Pendry is the dude you hit up when you want to shoot a photograph and do so in a very specific way; you’ll look at the product and think, “Holy shit, that’s exactly how I imagined that trick looking.” Matt’s knowledge of supplemental lighting is matched by the patience of that of a bird of prey: A perfect orchestration of direction and timing that is so required to photograph skateboarding effectively. His meticulous care for abnormalities in the frame show his dedication to perfection, making a careful effort to Photoshop me out of the image after I refuse to give up the fisheye angle—and then have the nerve to ask me to clean the dust off his sensor! But that’s all good because he always pays cash. It’s a two-way street. Cheers, brother!—Carver Weeks
How old are you and where do you live currently and where are you from?
I’m 30 years old, currently living in Atlanta, Georgia. I was born and raised in the triad area of North Carolina.
How long have you been shooting skating and what got you into it?
I’ve been shooting skating for about two and half years now. I was always very intrigued by my friends’ camera and lighting set-ups I would see on sessions when I lived out in San Diego, but didn’t seriously get sparked on shooting skating until I moved to Atlanta about three years ago. I had friends in Atlanta that were trying to street skate everyday and film, and I had sold my brother my Nikon 3400 after spending a summer shooting in Yellowstone. I had just bought a Canon 6D and a couple lenses and speedlights. After shooting a few photos with my friend Max around town I was instantly hooked and that was all I could think about.
Is there one photograph or photographer that inspired you to take up photography?
I’ve always been heavily influenced by Brian Gaberman and Skin Phillips’ work, but the era of Hassleblad skate and bmx photography is what really inspired me to pick up a camera for skateboarding. I used to go on sessions around San Diego with all of my BMX homies and this photographer Jeff Zielinski would be there from time to time to shoot photos for Ride BMX, a large BMX print mag, similar to Thrasher or Transworld. He shot mainly on a Hassleblad, and seeing those photos still gets me sparked to shoot 6×6, you should look him up. But working with Carver Weeks on a local video here in Atlanta has inspired me to push my photography further. He taught me how to develop my own black and white film and we have a little darkroom running out back in the old laundry room. Seeing those images appear for the first time changed my perspective on photography a lot.
What’s the best and worst advice you’ve been given on photography?
The best advice would be to shoot more film, it will help you understand a lot as time goes on. Someone told me that you should never need to shoot vertically, this was a high paid wedding photographer too…
Do you have a favorite photo of your own?
I’ve always loved this photo of my friend Skylar while we were in Miami over New Years. We actually got up early (11 a.m., ha) one morning and went out to this park with some sick ledges we had skated the night before. I was so sweaty from skating the spot, that when I started shooting with my digital camera it was shorting out. I was super bummed thinking my camera was done for, so I just put it down and started shooting some Hassleblad frames. I found a nicely framed tree that would drape the scene and was stoked on the final product. My digital camera ended up being fine too, so win, win.
What’s the most interesting story behind one of your photos?
I was riding around one weekday with Dakota and Nik from Nashville, looking for spots and came across this wild drop in bank on the side of the liquor store on a hill. After they both almost died dropping in on this bank we went inside and got some beers and couldn’t resist the perfect set-up on the way out. This dude was parked right in the parking spot he was landing in, we shot the photo and a beer popped out the side and started spraying everywhere. So Dakota without hesitation shot gunned it in front of this dude sitting in his car, I don’t think he knew what to do.
What advice would you give to up and coming skate photogs?
Go out and skate with people every chance possible, get to know skaters around you and your scene. Send photos to your favorite photographers and magazines. Remember that print is a great thing and think a little more before posting your photos straight to a three-inch screen. Instagram is not the only way to get things out there in 2019, be patient. Composition is the most important element.
Best thing about shooting in your hometown:
Well since Atlanta is my now my hometown, I’d say the amount of untapped potential and the crustiness of the spots make for more unique photos. I like that stuff, over a sterile looking brand new building.
Do you prefer digital or film?
I prefer film, because I enjoy the process of shooting, going home and developing, then making a print. I think that’s a very important aspect to understand, but I shoot a good amount of digital too if not more. It comes down to the spot and the way I want the final image to look. I shoot commercial stuff to pay the bills, so digital is necessary at this point and more useful in some ways. They can both teach you things, but after a long day of shooting for work, I’d much rather pull out my Hasssleblad and force myself to think differently.
What’s in your camera bag?
Canon 6D, Canon EOS 1N, 15mm f2.8, 16-35 f4, 24-70 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8, 50 f1.2
Hassleblad 500CM, 80 f2.8, a lot of Tri-x, random color rolls, fireworks, shoestrings.
Lighting Bag: Three Streaklight 360s strobes, 2 Lumopro lp180rs, Phottix Odin trasmitters and recievers.
Your photography website if you have one: