Stephen Matera is an outdoor sports, lifestyle and natural landscape photographer based in Seattle. He shoots mostly commercial contract work for companies that manufacture gear/clothing for the outdoors but also the occasional editorial assignment for magazines. We were pleased to meet with Stephen and take an interview about his photography. He shared a very interesting story and we hope you will enjoy it much. Wish you a pleasant reading of an exclusive interview with Stephen Matera at AstrumPeople.
AP: Stephen, we are glad that we have such opportunity to take an interview about your photography. So let’s get started. Please tell me about your first shots. What did they look like?
Stephen: As with other photographers in my line of shooting, many start off with day jobs and transition to being a photographer. In my case, I worked as an engineer for a number of years while I honed my shooting and business skills. What did my first images look like? I’d rather not say! I’m always amazed by how time changes my perspective on my images. Often when I first shoot images, I am excited about them but after time, I’ll get more objective and some of that excitement wears off. And sometimes the opposite happens…I’ll grow to like other images more over time. But as I progress creatively, even my images that are a couple of years old feel stale to me.
AP: I think it’s because you are growing as a photographer, and that’s very good! Do you have any formal education in photography or were you self-taught?
Stephen: Mostly self-taught. I took a couple of landscape photo workshops about 15 years ago but after that, it was getting out and shooting a lot that taught me how to shoot. I have no formal photography education.
AP: Yeah, practice is the best way to improve your skills. By the way, what genre are your photos?
Stephen: I mostly stick to outdoor sports, lifestyle and landscape images. I think that shooting on location in the mountains prepares a photographer to be able to work in any environment because it requires good preparation, logistical planning, creative thinking, and needing to think on your feet. You also have to be able to work with the weather and the natural landscape, which is constantly changing. I shoot mostly natural light but have done some shooting with strobes. I enjoy the creative options that come with creating your own light, but I find overall it slows down the shooting process and makes it more cumbersome.
AP: That’s very good you give preference to natural light. Because natural light is always better. Stephen, what is your most reliable source of inspiration?
Stephen: I regularly look at other photographer’s work for inspiration and ideas. Often looking at another photographer’s work will spark and idea of something I could shoot in my own way/perspective.
AP: What kind of equipment and techniques do you use to take your pictures?
Stephen: I’m all digital now and have been for six years. I’m shooting with a Canon 5DII and 7D. I’m working on a windows 7 PC with a Lacie 724 monitor for accurate color with Photoshop CS5, Lightroom 2 and Photo Mechanic.
AP: Would you consider yourself as an expert in photography?
Stephen: Anybody would any humility would never consider themselves an expert in anything. There is always more to learn! I am happy to say I’m always learning more, getting better, and trying new things. Photography is definitely a discipline that continues to reveal itself as I continue to shoot.
AP: What do you do to reach your goals? Do participate in contests? How do you measure success?
Stephen: I’ve never been a fan of contests. I find I’m consistently surprised at the winning images. Years ago I entered a contest called the Washington State Photo Contest. The winning image was a photo from Oregon. That’s when I realized contests were not for me. I measure success when I push myself creatively and when my clients are happy with the results. I get most excited in trying something new or shooting a subject I’ve never shot before. This winter, there is an irruption of snowy owls in the United States. An irruption is when there is a temporary boom in the population. I don’t consider myself a wildlife photographer but I have taken three trips to a location in Canada (about a 2.5 hour drive from Seattle) to shoot them because I’m finding out how much I do like shooting them. I’m genuinely surprised how much I enjoyed shooting the owls.
AP: That’s incredible! Hope to see those pictures some day. Boom in the population of owls happens rarely and you were lucky to capture those moments. Is there someone who supports you in your creativity?
Stephen: As a sports and lifestyle shooter, I often lean on friends to model for me on my shoots. Or often, my friends help me get the word out that I’m looking for models. I usually get some money for them in the shoot also but much of what I do I couldn’t do without them. I also have a very supportive wife who understands that I need to go away for a week to shoot and she has to bear the burden of watching our kids by herself while I’m gone.
AP: Stephen, would you like to wish something to your readers and AstrumPeople?
Stephen: Thanks for reading this far! Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.
We’d like to thank Stephen Matera for his interview and very informative answers. Nature creates amazing landscapes and Stephen learned how to capture this beauty being in the right place and in the right moment. If you wish to learn more about Stephen Matera photography feel free to visit his personal website.
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