Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Two Shots, One Place
Location! Location! Location! Scouting for nature and sports scenics, multifaceted photographer Stephen Matera sees a landscape as an opportunity for a variety of distinctly different images
“I stumbled upon that scene in the forest on my hike in to this location,” he explains, “and I was actually going to shoot some landscape photos up higher, but it was like, ‘Whoa, this is stunningly beautiful.’ This fog rolled through the forest; it wasn’t my goal, but it ended up being my favorite shot from that day. It’s completely different from up higher, but they’re both in the same general location. It’s a challenge to go out there with something in mind, but also be open to seeing other things. You certainly get your personal blinders on.”
Though Matera mostly photographs sports, he came to the profession by way of landscape photography. And although the aesthetics influence each other, that doesn’t mean his sports shots are simply landscapes with people added or that his landscapes are simply sports shots without the sports. Sometimes the two literally overlap, but not often. Arizona’s Wave sandstone formation is one of a few examples where Matera has made literally the same composition with and without people to create successful images. With a hiker, it’s a sports shot; without, it’s an abstract landscape.
Matera also capitalizes on changing weather to make the same locations look different day to day. This is a boon to the Seattle-based photographer because he can get to a variety of locales in a matter of hours. “Your sense of a place is based on the objects, the terrain,” he explains, “but also the atmospheric conditions—the weather, the fog, the light. Especially here in the Northwest, I like to shoot locally whenever possible. I like traveling, but it’s really hard on the environment. If I can stay close to home, great. I tell my clients, ‘Look, I live in Seattle. In a day’s drive, we have rain forest, coastline, multiple mountain ranges, desert.’ It gives me all these options for shooting for clients when they say they want a certain kind of setting.”
A wealth of diversity makes shooting two styles in one place more feasible, but it still requires drive, discipline and passion on the part of the photographer. It’s one thing to notice a location that would make for a nice landscape photo. It’s another to actually get up even earlier tomorrow to go back out to get it.
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