September Photo of the Month: Young Interest in Photography Cascades Through Life

Photo © Matt Foley

Photo and writing by Matt Foley

I think this particular image ties in pretty well to how I began my journey in photography. This was shot the first time I was able to show my parents around the Pacific Northwest, a region of the country neither had been to. 

The beauty of the Pacific Northwest blew my parents away. We explored Olympic National Park and checked out Wallace Falls (pictured) on our last day in Washington. It was really rewarding to show my mom around such a beautiful area she had previously never seen, as she was the inspiration for my photography passion. 

Growing up my mom constantly had a camera in hand, some of my earliest memories are of sitting in the makeshift darkroom that my mom turned my sisters bathroom into. I vividly recall being fascinated as I saw the photos develop. Fast-forward 18 years and I was attending university in the Midwest. Some of the best friends I made were from California, and I I ended up living in San Diego and San Francisco throughout my summers in school. I road-tripped five times from Ohio to California and back, camping along the way. 

It was on these trips that my fascination with outdoor and nature photography began. My friends and I would visit national parks along our road trips and I became enthralled with the beauty of the West. Mountains always had a special place with me due to my lifelong obsession with snowboarding, but seeing all the national parks elevated my appreciation of nature to a new level. 

I bought my first real camera and began another road trip across the country. I took tons of photos and loved sharing the stories that were associated with them. It was at this point I began teaching myself everything I could about photography through online resources. My mom, supportive as ever, gifted me Chris Burkard's outdoor photography course for Christmas and it became my Bible. I invested in a full-frame camera and began taking my photography a lot more seriously.

It's been 2 years since then, and I'm as passionate as ever about photography. It's been incredibly rewarding seeing my style develop and I'm excited to continue to improve. The stories behind the photos end up being my favorite part, as they usually involve some pretty interesting adventures. 

The thing that always keeps me coming back is how nature can make you feel so incredibly small. It contextualizes everything in my life when I look at something as beautiful as a mountain that took millions of years to form, and will be there for millions of years after I’m gone.

Camping is another aspect I love about landscape photography. Whenever I'm on a photo trip, it usually means I'm with friends camping, cut off from the outside world. There's nothing like sitting and staring at a vast landscape with friends and talking about the little details that comprise it.

Washington is one of my favorite states to photograph. The diversity of mountains, rugged coast and countless waterfalls keeps me coming back time and time again.

Matt Foley is a photographer currently living in San Francisco. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting in the makeshift darkroom, which sparked a passion for photography. Follow him on Instagram.