matty_3.18.11_ 093 It's usually one of the first things out if my mouth after I've taken the time to carefully configure all my lights and I'm pulling my camera up to my face to start a portrait session, "just be you." Sure, it's a simple request, but I think it's one that passes right over the head of most people. What does it mean telling someone to "be yourself" in a world where most people are trying to be, act, talk, and dress like all the Kens and Barbies gracing every page of every magazine? In other words, they wake up and go to sleep trying to be everything but themselves, so what's the point of asking them to be who they are? Are you asking them to act in truth or a lie at that point?! I'm speaking in gross generalities, but I think you understand what I'm getting to.

matty_3.19.11_ 078 Meet Kent, an actor/performer out of the Bellingham area. I've actually known Kent for a little over a year prior to this shoot. He's a regular at the Upfront Theater, very entertaining to watch, and just a really great guy overall. The more you talk with him the more you like him. He also runs the Ryan Stiles Golf Tournament fundraising weekend every summer, which he had hired me to shoot. Kent needed to refresh his headshots, as it'd been a couple years, for his talent agency. He was looking for simple, very traditional headshots.  The first thing you'll notice about Kent as he walks closer and closer to you is his size. I'm 6'2'', 200 lbs., and his large 6'4" frame dwarfs mine. He's a guy that you would instantly want to cast into a dominate character role, as he has and edge to him aside from his size. Put a thick goatee on the guy and he's a harley rider who can step into the door of a bar and fill up the whole thing with attitude. Hence the reason why I very much enjoyed taking the photo style of Kent at the top of the page, it just seemed fitting. A little more drama, a little mood. The rest of the image styles are pretty clean, pretty standard, which exactly what Kent was looking for (showing a range from smiling to very serious expressions). We quickly shot a few photos outside, but quickly had to duck into the studio to avoid the cold and wind. Enjoy the photos, a lot more coming down the chute.

matty_3.6.11_ 021 Tomasi, owner and designer of Tiare Floral Design, and I got together the other day to shoot some of his work for publication in a magazine (can't drop the name until it's published). Tomasi was contacted by the magazine and asked if he could design a couple floral arrangements which are made out of common flowers the average family can find at their local stores. Tomasi contact me to shoot the two pieces he created. The topic will run as a little feature article in the magazine. Tomasi's talent in floral design never ceases to amaze me. It's work that delights multiple senses, both sight and scent. The two creations he brought to the studio were simply fun, as he integrated lime and kiwi into the pieces. It was a fairly quick shoot. In less than an hour we shot both pieces from all proximities and angles, and called it good. Enjoy the photos, and look for Tomasi's article in a late Spring or early Summer issue!

matty_3.1.11_ 314 I photographed Stephanie a couple weeks ago. She contacted me and said she wanted to submit some photos for Maxim Magazine's 'Hometown Hotties' contest. It's a contest Maxim holds every year, girls from around the country submit there photos. A large bunch of those make it to the magazine for readers to view and vote for their favorite. So, that leaves Stephanie and I to take some fun and sexy/cute images. Unfortunately, the PNW in the middle of March doesn't really lend itself to warm, outside shooting situations. That meant we had to fall back on shooting in and around my studio, which worked out just fine.

matty_2.26.11_ 147 I spent a little time in the studio with Margie, an extremely talented harpist. I can actually attest to that as well, as I've listened to her play at concerts. She is the harpist for the Olympia Symphony Orchestra, pretty cool stuff. The harp is an amazingly complicated instrument, I couldn't imagine the years of learning involved, especially since I'm in the process of learning how to play guitar, which has a measly 6 strings. I get dizzy just looking at the sophistication of the harp. I don't know how many strings, and then there are a number of foot levers at the base to change pitch and who knows what else. The people who makes these things deserve a standing ovation, not to mention a musician who can master it.

IMG_2561 About a month ago, Lindsey was my first barista to photograph in the new Tacoma studio for Smokin' Hot Espresso. Working as the company's staff photographer, I am making sure we get a couple shoots in a month, including additional shoots which we call "punch card shoots." Smokin' Hot Espresso gives regular customers punch cards, which after purchasing 10 drinks, they get one for free. Each girl who works for the business gets their own personalized punch card with their photo on it to hand out to customers. So as new employees come onboard, they get to come down to my studio for a photo shoot so that we have photographic content for their card as well as any additional marketing material we may put together down the road. We've been doing the personalized punch cards ever since I started doing all of the photography for them about a year and a half ago.

