MIC Q&A October 2021

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UPAA Blog 2021-22 #5- 11/4/21 (text and photos by Matt Stamey) 

Matt Stamey is the staff photographer at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida. Matt has been a professional photographer for 17 years. Like many UPAA members, he started in newspapers, ultimately landing at the Gainesville (FL) Sun. Five years ago he made the switch to higher ed and joined Santa Fe College and UPAA at the same time. His Sports Features & Illustrations category photo “Flip” was voted Best in Show in the October 2021 Monthly Image Competition.

1. Quick tech stuff—camera model, focal length, exposure data, lighting used (if any):

•Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

•85mm f 1.2

•1/1000, f1.6, ISO 50

•Daylight only

2. How did this shoot land on your calendar? Did you have a plan/vision prior to the shoot?

My school only has five sports. So media day for each of the sports is always on my radar. I try to give each sport a different feel. And I try to make them different every year. About four years ago, we had an artist paint a mural on one of our buildings. I self-imposed a two-year rule on using it as a background in photoshoots since it’s so recognizable. I used it for a dance photoshoot a few months before the pandemic. And figured it had been long enough to bust it out again. I didn’t really have a plan or vision other than put the athletes against the wall and see what happens.

Much potential here!

3. Any unique logistics in making the photo? What sort of post processing (or not)?

The only major logistics were getting the parking spots blocked off so we’d have room to shoot against the wall… and scheduling the team to arrive in 20 minute intervals. But that was mostly on the campus PD and the coaches. There wasn’t much post-processing either. I went back and fourth between color and B&W. But in the end, decided on B&W because I thought the bright reds/yellows clashed with her calm facial expression.

Top, when the parking lot becomes a photo studio. Bottom, all the flips.

4. Did your vision before you made the photo come through in the final product? What (if anything) would you do differently if you could re-shoot this today?

This image was mostly the idea of the players TBH.  I hadn’t planned to shoot anything like this. I was focusing on an area of the mural that had large rocks and agave plants that I’ve been wanting to use for portraits for a while. The last set of players wanted to use a different section of the mural than the rest of the team so we scooted down a bit to the red/yellow portion of the wall. They were doing some b-roll for our videographer and I saw their hair moving around. And it just clicked to have them flip her hair straight back. There were three athletes with long braids so I had them all flip their hair over and over. (They were great sports about that). I honestly wouldn’t do anything differently. I love when photoshoots take on a life of their own like this. When both the subject and photographer are grooving with ideas.

5. What do you do to keep yourself motivated and interested in your work?

I put my camera away from time to time to stay motivated. I run, take my dog for a walk, travel, kick back with a movie…etc. The older I’ve become, the more I’ve realized that stepping away from the camera is the best way for me to stay fresh. But that doesn’t mean I don’t also look at other’s work or watch YouTube tutorials or enter contests. I definitely do that too. But the biggest thing for me is to put my camera down and not think about photography for a while.


"I bought the world’s worst thesaurus yesterday. Not only is it terrible, it’s also terrible." Thanks for reading the blog. Article submissions and suggestions are always welcome, email editor Matt Cashore, mcashore@nd.edu. Follow UPAA on Instagram, too!