Nothing beats location photo shoots. Don't get me wrong, the studio can be a wonderfully controlled lighting environment to conduct shoots, but the studio's got nothing on the almost infinite photo composition possibilities out in the wild.

It was the third annual event for Ryan's fundraising weekend and my third go as the photographer. It truly is a great weekend, three days of generating awareness and funds for the Burned Children Recovery Foundation. Every Summer, the BCRF's founder holds a week-long camp for the burned children community in the Bellingham area. I've had a chance to personally visit the summer camp to see the amazing, brave survivors Ryan's fundraiser benefits.

When I hear the word "fairground," I think of roaring roller coasters with it's screaming riders, acres of game booths, the twinkle of the lights bordering every edge of every building surface, cotton candy, and of course... the craziness of a million people around you. So you could imagine the eeriness of driving onto the local fairgrounds in the off-season to see the exact opposite. For a second your mind wonders to those post-apocalyptic movies, where the land is barren, a location you know yet is unrecognizable, the occasional piece of stray trash rolling along the ground with a gust of wind.

I couldn't but help want to share a few photos from my shoot with baby Carmen. She as a great little model and gave me a great 30 minutes of smiles. Enjoy the photos, more to come.

It's the end of May, the weather forecast is looking amazing on this particular day. It's rolling the dice to schedule advanced outdoor photo shoots here in the PNW. And by "advanced" I mean 2-3 days out. Yes, that's still considered risky for outdoor shoots here in the Spring.

Amazingly, it's been almost a year working with AmeRAWcan Bistro, creating their photography and marketing material. We've completed a handful of food shoots throughout that time for various projects. Recently they acquired their license to server alcoholic beverages, which for me, means another round of photography

The weather in the PNW... what can you say about it. It hasn't been... ideal to say the least. As a photographer, that can drive you a bit nuts, you can forget about scheduling anything outside of 48 hours with any confidence. But we schedule anyways, and it's like hitting the lotto in late spring if you schedule a week in advance and the clouds happen part at the right time for a brief photo shoot. I feel more like a meteorologist in the Fall and Spring seasons than a photographer.

Thought I'd share a few photos from a newborn session a couple weeks ago. This is 10-day old baby Ava, pictured with her mom, Ashley. Photographed in my studio. Enjoy!

I spent a couple hours with Bianca for her senior pictures. On the fringes of the rainy season, we lucked out and were handed a beautiful day to work with. Unfortunately, everyone else in Tacoma decided to spend the day outside as well, giving us a pretty busy background. The spots we chose were spent with well-timed captures where I found a clean, people-free background. I arrived to the location a bit early, as I usually do, to run through pre-scouted spots in the area. Light conditions change fast, and well... a location can look amazing one minute and completely lose it's luster in a blink of an eye. I quick jog through pre-scouted locations are always done immediately prior to a shoot, ensuring they are still ripe for the pickin'. Run and gun was the name of the game for this shoot. 10-20 clicks of the camera and we were off to the next spot. I wanted to capture six or so locations, so we got what we needed and moved on.

The Emergency Food Network organization has been a client for... three years now. I've really enjoyed working on a number of projects for them, some which have opened my own eyes to the really great contribution they make in the Tacoma and surrounding area communities. My favorite and most in-depth work so far with EFN was the video I created a couple years ago, you can check that out HERE.