matty_2.17.11_ 102 Thursday night at the Upfront Theatre was the place to be. In front of a sold out crowd, the main stage players put on one of the best shows I've ever seen. It was a non-stop string of laughter that made an hour of entertainment seem like only 10 minutes. Ryan Stiles was there, performing with the last group of the 8pm show. For those of you that do not know, Ryan owns the Upfront. He started it up a few years back, and he's been regularly performing with the rest of the main stage players on Thursday nights if he is in town. I have a scheduled shoot with the theatre on Sunday, but I came to the performance to get some live shots, and I'm SO glad that I did. I stayed and captured both the 8 and 10pm shows, both providing plenty of laughs. The first show, an ensemble of the whole gang split into three groups. The second show, presented by The Project, a format hosted by Morgan Grobe and Stephen Edwards, "General Tso's Comedy Show." I'll let the photos do the rest of the talking, and stay tuned for more photos from B-ham!

matty_1.30.11_ 096 Say what?! Senior pictures... this time of year? Yep. About a week ago, I captured, what I can safely say, will be my last senior picture session for the graduating class of 2011. Emily, a senior this year, works on the yearbook staff (I guess a perk is that you can submit your photo SUPER late - I tease, Emily), and with great responsibility comes... great procrastination? I don't know, and didn't care, cause all it means is that I got to have another fun senior photo shoot. We shot in and around my Tacoma studio. Speaking of perks, one of the major perks of my studio location is being a part of a large group of work spaces located inside of a large antique mall. Three floors of really cool, old "stuff." (Ok, not trying to hijack my own blog post here, but I'm in a coffee shop writing this right now and a 50 year old dude just walked in, and he is rockin' a seriously large mullet. What's the deal with that? People, come on. Joe Dirt called, he wants his mullet back, and even he said that mullets are out right now. Ok, sorry, I'll focus, back to the post). Anyways, the studio and the surrounding space is filled with all kinds of shooting possibilities, and a huge reason why I selected this as my studio location. Not to mention it is right in the middle of downtown Tacoma, so walking outside the doors puts you in some serious metro shooting locations, including a graffiti garage I frequent, all within walking distance.

matty_1.26.11_ 067 Stephen Edwards, a regular improv comedian at the Upfront Theatre, is starting up a new show. 'The Comedy Panel' will debut at the Upfront February 10th, at 10pm, and will feature Bellingham's favorite improv comedians to entertain the crowd. Stephen approached me a couple weeks ago, let me in on his new show, and wanted me to shoot the photography for the marketing. The main idea was that the photography presented Stephen as the host and the other comedy players as... well... the players. So how do you clearly represent this and identify people in a photograph without drawing arrows with labels to different people on the poster?

matty_1.6.11_ 008 Smokin' Hot Espresso, one of my regular business clients, asked me to come up with a flyer for their upcoming charity event, 'Bikini Bowling.' As soon as they popped the question, "can you design it?" I knew exactly what I wanted to do. "Give me in the bowling alley with one of the baristas and you'll have a great flyer," was my instant response. This is a fundraising event for a fellow who is going through his third bout of cancer. It's very generous of Smokin' Hot to donate their time, creating a fun evening to raise money to help pay for all the medical expenses.

matty_1.2.11 164 Spent a couple hours working with Tomasi, owner and designer of Tiare Floral Design, as we shot a handful of awesome boutineer creations he put together. The idea of the shoot is to give future customers a little taste of what Tomasi can do for formal event floral menswear. He's looking at using these photos to assemble a photo book. About a dozen boutonnieres to shoot, mixing them with different clothing, locations, and a variety of close and wide shots for each. I've been working with Tomasi for quite some time now, but all of the shoots so far have been strictly floral designs. This was the first go-around with integrating a model in with the flowers. It's something that I've been wanting to do with Tomasi since our first meeting.

matty_12.12.10 017 Wow, ok... the last and final installment to this whole shebang, the trash the dress shoot. We met-up the day after the wedding, around sunset. Leeann and Daymeon's condo was just down the block from mine, so we just met at the beach that at across the street. Now, these might be my favorite shots from the whole week. It was my first 'trash the dress' shoot, so I was pretty excited. The scene was pretty funny. We roll up, girl in wedding dress, guy with big camera, and Alice (my assistant) walking around to a good-sized mobile softbox. Toss girl with big white dress into the surf and everyone walking the beach stops to watch. There were actually other groups down there taking pics of family and friends. Before you know it, they have turned their cameras on us, taking pics of us doing our thing. Before you knew it, a crowd had gathered, with probably 30 sets of eyes on the shoot.

