by Jo Barnes | photo courtesy Matt Shannon Photography –
Some artists express what they see with a paintbrush; others create images with their pen.
But Sidney nature and landscape photographer, Matt Shannon, uses a camera lens to convey his artistic vision. And while authors or painters might have to do some preparation beforehand, for Matt that process can take days.
“It takes patience and time,” comments Matt, who goes on to share a memorable example. “I wanted to get an image of a southbound train in the Canadian Rockies at sunrise. “I slept in the car overnight, with the snow all around. I captured the photo on the third day.”
The preparation and patience paid off. That photograph has garnered significant attention and has become his most commercially successful print.
Matt’s photography journey began at an early age when his interest was ignited by an elementary school fundraising contest.
“We had to sell chocolate bars to raise funds for a local charity. The prize for the highest number of sales was a camera,” relates Matt. “I really wanted that camera, so I managed to sell the most chocolate bars, and I won it.”
He took many photos with that first camera, and it wasn’t long before photography became Matt’s regular pastime.
“At age 18, I travelled the U.S., Canada and South America. Eventually, I got into digital photography,” he notes. “My friends and family loved the images and thought I should pursue photography.”
For many years, Matt was involved in building custom homes locally, but his passion for photography was always there.
“I kept buying more photo equipment, finding new angles and advancing my skill set,” he says.
His talent didn’t go unnoticed, and he was asked to take photos of the homes being constructed. Over time, he was offered photography opportunities through other trades.
“I took photos for a glass company and other commercial building clients,” states Matt.
By 2019, Matt decided to do photography full time, and he hasn’t looked back since. His business portfolio consists of numerous commercial clients including hotels, custom home construction, as well as architectural, marketing, tourism, and media organizations. His online store – found at www.mattshannon.ca – features an extensive inventory of his prints. Matt is accredited by the Professional Photographers of Canada.
His work consistently garners positive response. Sometimes, comments catch him off guard.
“When I first opened my online store, I remember my first sale was from someone in Germany,” says Matt. “The client said ‘I’ve been watching your work and I love your photos.’ I felt humbled that someone so far away was following my work.”
A nature enthusiast at heart, he thoroughly enjoys capturing the beauty and majesty of the great outdoors.
“Nature is my happy go-to place,” he shares. “My photos are a result of that pleasure.”
Getting just the right image takes more than just time and technical skill. It also requires having a good eye.
“When you look at an image, where does your eye go?” asks Matt. “The eye is easily distracted.”
The subject of his work might also dictate the time in the day that he can capture his desired image.
“I had wanted to take a picture of this grey horned baby owl,” says Matt. “Sunrise was 5 a.m., so I was up at 3:45 driving to the destination. I needed time to set everything up.”
For Matt, the camera grants him unique access to special experiences such as observing a grizzly bear catching food or a whale breeching.
“You can get close to the subject with the right lens,” he says.
Photography will always be Matt’s passion, but over the years, he has come to recognize the desire to share his experience and knowledge with others.
“A photographer’s life is one of solitude,” shares Matt. “Teaching photography is a breath of fresh air. It’s beneficial to me as it strengthens my skills. It has helped me to become more precise with my camera.”
Matt has given presentations for many groups including Victoria Camera Club and Sidney Shutterbugs as well as running workshops. This August and September, Matt will be offering “Grizzly Bears, Whales and Culture,” an opportunity for those wanting to explore west coast locations and create images. He also has a YouTube channel where he shares tips and information about photography.
In Matt’s hands, the camera is a powerful artistic tool for him to share sights that few would otherwise get to see.
“Like a poet writing about a feeling or image, it’s a way to articulate how beautiful a place is,” he remarks. “I get so thrilled to capture what I see.”
To present a moment in time and a snapshot of something special takes time, talent and tenacity. Matt Shannon knows this well. His photography not only captures the world beautifully, but viewers around the world are captivated by the images.