matty_10.17.10 016 Spent sometime with Ray the other day, taking some senior pictures. He is also very involved in dirt bike racing, so he brought is motorcycle along for the shoot. The location for me was a no-brainer. I mean... I'm not liking the idea of Ray and his bike in the middle of the city. I'm all for contrasting subjects/environments, but I just didn't want to force this one. I decided on a wooded scene for this shoot. Ray is also flirting with the possibility of future modeling, so we shot these with a little more attitude than your normal senior photos.

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.

matty_9.25.10 061 - Version 2 Visited a newly developed park down on the Tacoma waterfront with Alyssa for her senior pictures. After looking through these photos, you might be like "...uh... waterfront? There is not a single photo here with water." I'd probably be thinking the same thing. Yes, this is a park right on the water, however, the pieces of the park that we used to compose Alyssa's photos didn't showcase the water. It was about 5pm and very bright out still. The better shots captured where I was using my light to control exposure on Alyssa. We first shot amongst these stone pillars that are staggered about on this path. I shot these mostly from below Alyssa, giving these a very non-Washington feel, almost like a Arizona type setting with just the pillars in the background.

matty_9.11.10_ 529 I'm really happy with how this batch of photos turned out with the Upfront. I've done the marketing photography for the Upfront Theatre for about a year now, a handful of shoots completed within that time. But this set really came together well. I guess that boils down to two critical things, if you ask me. Myself, mainly a location photographer, love to work with interesting environments, colors, textures, etc. The Upfront theater is kind of the exact opposite of what I look for when I'm out and about shooting. That is a plain stage, plain walls, plain background to the stage. Not that that's a bad thing for the Upfront, that puts all the attention on the improv players, which is exactly where it should be, but makes my job a little more challenging in making an overall visually interesting photograph. Like most insightful photographers should, if they are not "feeling" a background/location, they switch it up, but I do not have this option here. So, I had to tackle this from a different approach. Now, not only am I to make these visually engaging in a fairly plain environment, I also have to ensure that I can capture comedy effectively in a photograph. There is something about comedy that is best translated in motion and sound, and photos... well photos, they kinda take a back seat in that art form. However, if done right, photos can be well-timed and capture some great expressions. So, the two things that I think came together on this shoot to take photos in this environment to the next level... 1.) My lighting and photographic approach - I've slowly adjusted my lighting to best capture facial expressions as well as the rest of the body(s). Simple feat maybe if you have a single person or even two standing in single spot. But these are all over the place, covering the distance of the entire stage. A lot of challenges come into play at that point with lighting position, angles, the inverse square law, etc. Played with different lenses, perspectives, angles, etc from the camera end of things. The end result, I found some things that will forever help me in the realm of shooting comedy, simply put. Things that will be my default starting point when shooting this style. Reason 2.) The upfront players came at me with some great material/scenarios to shoot. The combination made for some excellent material for marketing.

matty_9.11.10_ 768 I'm gonna bet that is the first time most of you have heard the name "Kaimi" (Ki-e-me), at least it was a first for me. Hearing it kinda inspires me to name my kid(s) something exotic, that is, if I ever get around to making a couple little Matty's. Boy... what a handful they will be. I shutter, roll my eyes, and smile all at the same time at the thought of a couple miniature me's running around. You'll know their my kids cause they'll be the ones on the kid leashes that are disguised as a monkey hugging the kid, have cool-aid mustache stains, and lacking the ability to hold still. The leashes will never have a second of slack in the line, almost like a sled dog constantly trying to push forward. According to my parents, I was walking/running at 8 months old, and I was quite the handful. I distinctly remember a story they told me about a day that I played so hard and non-stop that when they got me home, I climbed onto the couch, and while on my knees I fell asleep before my head hit the cushion on my way down, like a falling tree. Man, I wish I could have seen that. Wow, sorry... way off topic here. Kaimi, a senior this year in Bellingham. We decided on a local park that provided a variety of styles. Started with this wood walking bridge, had some character. Varied the lighting here between both a very natural and dramatic look.

matty_8.29.10_ 120 A couple weeks ago, I spent some time with Grant, a senior this year, as well as an aspiring model. I have to admit, this is the first modeling/senior picture session I've done. It was setup more for a foundation for Grant's modeling portfolio, and we bent it a little to work for senior photos as well. We spent a little time on white seamless and then moved to some more colorful backgrounds. The interesting thing to note here is that we brought the seamless environment right to the same location. Roll of white paper, hanging stands, large flat surface, and there ya go. Two completely different shooting environments in the exact same location. Kinda funny to think that behind that clean white paper are walls covered in graffiti.