matty_12.11.10 525 Getting tired of these wedding posts yet? This is the second-to-last one, so hang in there, cause this is the good stuff! Yes, by that I mean the lighting stuff. Towards the end of the wedding reception, I pulled Leeann aside to get some "fun photos." I had been eyeing the alter they got married under ever since I arrived early that day. I knew it would make a great location to work-in some light, and make some interesting compositions. Started simple, with one light, 2'x2' softbox for front light. Then added some edging details to both the bride and flowers with a bare backlight directly behind Leeann.

matty_12.11.10 348 Ok, so getting into the stuff I LOVE to do, setting up some fun shots, and bringing in some lighting. The formal portraits. Got Leeann and Daymeon on the beach as the sun was setting. Even though we had some pretty thick cloud cover, we got some fun colors in the sky. Knocked these out in 5 minutes or less. The sun was setting and I had to get the couple back to their party!

matty_12.11.10 029 The first stop of the day, Leeann's condo, to capture the bride and bridesmaid getting all snazzied-up. A girl has to look good on her wedding day, right? It was the first set of shutter clicks of the day, just a few of the thousands to be taken before I called it a day. Like I said in the last post, with CNN there to video the wedding, the wedding coordination company was pulling out all the stops, everything that Leeann and Daymeon (bride and groom) had arranged for the wedding months ago all got multiplied by the coordination company so they looked perfect for CNN (they did a pretty darn good job too, they got this event about as close to perfect as possible). That meant, among a slew of other free upgrades for the couple, Leeann had a duo of hair/makeup artists following her around all day. Not a bad perk, eh?

matty_12.9.10 120v2 A wedding, in December, in Maui. This gig was more than I could have asked for, timing, location, everything... It was a location and setup that was too good to be true. Stop for a second and imagine a tropical location, a place that is literally perfect for your dream wedding, now paint the picture. I'd bet the farm the picture in your head doesn't have anything on this place. In many ways it felt like a dream just standing there, able to be a part of the whole thing. It's a beach house, tucked right on the beach, and all you hear are the waves as they crash over the black rock formations and sand.

matty_11.21.10 185 Tomasi, owner and designer for Tiare Floral Design, booked me for another shoot a couple weeks ago. We've worked on a handful of projects together, but the past shoots had been more focused on floral pieces he had designed. This shoot was about all of the raw materials used for the collective pieces, with the idea that we can showcase all of the different flower elements Tomasi uses in his work. With this showcased on his soon-to-come new website, it will give clients the option to pick and choose different elements, and with that info, Tomasi can create with the selected elements. The main objective with this shoot was to get close and personal with the different flowers. Enter the 100mm macro lens. This entire shoot was executed with this lens, and aside from a couple longer shots, I consistently maintained only 1-6 inches between the lens and the flowers. It was all about the detail, the color, and showing how spectacular these exotic flowers really are. Tomasi hand picks and has the flowers delivered to him from all over the world, so these are not the kinda of stuff you'll see sitting in your local Safeway.

matty_11.7.10 081 Yep, that's right. My photo studio in Bellingham is up and running, ready to shoot any day, any time. I bought a couple great props for the space, including this badass lounge you see in Myrriah's set here. I came across this lounge, never seen anything like it, had to buy it. I'm guessing it'll be a popular request for many shoots to come. I asked good friend and model, Myrriah if I could steal a couple hours of her time to help me break-in the studio with the first shoot. I've used Myrriah in quite a few shoots. I know that she'll give me what I need in order to accomplish the visual concepts that are floating around in my head. Plus having that long working relationship together, things just come together real easily, and we pump out some good stuff. This time around I simply said "so for this I want sexy with a pinch of attitude."

matty_10.20.10 068 So, I got an interesting phone call the other day from a girl named Hope. She wanted to do a senior photo shoot with me, cool I'm all for it. Next comes my standard question, "what did you have in mind, any locations or styles that sound fun?" The response, simply awesome. "I want it to look like I'm in a jungle," she tossed back. I'm sure a smile was detectable over the phone as I replied, "ok." The smile for a couple reasons. First, only a teenager would let that be the first thing spill out of their lips when asked what kind of shoot they want. Secondly, and most importantly, this is the stuff that makes photography fun for me. The challenges, even ones that arise by step-one in the profession of photography - the location. Brazil, maybe Central America, hell, even Miami that might be doable... but a jungle in Tacoma, Washington. Rare is a spot in Washington that screams "jungle," but fortunately a spot came to mind fairly quickly. There just so happens to be an exotic plant shop in North Tacoma, and the owner is extremely friendly, who had no problem with me shooting there. So, vuala, our jungle location is sewn-up, we were shooting later that week.