Matt Lief Anderson's work has been quietly taking over the internet, and for good reasons. His breathtaking photos hold both the wonderment of the world and the simple beauty of art, a rare combination found in today's travel photography. Matt's photos have us not asking "where?" and "how?", but instead just sitting back and saying "wow"... And for that we're grateful to catch up with the young photographer, and see where he's at in both the world and his art.
1. Who are you?
My name is Matt Lief Anderson. I’m a 32 year old photographer currently based in Austin, TX.
2. Describe your medium & process for your work...
I would consider myself a travel photographer. I lived in Asia and Europe for 4 years and traveled every chance I got. Now I’m back in the states and manage to take a few road trips here and there but I’m mostly based in Austin now. Recently I’ve done a lot of Music work for Pitchfork and Vice. I like to keep busy with a variety of projects rather than sticking to a particular genre. I think if you look at my work there is a vibe and aesthetic that ties it all together.
3. How did you find your passion? Who/what influences your work?
I started shooting because I moved to Asia to teach English and bought a camera with my first paycheck. Travel is really important to me and documenting everything I was doing made a lot of sense at the time. I still try to maintain a balance between shooting and having actual authentic experiences away from my camera. I don’t want to see the world through a lens. Some of the best experiences I’ve had traveling happened off camera and I’m cool with that.
Films influence my work. I obsess over directors and cinematographers and take screen shots and mental pictures of some of my favorite scenes. Some films that really spoke to me were “2001 A Space Odyssey”, “There Will Be Blood”, “No Country for Old Men”, “The Royal Tenenbaums”, “Blade Runner”, “Badlands”, “Django Unchained” and most recently “The Revenant”.
4. What excites you about your work? What do you struggle with?
I get excited by nostalgia. I look back at a lot of my photos and recall the moments I captured. And it makes me happy when people look at my work and get inspired to travel or get out of their comfort zone.
I struggle with video. I’m sitting on plenty of good work but editing everything together is another animal. It blows me away when people can really tell a story with a short video. I don’t want to send my work out to an editor to build a motion reel. I’d like to be able to handle everything on my own.
5. What are your goals? Where do you see yourself going?
My goal is to be able to turn down photo jobs that don’t interest me. I’d like to spend my time working with companies that I can connect to and allow me creative control.
I see a lot of personal travel work in my future. I’ve focused a lot on paid work over the last couple years. I need to shoot more for myself. This year is all about travel. I also work on a website called the Adventure Handbook with some of my friends. It’s growing rapidly and I plan on spending a lot more time this year on getting more great content for our viewers.