matty_8.22.10_ 514 A photographer can be asked to capture a vast array of people, places, and things. Usually, they all fall into the normal realm. You can throw normal out the window when a comedian books you for a couple hours. Enter Stephen, a comedian regularly found generating laughs in the Bellingham area. I actually first saw Stephen perform well over a year ago at the improv Upfront Theatre, and I have to admit, I thought he was the funniest performer in the building that night. I've done a couple shoots for the Upfront now, assembling some fun shots for marketing material, so it seems that the Theatre's performers are becoming quite partial to my work. Don't mind it one bit either, the comedy shoots are always a good time. I end up laughing through the shoots as I'm clicking away.

matty_8.20.10_ 084 Meet the Williams family. I had the pleasure of shooting the group a week or so ago in their local neighborhood park in Federal Way. They were fun to shoot, very easy-going family. The park was quite pleasant, it gave us lots of options for some nice compositions. I will also run with places that give my subjects a prop to around with, it gives them something to do, and makes the subjects look way more natural posing for a photo. Even if that means just a tree, like below, it's a good place to start our left most subject. Cause five people just standing around in the middle of a field is just kinda... silly. Had a nice sun setting, so used it as my back light for a bit.

matty_6.16.10_ 130 Shooting in a white seamless environment, a standard for modeling and product photography portfolios, is a pretty straight forward process. Throw a subject on a huge sheet of white paper, light the model, light the white paper to blow it out white, creating a white abyss around your subject. I've shot seamless for years, it's appropriate for so many shoots, yet I've been shooting more seamless lately with all but the key light off, not blasting that background with a ton of light. This brings a lot more... what I'd like to call intimacy into the composition. Varying your light and subject distance from the background, you get varying degrees and gradients of light falloff on the background. I loved how this set came out. Seamless with just a single key light on the subject.

matty_7.11.10_ 381 I've been trying to work more children photos into my portfolio, and had a fun idea. A shoot like this really pays off when you put in the extra prep work. Having finalized the fairy concept for the two girls, we set out for fairy outfits. We ended up ordering costumes off of a year-round halloween shop online, and waiting for those to come in. I scouted some nearby wooded areas for a good location a week or two ahead of time, planned out right time of day for falling light in the event I wanted to pull in some of the sun light for illuminating the surrounding woods in the background.

matty_7.18.10_ 704 Last weekend was the first annual Ryan Stiles Golf Classic event, held up in the always pleasent Bellingham, WA. It was a fundrasing effort with all proceeds going towards the Burned Children Recovery Foundation. The weekend was kicked-off Friday evening with a soldout comedy show with Ryan and the rest of the 'Whose Line' cast. Saturday evening hosted the Celebrity Gala & Auction where many cool, unique items were bid on, and many celebrities came to support. Sunday was 18 holes of celebriting golfing. In all, it was a very successful effort, generating more than $100,000 for the foundation in three days. Kent Loomer, fellow funny man and the event director, asked me to cover Saturday and Sunday's events. A lot of coverage here too, folks, about 16 hours worth within a day and a half. I do all of the photography for Ryan's comedy club up in Bellingham, and was more than happy to donate some time to document such a great cause.

matty_6.24.10_ 133 Beautiful Taylor, pictured above, recently joined with a model agency. She was in need of some photos with emphasis on just her to use for her portfolio. Nothing distracting, simple, nice head/model shots. Originally she wanted to do this on white seamless. Seamless is great and all, but... it's nothing special, everyone does it. In my mind, if I were marketing myself as a model in a sea of "talent," I would wanna standout a bit. I talked Taylor into doing some location stuff that would keep the backgrounds simple, add a little spice, yet keep her as the focus. She said that was cool. I selected a location with cement walls, ivy... just something with a touch of character to add that little something to the photo. It's not as simple as white seamless, and it's not like the 4th of July going off in the background. Calm, subtle, different.

  Light, you know... that stuff we need reflecting off of everything around us to see. It's awesome, but... it doesn't tell nearly as good of a story as the shadows. Of course without light, you'd just have shadow, a black image, so I'm talking about a good mix of the two, it's that heavy contrast between light and dark that I'm in love with. Just as much as I need the light in my shots, I need those shadows. In my mind, it's not the light that tells the story of an image, it's the shadows, the parts we can't see. It carves out the subject, showing shape, telling a story all in it's own. Sure, super bright, over exposed images are great for making people's skin and faces look nice and clean, but it's boring. I want some character, I want the person to be etched in their true form, not hidmatty_6.20.10_ 154den in bright, over exposed images. I'm always looking for ways to bring deep, dark shadows into my images. I believe it tells the best story, it makes people stop and look at it. Obviously, there will always be exceptions to the rule, I will shoot bright, happy images when it's called for, but my preference is like the image below.

