America

Presidents' Day Special Bonus_Zendaya Edition

Wow, I can't believe it's been a year since the Future American President book was first released with a foreword by Zendaya. To celebrate, we are releasing the eBook with two amazing bonuses. The first bonus is "5 secrets for taking great pictures of children" and the 2nd bonus, and this one is REALLY special, is a complete behind-the-scenes pdf of the making of Future American President. To make it ever better, it features behind the scenes images of the shoot with Zendaya as well.

The eBook with the bonuses is only available until midnight at the introductory price of $15! After midnight the price will increase to $20, so get your copy today!

Order online at FUTURE AMERICAN PRESIDENT

Oh, and by the way, tonight during the Grammy's Cover Girl will announce their new face who is none other than our amazing ZENDAYA!

Happy Presidents' Day!

Always dream big


Have you heard about the Havens Family?

What an amazing family! In 8 days, they are leaving on an incredible journey and they have invited everyone in America to come along with them.

I'm excited to say I have decided to go with them and document the journey. Yesterday I met the entire family, and the son, Jayden, who is seven years old, is very curious about life and is hooked on Minecraft. All he talked about was Minecraft and just wanted my attention so I could watch him play. I asked him was this his favorite game and he said, "Yes, but I also like this new game called Plants vs Zombies and Paceman championship edition deluxe. It has the most ghosts ever. Instead of just four, there can be any amount." I laughed and loved seeing the world through his eyes. It made me remember being his age where nothing else mattered but playing with my friends.

His sister, Raine, was more reserved but also excited about the journey their family is preparing to take. I hope you can join us as this is going to be something we will all remember forever.

Always dream big!

Take a trip with me!

So when was the last time you got away and did something fun and exciting? I've been planning something and I'm almost ready to share what it with you... but not just yet. I will give you a bit of a hint today. This is for the entire family.

We are getting ready to do something that has never been done before and that's always exciting, but it's also a bit scary as well. It involves camera's, mindcraft, explosions and travel, but that's all I can say for the moment.

This is going to be fun!

 

Always dream big,

Matthew


Massachusetts, Harvard and Future Presidents

The first two images below are outtakes from my shoot in Boston for Future American President. The day I photographed these images it was brutally hot, but my subject was cool and composed. I'd just come back from Beijing and after recovering from my jet lag, I set out to continue working on the book in the New England states.

Throughout the making of the book I wanted to find children who spoke in other languages, and thanks to the  Boys and Girls Clubs of America, I was able to find a subject who spoke Mandarin that was born in the United States.

Photographed at F 22.0 @ 1/125th

Photographed at F 22.0 @ 1/125th

 

To light the image, I  took a reading of the sunlight on my subject using a handheld light meter. The exposure read F16.0 at 1/125th. The lighting was harsh and not exactly the most flattering of conditions for a great photograph. To get the picture I wanted I needed to overpower the sun, so I set my strobe light to read F22.0 at 1/125th. One stop more than the sunlight reading. This allowed me to create an image with flattering light on my subject, and to have a better background. By shooting with strobe lights I was albe to drop my background exposure down to get richer colors in the image. If I were to increase my shutter speed from 1/125 to say 1/200th,  I would get more dramatic colors in my backgrounds.

An example of shooting at a faster shutter speed can be seen in the image below. Both images are shot in almost the same conditions. One image was shot in Utah and the other in Boston, Mass. but the conditions were the same. Both were photographed during the harsh sunlight hours and gave the same natural light exposure reading. In both images, I overpowered the sun by shooting at F22.0. The only difference is that the shutter speed in the image below was set to 1/200th vs 1/125. Notice how the sky appears to be a richer hue of blue. There are many advantages to shooting with strobe lights on location, and when working on a big project, like a book for example, you want to have a consistent feel throughout all of the images.

Photographed at F22.0 at 1/1200th of a second

Photographed at F22.0 at 1/1200th of a second

Good luck and have fun shooting this week.

Always Dream Big

Memorial Day Traval

Two years ago, on Memorial Day, I was traveling from state to state, working on a book project entitled Future American President. As I drove toward Indianapolis, Indiana I spotted what appeared to be a large group having a holiday barbeque. From the highway I could see tons of cars outside the home and a big green and white tent. For the Future American President project, I approached strangers all over America and asked them if I could photograph their children. As you can imagine, it was a bit scary doing this.

