Sunday, July 31, 2011

In the last ten days...

In the last ten days I have done.... precisely nothing creative or photographic.

Ok, that's not entirely true, but it's pretty close. I've been in the middle of a creative slump. No muse. No real vision, not a lot going on in my head.

Most people who do creativity know how it goes. Whether you call it a slump, a rut, or simply discouraging - it's not much fun any way you slice it.

To help myself get back on the creative horse, yesterday I traveled with Dahlia as her photographic assistant for a photoshoot in Buffalo Park. A beautiful location - though surprisingly warm under the sun, even at 9:00am.

I enjoyed assisting miss Dahlia, and eventually I got the chance for a few frames with our model for the morning, miss Rachel Lilly. She is an aspiring model looking to be signed by a particular modeling agency, the name of which I managed to forget.

Anyway, I had two goals for my brief shoot with miss Lilly:

  1. Don't rip off Dahlia's concept
  2. Make something that doesn't totally suck

I think I managed to do both. While Dahlia shot, I had the opportunity to look around and spy for alternative locations and ideas. It took me quite a while to figure out what I wanted to do, but slowly a vision formed. When it came to my turn with Rachel, I was able to create my concept within about about 50 frames.

 click to enlarge

That is that. With any luck, my muse will return to me as August envelopes Flagstaff. Until then, stay tuned for posts at

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Shoot for you

Warning: This is a rant.

Many of the photographers I know spend a lot of their time shooting for clients. That is to say - most of my friends make money on photography and have to live up to other people's standards for their imagery.

I firmly believe that every project you shoot should be a personal project. Your vision for everything you shoot should be what separates you from the masses who are all trying to create and re-create the same pictures in a style that is "hot" or "in demand" now.

I shot one of these trying to duplicate a popular style, and the second in the way that I wanted to shoot it. Which is more powerful?

Sure, the back-lit, lens-flare, portrait-in-a-field look is "in" now, but why do I keep seeing the same concept repeated in every fashion/wedding/commercial/music publication? It seems like the photo industry *thinks* that it has to balance personal taste with what is in demand.

Your vision is in demand. You might not know it - and your potential client probably doesn't know it either  - but your creative voice is what will get you paid in the long run. Practice shooting what you enjoy in a way that you enjoy shooting it. Eventually, people will realize your consistent voice is better than those people who jump around trying to duplicate whatever style is popular.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Portraits in Sepia: Alexandra

Yesterday marks the first time I have ever shot a portrait session in color and converted the whole thing into sepia. I knew it was coming, I just didn't know how I would feel about the results.

The magnificent Alexandra modeled for me in a truly stunning outfit. I toyed with the idea of letting some of the color of her red dress and lipstick bleed through the sepia toning, but ended up leaving the red out in favor of the more dramatic and more old-fashioned monochrome.

The setup was quite simple. One light (as is generally the case), diffused through a piece of paper to just take the edge off the harshness. Fill is natural light from a sky that couldn't make up its mind. Cloudy, sunny, cloudy, sunny made for many shutter speed adjustments during this shoot to balance things out.

After the shoot, I spent the day printing and framing my contributions to thevisualCollective's next gallery show - August will see tvC in Animas Beads with a greater variety of work and certainly many larger pieces to show!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Free Running - Take II - Call to Arms

Calling all free-running parkour-loving athletes!!!

A couple months back I did a shoot of the DAFT Free Running group based in Phoenix. One of their members, Fernando, hooked me up with Five Ten Shoes - who in turn licensed several of my images for a trade show in Europe.

As it turns out, Five Ten wants more photos of free-running action - so they've given me a deal:

Three pairs of Five Ten shoes for athletes who will come up to Flagstaff and participate in a day-long photoshoot showcasing their skills. I will be teaming up with Taylor Mahoney of thevisualCollective fame to create images of epic awesomeness. The pictures will likely be displayed in the U.S. and possibly in Europe.

If you're interested, drop me a comment below or send me an email: matt [at]

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Portraits: Amanda

It had been way too long since I photographed by good friend and ex-roommate Amanda, so the other day we got together and made some pictures.

The goal of the shoot was twofold. First, get a cutesy portrait-y picture that she probably wouldn't mind sending to her mom.
Second, to goth her out in black clothes and makeup and get something a little darker and a bit more creepy.

Above you see Amanda as she actually exists in real life. Beautiful.

Below you see Amanda as the kind of girl your mother warned you to stay away from in high school.

I absolutely love the intensity of this last image. The way her head is just slightly cocked, the way she seems to be staring directly at the viewer... it creeps me out and intrigues me simultaneously. 

After we finished taking pictures, we decided to go shopping. The looks we got from the people in Walmart were absolutely priceless. Perhaps next time I'll hide a camera on her somewhere and just have her walk around like this...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Storm chasing images

As promised, here are my favorites from my recent week on the road.

Dust devils on the way out of Arizona. The only phenomenon we saw that even remotely resembled a tornado

Case measuring windspeed and direction

Controlled burns on the backroads of South-East Kansas

The Jesus Truck

Sunset at Fall River Lake as a big storm approached

The big storm. Lighting and thunder and wind around 3am

Drive-by shot through the window

Aftermath of our biggest storm and longest chase in Southern Colorado

I used the D300s and either the 70-200mm F/2.8 or the 35mm F/1.8 nearly the entire time. Occasionally I tossed on the 18-55 kit lens with my trusty wide-angle adapter to catch the entire storm front or to get a vignette straight out of camera.

Overall, it was an interesting experience. I don't think I'll be going out storm chasing again until I can get a better workflow together for checking radar, shooting, communicating, etc. Two people wasn't enough - but a team of three people would be perfect for storm chasing. Of course, I wouldn't mind getting some actual severe weather as well.

Coming soon: new portraits!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Trashy hotel

Man it feels good to be home!

I spent the last week on a road trip throughout the great plains, searching for extreme weather and beautiful landscapes to photograph and enjoy.

We didn't see much in the way of storms, but we did encounter several hotels that were simply laughable. In the spirit of adventure, we purposefully stayed in hotels and motels with the lowest possible reviews online. One star and below.

Below is the series of images that I compiled from our single worst room:

Stay tuned for the actual photos from the trip!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Storm chasing

Friends and followers,

I'm on an amateur storm chasing expedition/road trip for the next week. Please stay tuned to my Twitter feed for updates, most of which include pictures.

Enjoy your week!

- Matt Beaty

Friday, July 1, 2011

July Backgrounds

Good morning everyone! Welcome to July!
Sorry I missed out on the June Backgrounds!

Here are the three images I will rotate through this month for my desktop background!

The first two are from Indiana. The third is from somewhere in Utah.

With any luck I will settle into a routine of sorts in a couple weeks and blogging will resume at it's usual pace. Until then - enjoy the sporadic postings!

Also - thevisualCollective has a gallery show tonight in downtown Flagstaff. If you're in the neighborhood, please stop by Pasto and take a gander at our images!