matty_3.4.10_ 373 Ok... so we are shooting on-location. Woah, hold on. What does "on-location" even mean?! That all depends on you, the photographer, or you, the client who has hired a photographer. A lot of new photogs out there will toss around words like "on-location" to describe in a round-about way of saying they don't use lighting. Which translates to they haven't invested in either the knowledge, the equipment, or both in order to utilize lighting for on-location shoots. Photographers who spin their own reality using catchy words in an attempt to sound marketable, allthe while misinforming the public can drive me crazy at times. On-location does not mean you are having to settle for anything less than amazing. I bring up this odd tangent at the very beginning of my post to make a key point. That point is that on-location does not mean I can't bring the power and control of my lights with me where ever I go, in fact, it's the exact opposite. I repeat, I'm bringing more than just my camera to the party. I use every single piece of lighting equipment that I use in the studio in that big, wild, endless possibilities of an environment we call "on-location." It's the world around us, every part of it. And I'm here to tell you that every single part of it can be lit with off-camera lighting to create your own vision. A vision that couldn't happen without bringing your own lights along for the ride.

matty_6.8.10_ 103 The picture above, which can only be described as pure awesomeness, is of little one and half year-old Brennan. The Barnes asked me to capture a family portrait while they had the growing family all in one spot for the week. An extremely sweet group, they were great to work with. We selected a spot at Tumwater Falls Park. If you haven't been there and live in the nearby area, you should definitely come visit it on a nice day. It has a really nice walking trail with little waterfalls to look at along the entire loop. There are little spots where you can get down to water level and climb on the rocks. This is where we ended up doing our session.

matty_5.17.10_ 108 Yep, that's my super intelligent title for this post. Sorry, I'm kinda at a loss for this one. The resulting pictures from this shoot are actually for the Emergency Food Network. They have a harvest every year where they grow their own food for the food donation cause. The EFN team want me to capture the harvest at different points of the plant growth, then use the resulting photos for large prints around the office and such. So I'll be heading out to the harvest a handful of times from now to September. Pretty cool idea, something a little different for me, and a reason to try out the most recent addition to my lens collection, the new Canon macro lens. Yes, I market myself as a portrait photographer, however, I do a lot of other kinds of photo work besides just capturing people. So much so that I invested in a top shelf macro lens. Enter the Canon 100mm F2.8 L USM Macro. I'm using this bad boy for all of my small product photography as well as... well really small plants and anything else I need really great close-up detail on. So this post is kinda of a shoot/gear post, as I'll talk about the shoot itself and the macro lens too. I'm not great at all about doing the whole review thing on my gear. I just kinda like telling you what gear I have, how I use it, why I like/dislike it, and show you some work made by the gear. I'm a practical guy. I like practical explanations and real examples. So that's what you're getting. :)

matty_4.28.10_ 073 A few months back, when we did the calendar project for Smokin' Hot Espresso, we also designed a punch card for each girl using the photography from the calendar shoots. Each girl then had an individual card to hand out to repeat customers, they've been a big hit. They've had a three more girls join the team since then and were in need of some photos, specifically for creating punch cards for the new employees. For those newer readers that a completely lost, flip back a few months in the posts and you'll get caught up real fast. We originally planned on shooting this set on white seamless, but... I got the craving to do something a little more creative last minute. Like, really last minute. Try an hour before the shoot! Found a solid location that had the graffiti scene going on. Now... I know what you are thinking, "geez, hasn't the graffiti thing been played out yet?". The answer to that lays in how you use it. You can compose your shots in a way where you are totally relying on the graffiti art as your focal point, or you can use it to accent your models. I chose the later, and using various lighting techniques, I added or subtracted how much of the graffiti played a role in the shots.

IMG_2388 Another shoot with Tiare Floral Design in the books. Tomasi, the designer, always amazes me with his work. It's fun when two artists who come from two completely different fields collaborate on projects. You get double the art, an... art-in-art if you will. Tomasi's work pushes me at times with lighting, giving me a challenge, which is awesome. The designs are never the same and range wildly in size, with some breaching the 5 feet mark. These are not small floral arrangements. Lighting them equally across the entire piece can be difficult at times, especially the wide variety of materials that are used.

matty_3.6.10_ 284 A few weeks back I shot a group of the Upfront Theatre improv comedians for some advertising material. It was a lot of fun. Set up your lights, pull out the camera, and these guys just start doing there thing. You don't have to say a thing, they just kinda know it's time to take pictures and they jump right into a skit as if there were an audience in front of them.

matty_3.29.10_ 216 Got some time to finish up the ice sculpture photos and post up some more selects. If you are saying "what? What ice sculptures?" You should click here to read part uno - CLICK FOR PART 1 -. So... on to more pictures and a little bit more story. Almost being in Alaska for a week now, I can tell you this was the most fun I had while taking pictures here. I mean... how often to you get to go photograph the location where the world's best ice carvers come to compete?! Again, these pictures don't give these guys nearly enough credit because of all the melting that had taken place before I showed up.