When I first saw the house from the highway I envisioned a large family having a great time together enjoying the holiday. I thought an image of a family spending time together in this way would be powerful and that families all over America would be able to relate to such an image. Something inside me said, go and knock on the door and introduce myself…Then my internal fight started. Part of me wanted to knock on the door and tell them about my project, but then part of me didn’t want to intrude. What if they wanted to be left alone? What if they thought I was some crazy lunatic? Also, lets face it, what if they were scared, (or hated) Black people? This was the internal fight that went on in my head as I drove down the highway. Two miles later, I thought about the words, “you have not, because you ask not.” I turned the car around and drove back to the house.

I truly believe God protects me throughout my travels wherever I go, so I can never really be fearful. The fear is always in your head. As I pulled up to the driveway, my heart was beating a million miles a minuet. It seemed no matter how many times I approached strangers and told them about my project, it didn’t get any easier. I knocked on the door and was greeted by a smiling face who asked, “can I help you?” I introduced myself and started talking about how I saw the family gathering and told her what I was doing. She said, “well it sounds like a great thing you’re doing but you’d have to ask the owners of the house.” Then she invited me in and took me out back where I saw about 30 people having a great time. I was introduced to the couple hosting the gathering and told them about my project and why I decided to stop at their home on Memorial Day. I showed them images on my ipad of other families I’d photographed around the country and they loved the project. Then they said, “well, who would you want to photography because there are a lot of kids here?” I said, how about the youngest child here? The next thing I knew I was being introduced to a young mother with a 7 week-old baby.

Future American President   

Future American President

 

 

Last week, my minister at One Church spoke about audacious living, and defined it as “showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks.” He said, “you will never be as great as you can be without taking risks. Creating Future American President is a series of bold risks but I believe in the message of this project. I believe this book has the potential to make a profound impact on children everywhere by seeing themselves in ways they wouldn’t have imagined otherwise.

 

I want to have a stronger impact on children with this project. What if I could include every child in America in the book? Well, my team and I have figured out how to do just that. Very soon every family in the world will have the ability to put their child’s face on the COVER of the FUTURE AMERICAN PRESIDENT book with a special edition version of the book. Imagine your child growing up with their face on the cover of a book that is dedicated to inspiring children to dream big.

Photography notes:

To photograph this image I used Profoto strobe lights to overpower the sun. This image was shot during the middle of the day, when the sun is the most intense. I shot one stop over the daylight reading. The sunlight was reading on F 16.0 @ 1/125th, so i used my Sekonic light meter and adjusted the strobe to read F22.0, which is one stop over the sunlight reading and makes for an image that is dramatic and solves the problem of bad light from midday sun.


Always Dream Big

Happy Memorial Day

As we celebrate Memorial Day today, I think of all the military families I met throughout the country as I worked on Future American President. I really enjoyed working with the family pictured below in the District of Columbia, but they are currently stationed out of the country. Today I salute all those who have served and currently serving to keep us safe.

To create this image of the family above, I thought first about the location. I wanted an image that showed Washington D.C. in a manner where it wouldn't dominate the shot. I wanted the children in the photograph to stand out and become the hero of the photograph. For that reason I decided to layer the shot. The main subjects are in the foreground, with the parents behind holding the younger child. To emphasis the daughters I used a Profoto strobe light and balanced the strobe to be just slightly over the daylight reading. For example, if the daylight was reading F16 @ 1/125, I adjusted my strobe to read F.16.5. This way the strobe light is just 1/2 stop over the ambient which helps my main subjects stand out, but keeps the parents within a good exposure as well. 

I loved photographing this family and the kids were all great. Watch out for these little girls in the future. One day, one of theem may run the country. 

 

Always Dream Big

LIVE PERISCOPE BROADCAST - INSPIRING THE WORLD THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHY

Today at 10:00am PST, I am doing a LIVE broadcast on How To Inspire The World Through Photography. 

The program can be viewed live on Periscope from your smart phone. If you are not familiar with the hot new app, Periscope is Twitter's Live new video broadcasting application. Download the app and watch today.


Always Dream Big

The Perfect Mother's Day Gift

Recently I've watched a select group of parents as they received something very unique and special. As each parent received this item I watched their expressions and their faces (and sometimes their tears) told me that we had something very special.  The comments from mother's, father's and even grandparent's have been wonderful to hear and thank you all for your comments and suggestions.

 I had an idea but  to bring the idea to life it needed a bit of tweaking. We are now about 60 days away from it being ready to share the perfect Mother's Day, Father's Day, graduation, birthday, every day gift with the world. So what's the perfect Mother's Day gift? One that will make her heart smile every time she looks at your gift, and become more precious as time passes.

Stay tuned and always dream big!