Life in Focus: Brian Matiash on Urban Exploring & HDR


Brian Matiash is known for meshing two of his passions together; Urban Architecture and HDR Photography. Additionally, he is the community manager for Google+’s Photos. As he is also one of F-Stop Gear’s Pro Team members, they have chosen to feature him for the second episode of their “Life in Focus” mini-series. We had a chance to chat with Brian while he had some downtime at the recent Google I/O conference. Head on past the break for our Q+A session with Brian Matiash and also be sure to check out our interview with Tim Kemple.

Phoblographer: Your images feature both bustling cities and widespread landscapes. Where do you feel most comfortable and why?

Brian Matiash: Truthfully, I feel totally at home in both environments. Growing up in Brooklyn, NY gave me an appreciation for dense, urban areas and helped me identify what it is about architecture and urbanity that I find so appealing. After living in Portland, OR for almost two years and having regular access to some of the most beautiful landscapes that I’d ever seen, I also quickly grew to appreciate the solemn beauty of nature. There really is nothing quite like standing in the middle of a stream with just you and your camera. Waiting for those long exposures to finish while simply taking in the sounds and breathing in that fresh air are some of my fondest memories as a photographer.

 ©Brian Matiash

Phoblographer: What about a scene inspires you to capture it?

Brian Matiash: In all honesty, I think it boils down to simple geometrics. I’m always looking for patterns and lines to emerge in different ways. Whether it’s a stream zigzagging around or an array of cable conduits bolted to the side of an apartment building, shapes, patterns, and lines are my usual sources of inspiration.

 ©Brian Matiash

Phoblographer: What attracts you to HDR photography?

Brian Matiash: When I first began delving into HDR photography many years ago, I think I was simply enamored by that look that you can achieve. Most people know exactly what I am talking about. It is that same look that led to the huge stigma surrounding HDR. However, as I dove deeper, I gained an appreciation for HDR as a utility and not a style. My firm belief about HDR is that it should be used to represent the full tonal range of your scene beyond what can be captured in a single exposure. If anything, my tone-mapped HDR images look rather flat – but evenly exposed. It’s during the next stage – the stylization stage – where I infuse my imagination and creativity to achieve a specific look.

Life in Focus E02 – Brian Matiash from f-stop || Gear on Vimeo.

Phoblographer: How do you go about scouting locations before you shoot?

Brian Matiash: I’ll admit that I am rather awful at scouting. It’s mostly because I have such an infinitesimally short attention span. However, when I do have a location in mind that I’d like to go visit, the first thing I’ll do is visit Google Images to see what has already been shot and how. I do this mostly to try and avoid getting the same shots as other have already gotten. Also, I love spending time in Trey Ratcliff’s free app, Stuck on Earth, especially now that it has been released for Android. It makes scouting super easy.

 ©Brian Matiash

Phoblographer: You’re the community manager for Google + Photos. How have you seen the community evolve over your time with the company?

Brian Matiash: One of the most rewarding things I’ve seen with the photography community on Google+ is how strongly everyone embraces learning and growing. There are so many amazing photographers who so generously give their time and lend their knowledge to help empower others who are learning to grow their skills and their creative vision. It is so humbling to be the voice of this community and to take their needs into consideration as we continue to build a bigger and better Google+ environment for photographers and photography lovers.

Phoblographer: What would you think about Google Glasses capturing HDR images?

Brian Matiash: While I think that’d be a very cool idea, I can’t comment on anything Glass related. 😉

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