the two arts. First, you have a completely different selection process for what to capture in each medium. Some things are best captured with photos, some with video. Understanding and getting a feel for working to each medium's strengths will greatly improve efficiency and the overall product given to the client. With photos, you have the luxury and power of flash/strobes to blast light, greater controlling your environment. With video, you are stuck with continuous light, which also has it's strengths as well.

  matty_8.29.10_ 197Just for fun post... had to post some pics up of this graffiti wall in Tacoma. Some of the local talent dedicated an entire wall to Alice in Wonderland. This thing is huge, and very well done. It's about 20 feet high, and I don't know how wide. The photo below is a compilation of 4 photos stitched together. Click on it to see a larger version.