I thought I'd post some more work I've recently done for London Couture. Along with doing their marketing photography, I also do their graphic design. This is an ideal situation for a photographer if they are capable graphic designers as well. It really helps marriage a complete, polished look when it comes to the final product. It's so important going into a photo shoot that I have my head wrapped around the final concept. Sure, someone can ask me to photograph a person or a situation, or... a person in a certain situation, however, unless I know what the photographs will ultimately be used for, I have no idea how to shoot it. I can shoot something that looks amazing, but could really fail to translate for a particular idea or even dimension of a graphic design. At that point, no matter how amazing your photos look, they could create a headache in the end when design comes into play. All the way down the the simple things, like knowing whether the photos will be used for a magazine ad or a website or both, which will determine whether the majority of my photographs will be a landscape or portrait layout (verticals are obviously conducive to magazine ads, and horizontals for web/digital display). So whether I'm doing the graphic design or I'm handing the photos off to another designer, you better believe I'm asking all kinds of questions so that everyone in the loop of production is very happy with what they have to work with. This make life SO much easier on the designer, and leaves my paying client with a very clean, professional product that didn't have to get hacked together with a digital chainsaw. A lot of commercial photography is shot on either a white or black background, reason being it's VERY easy to add more space to a design canvas if needed. Ex - shooting a model on white seamless will allow a designer to plop the image onto a white canvas any where they want, and no one is the wiser. You can add or subtract designing real-estate until the cows come home. With that said, you really don't have to shoot as consciously with your composition (you don't have to worry about leaving any negative space in the image for the addition of graphics and text). You can shoot nice and close, providing maximum resolution and detail, and giving a graphic designer one more reason to love working with you. Shooting on a true  solid color is ideal for this editing flexibility, however, sometimes you want something different (even in the studio), or often times commercial photogs find themselves out in the wild shooting on-location. For these situations, it's key that the final concept be well-understood. And again, it's always a great thing if you are the designer and the photographer, as the layout is floating around in your head, and you can at times improvise even while shooting, as new design ideas pop up in your head and you can then shoot and frame for those ideas on the fly. A great luxury. Of course, if you are shooting for Nike or some huge name, the concept is concrete, which has been reviewed and ok'd by corporate big wigs. But if you are a smaller operation, you can get away with some... "creative flexibility" up until you shoot the last frame of the day.

Oh boy, where to start with this one... I guess we can begin with the original premise for this whole shebang that you'll see unravel on the blog in the next half year or so. I was approached a few months ago by fellow video creative and good friend, Andy Lahmann, to work on a large scale project with him. Western Washington University has a number of interesting and front-of-the-field type programs students are currently working within. The kind of programs and results that are definitely worth bragging about to some degree. WWU's idea is to generate a website bundled with video and photographic content that we be used to present these various programs to the public, alumni, and future university donors. Along with the website, they'll present the media via iPads while out and about talking to people of interest. One problem lay in their way - they need eye catching video and photos. Solution - Andy and myself. So, we've been assigned to make this stuff happen for them. Four of these programs are going to be our focus for the launch of this showcasing project. They range from out-in-nature geological to in-the-labs highly technical, and will place us in some interesting locations and situations to produce our visual work. First up to bat was a program centered around a geological phenomenon. Back in the 1930's, just outside the town of Bellingham, a large landslide started to take place. I say "started," because it's still going on, it's still sliding. Yes, this is a slow-motion, mile-long landslide 80 years in the making. But that isn't the weird part. It starts to get a bit odd when you analyze the water runoff that is flowing through the giant thing. Turns out that the sediment laden water contains amazingly high levels of asbestos. You know... that poisonous crap that was wildly popular in the groovy 1970's home construction, touted for it's fire resistance and insulating properties (among others). A rushing creek of water flows through the slide, picking up the asbestos and carrying it down to the surrounding valley. The contents of the creek are so dangerous that it's playing a large roll in the destruction/contamination of the farm lands below the hillside. So the earth mass keeps sliding, grinding-up and producing ample loose poisonous sediment (yummy), feeding the water, and playing a continual negative roll on the community. It's much like a glacier as it slowly moves across the earth. This is why the WWU geologist are out there, in fact, people from around the world have travelled there to study this anomaly, as it's apparently confusing the crap out of everyone as to why here and why not everywhere else. I guess this type of event is only happening in a couple spots in the world. And who said Bellingham is just a college town...

I conduct many shoots for London Couture, a rising vintage couture fashion business in Tacoma. We hold some type of photo shoot once week on average, so... they keep me pretty busy. They sell many styles of clothing, each speaking to fashion-minded people in varying ways. As described by my client, the designer of the clothing line for this particular shoot was by definition dark, utilizing the spectrum of colors that can be summed-up as dull and muted. It definitely wasn't a happy and warm clothing line. To meet client's needs I will often start off by asking them, "so, what does this look like in your head, what do you see, what 'hits home' as far as an environment for these items you are selling?" All feedback I received for this shoot pointed to an industrial look. To the shadiest part of town we go!

