Meet Stephen Matera: Professional Outdoor Photographer

dsb8-190Meet one the pho­tog­ra­phers behind many images fea­tured on The Clymb. Pro­fes­sion­al out­door pho­tog­ra­ph­er, Stephen Mat­era, shares insights and details into the excit­ing life as an out­door, sport, lifestyle, and land­scape pho­tog­ra­ph­er.  

How long have you been a pho­tog­ra­ph­er?
I have been shoot­ing for 17 years of which the last 10 years have been full-time. Wow, time goes fast!

How did you evolve toward out­door lifestyle pho­tog­ra­phy?
I start­ed out main­ly shoot­ing nat­ur­al land­scapes and moved into sports and lifestyle lat­er. My eye for com­po­si­tion and light was shaped while shoot­ing those land­scapes and helped me tremen­dous­ly in my sports and lifestyle shoot­ing.

What would you say is your career highlight(s) or sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ments?
A pho­to career is a pro­gres­sion. I’ve had many mile­stones and achieve­ments over the years that I’m proud of. Back­pack­er Mag­a­zine has used my images on the cov­er twice in the past cou­ple of years. Anoth­er high­light was trav­el­ing to Ice­land for a shoot for Kel­ty. What an amaz­ing place!
I have two kids and will some­times use them when shoot­ing for clients. I always love to see them in print. A cou­ple of years ago I was in a gear shop in Whistler with my fam­i­ly and found a Kel­ty back­pack with a hang­tag with my son’s pho­to on it from a shoot a cou­ple of years ear­li­er. That was a nice sur­prise!

dls21-074

Can you explain how your images are fea­tured on theclymb.com?
I shoot for many com­pa­nies that make out­door gear (Jans­port, Sier­ra Designs, Moun­tain­smith, Cas­cade Designs). These are the kinds of com­pa­nies that theclymb.com fea­tures. When I shoot for those com­pa­nies, they will often license the right to dis­trib­ute those images to retail­ers such as theclymb.com for a peri­od of time, usu­al­ly a year or two. So my clients will work with theclymb.com to deliv­er images that show their gear in use, and often those are my images.

What are some of your most mem­o­rable shoot­ing expe­ri­ences?
Mem­o­rable can be good or bad, right? Well, I’m actu­al­ly pret­ty gen­tle with my gear. It’s expen­sive stuff and I depend on it to work when I need it to. I’ve been on two sep­a­rate shoots when I took my pack off on a steep slope and it end­ed up rolling a cou­ple of hun­dred feet down the moun­tain. Amaz­ing­ly noth­ing was dam­aged either time. Anoth­er time I was float­ing the Skag­it Riv­er in Wash­ing­ton State in Jan­u­ary, tak­ing pho­tos of the bald eagles. Our boat flipped a hun­dred feet before the pull­out and I toast­ed a lens and cam­era body. FYI, I wouldn’t rec­om­mend doing that. The riv­er is very cold in Jan­u­ary!

How about mem­o­rable scenery?
Anoth­er great shoot­ing expe­ri­ence were the aer­i­al pho­tos I took of the South­ern Alps in New Zealand. They are some of the most spec­tac­u­lar moun­tains in the world and I was lucky enough to have per­fect con­di­tions to shoot.

Cap­tur­ing great images requires skill and head­ing to the unknown. Have you ever been in  a “dan­ger­ous” sit­u­a­tion?
I’m real­ly not the kind who seeks out dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions. But occa­sion­al­ly I do find myself in them. The unplanned dunk in the Skag­it Riv­er men­tioned above was actu­al­ly pret­ty dan­ger­ous but luck­i­ly end­ed up just being a cold swim in Jan­u­ary.  I spend a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time on steep slopes in the back­coun­try in win­ter­time. Luck­i­ly, the Cas­cades are a mar­itime snow­pack and snow tends to stick to slopes where it won’t stick in oth­er moun­tain ranges. How­ev­er, there’s still been a few times where I’ve been knocked over or swept down­hill in small slides while shoot­ing. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, it seems some of the best pho­to­graph­ic angles tend to be from the most exposed spots. I try to be very care­ful in the back­coun­try and weigh the risks of a pho­to ver­sus the ben­e­fits. I usu­al­ly err on the side of cau­tion and tell the ath­letes I’m work­ing with not to risk it just for a pho­to. There will always be more pho­to ops.

To view Stephen Matera’s port­fo­lio, please vis­it: materaphoto.com | stephenmatera.com