February was a happenin' month here at Matty Photography, like every month I guess. Aside from the usual photographic operations, February was the "month of knowledge," for both workshop students and myself. Two weekends out of the month went to a pair of Matty Workshops, one beginner and one advanced. More new photographers were released into the wild  with a newfound understanding of how to capture light, and a couple experienced photographers left with a larger skill set in off-camera lighting. I'll get around to writing another detailed post about those here soon. The other two weekends were for my own enlightenment, with workshops focused more on the business side of operations, yuck! A lot of good things came out of though, and I'll have a lot of big news for you coming soon on all of that stuff. I thought I'd also share a couple photos that came out of February as well. Pictured above is baby Bruno with his proud parents. A fun little family, we shot a set of photos in the surrounding caverns in which my current studio resides (hint towards future news...), and then we did another quick round inside the studio. The kid shoots always have to go fast, they are a blur of entertaining clients, kids, and shuffling lighting gear. In the end, you hope you managed to capture a couple frames where the kids are looking in your general direction sans the all-too-popular confused face, and the parents are managing to be smiling and not blinking. The second subject you see here is Kayla, a senior in high school. I did roughly the same thing with this shoot - a few in the studio, a few outside the studio. I like to give my clients some variety.

Hot shoe lighting has its moments, good and bad. There is no denying the convenience and mobility of speedlites over studio strobes, especially when a photographer spends the bulk of their shooting time on-location. Ditching the strobes and running with speedlites for a shoot literally empties out what is usually a gear-packed car. I can actually see out my back window! Hot shoe lighting is significantly smaller in size, lighter in weight, faster to setup and teardown, and usually translates to a quicker shoot. These are the things I love about speedlites. The other side of the coin are the dislikes, the things that can drive me nuts. Lack of power, misfires, and slow recycle times can get downright ugly at times when you start asking these lights to start doing some real work. My mentality on this may be a bit distorted, as I was spoiled by having the opportunity to start my lighting journey with studio strobes. I used AlienBees for years before ever even feeling the desire to want to use speedlites for my shoots. It was always a "go big or go home" situation for me. I wanted the power the strobes could give me if I needed it. This meant a car stuffed with 200 lbs of lights, cables, power packs, stands, and big light modifiers. It was a game of Tetris to get everything to fit in my car, literally. Big power came with the price of numerous trips back and fourth to the car to fetch bulky, heavy gear, cables running all over the place on-location, gear bags everywhere, and all of that had to be done in the reverse order when it came time to pack it all back up. It sucks, but it's worth it. In fact, it's "worth it" to still continue the same song and dance with all the strobe downsides to use them for 80% of my shoots. Ironically, even though I use my strobes on most location shoots, I call all of my strobe gear my "studio gear" and I call my speedlite gear my "mobile gear." So when I ask Alice, my amazing assistant, for a mobile light, it's kind of like a moment where I know she goes, "oh crap, he needs to pump out a photograph super quick," and urgency is automatically applied to the situation. It's funny but true, as most of my speedlite setups are very much run and gun. Seriously... most of the time when using hot shoes we don't even take the time to put the light on a stand, and Alice hand-holds as we continually move and reposition.

High resolution sensors and unbelievable lens optics, they are the last thing you want getting dirty. When we bring up the topic of dust, it's usually in a manner of how to get rid of it and keep it from being a factor in the first place. Lots of attention is given to minimize any encounters with the pesky stuff, and there is a huge market for sensor and lens cleaning tools. It's true, the last thing I want to see is dust covering my photo equipment. There are times that... well, all of that dust in the air, constantly finding it's way to thwart your quest for optical perfection, can actually come in handy. In fact, sometimes this stuff we've grown to curse at can have a power influence in our imagery. It may, if I dare mention, occasionally take a photo destined for failure into a successful capture. Light, it's an elusive medium. Unless it's bouncing off of something (and reflecting into our eyes), we just don't see it. Light travels in a straight line, so unless there is something to redirect it into your peepers it'll continue on it's merry way, and your retina are none the wiser. It fails to translate into something we or our cameras can see unless it's got a medium to collide into. It's the reason you can walk into an old barn or other location where there is an abundance of particles in the air and you can see these beautiful beams of light entering from a window or other light source. Light is rocketing through the air and impacting with dust, reflecting light into your eye. There are of course other mediums the light can be flying through that can reveal it's path, like fog or clouds, etc. You gotta have something in the air to allow this light to be clearly visible. Specialty light, like some lasers are a completely different topic, so what we are talking about here are the types of light photographers are usually dealing with (the sun, other typical ambient sources, and flash lighting).

Amerawcan Bistro has a lot of different things going on, one of those being classes to educate the public on the benefits of raw food nutrition. The goal was to photograph just the basic, common elements of what goes into a lot of the meals....

Last June, I headed down to Toledo, WA, my old stompin' grounds where I attended high school. It would be the first of a couple trips down to Toledo, working on a newly birthed project I formed alongside good friend and video talent, Andy Lahmann. It was a project focused on the community, with a lot of the attention going towards the high school students. To get caught up on the story, here are a couple posts to read. Here (click),  here (click), and here (click). Now, if you are up to speed... I spent a day capturing high school students in a number of activities (this series of photos called the "Pride Series"), the photos turned out very well, especially considering the day was a complete run-and-gun operation. I think we teed-up 8 photo shoots during one school day. We'd walk into a new room or sporting location, with never having worked on the photo ideas prior to that moment. Just show up, come up with something real quick, setup lights, pop the photo, pack-up and move on to do it again at another location. The photos received a great response, we made large prints and banners of the photos and hung them in the school. It was predictable that the photos would peak the interests of the high school students, as the photos were of them, however, there was a surprisingly positive response from both the middle and elementary schools. Prints were made for the other schools as well, and the kids loved them. Simply put, the photos did exactly what we wanted them to - generate interest, and ultimately getting the students online, where the website and forum we setup for this project awaited them, and get them talking and involved. You gotta take your information where the eyes are if you want it to be seen, and we all know that today that's online. 

Rewind about two months ago, I was in the middle of photographing the 2012 Smokin' Hot Espresso calendar. Before you roll your eyes, "oh boy, another bikini barista calendar, how lame," you might wanna look into this one. I'd agree with you about nine times out of ten that the "normal" creation for such ideas (skimpily-clad women calendars) are poorly conceived, produced, and constructed, however... that's not how the folks at Smokin' Hot Espresso do business. Fortunately, they are the one out of the ten that want to do things right, and not produce something that was all shot in one day, and in a studio no-less. For some reason, the pattern of recent years has gone something like this with these kind of productions - take girl, prop said girl with minimal clothing, toss her on some random/boring background, run her through the same standard poses we've seen since the beginning of time, and photoshop the crap out of the photos in post production. Rinse and repeat. After all, it's ALL about the girl, and production value doesn't REALLY mean anything... right? A picture of a girl is a picture of a girl... Um, no. 12 months, of girls, in boring, unimaginative poses and situations, in a studio... yuck. Who would want to buy that? Luckily, Smokin' Hot and myself are on the same page. It's beyond making a buck. It's about making something that is fresh, fun, and a treat for your customers. Our calendar is more of a end-of-the-year thank-you gift to the customers for their business. ROI (return on investment) wasn't the driving factor, not one bit, and that's why I really like working on this project. This calendar is full of the same baristas who have made the customers coffee every day. How cool would it be to hand those same customers a calendar with the baristas in fun outfits and situations? We wanted to produce something on a level that would leave us knowing that no other similar business in the area would come close to matching.

The commercial side of the photog biz has been consuming most of my time for the last few months, but I did find some time to squeak-in some personal portrait sessions. Most of these photos were taken in or around my studio in downtown Tacoma during Oct and Nov. "My studio" is actually the building space in which my studio space is in. I don't mind shooting classic studio photos, but if I get the chance, I take every opportunity to shoot outside of the studio, really try to make something new with each shoot, and the studio isn't exactly conducive to that mission. Especially with personal portrait photography, it's not for a magazine or design, and I think most people will be looking for a little more flavor in the background of their photos. That is where the indoor space around the outside of my studio comes in handy, especially this time of the year, when the last thing you want to do is spend prolonged amounts of time outside in the wet and cold.