Outdoor Photography
Tetons Rising by Matthew Torrie

It is my theory that in every backpacker there is a frustrated outdoor photographer dreaming of hitting the road and back trails to capture that one-of-a-kind shot of untamed America. Unfortunately, whenever I have entertained this dream, I always end up with more pictures of my thumb or with my camera submerged trying to get the ubiquitous waterfall shot. Hoping to get some pointers for the upcoming backpacking season, I tracked down local professional photographer Matthew Torrie for some helpful advice and to checkout his latest road-trip photos.

Pro Tip #1: Matthew says a landscape is different every time you shoot it, check the weather and think about the light. Sunrise and sunset usually provide some interesting light, as do storm clouds. Shoot for your surroundings; weather, time of day, subject. He recommends shooting right at dawn to two-hours after, then scout your next shot and start shooting again two-hours before sunset.

Pro Tip #2: Matthew says you have to get involved in the photo, “Many times I know it will evoke emotion, because the moment moves me. I want to bring that emotion to the people that view my photos; I want them to feel it like I felt it.”

Outdoor Photography
Antelope Canyon, Arizona. Photo by Matthew Torrie.

In 2013, Matthew hit the road to photograph some classic American landscapes and establish an impressive outdoor photography resume. Matthew toured the classics of western vistas: the Sawtooth Range, Jackson Hole, Moab, Monument Valley, Antelope Cannon, and Death Valley to name just a few of the highlights. The road-trip took 26 days, and Matthew logged over 7,300 miles; his secret for endless driving, packing heavy equipment and waiting for that perfect light? Red Bull and beef jerky. Matthew added, “The adventure of going places no one else was and getting the picture no one else has kept me going, too.”

Outdoor Photography
Horse Way: Vantage, Washington. Photo by Matthew Torrie

Matthew, originally from the Toronto area of Canada, has always been into the outdoors, but didn’t always plan on being a professional photographer. Growing-up, Matthew spent most of his childhood in the mountains and on ski teams, ultimately winning an international ranking as a ski racer. But five concussions in two years brought Matthew’s skiing career to an end before it really had a chance to take off. After leaving ski racing, Matthew went to school for business and engineering, but the wild expanses and big views he grew up with always called him back. The 2013 road-trip was a kind of defining moment for Matthew; a chance to fully commit himself to his art, his love of the outdoors and to his dream of being a professional outdoor photographer. Recounting a particularly difficult part of the trip where he was up 36 hours straight before finally passing out at the Death Valley Visitor’s Center, Matthew says, “it was difficult being creative on the road; I was putting pressure on myself to create something no one else had created.”

Outdoor Photography
Matthew Torrie took a 26-day, 7300 mile, Red Bull and beef jerky fueled adventure to take the perfect photo. Photo by Matthew Torrie

The creative energy spent during those 26 days paid off for Matthew, receiving much critical acclaim for his work. In 2014, Matthew’s photo, Tetons Rising, received two honorable mentions (nature and panoramic categories) in the International Photography Awards – Professional Class, putting Matthew in the same class as renowned photographer Jeff Mitchum, who also received honorable mention. Matthew’s photo, entitled Balanced in the Night, was a finalist in the Outdoor Photographer American Landscape competition and two photos received merit awards by the Professional Photographers Association. In addition, Matthew’s photos were featured in the 2014 Jackson Hole Art Show and, this month, his work will be exhibited in the Beverly Hills Art Show at Beverly Gardens Park.


Outdoor Photography
Balanced in the Night: Moab, Utah. Photo by Matthew Torrie

Pro Tip #3: For Milky Way shots, Matthew says, look for clear nights with a New Moon or plan to shoot after the moon sets. Moonlight will kill the shot.

Pro Tip #4: Matthew carries between 40-50 pounds of gear on a shoot. Two camera bodies, six lenses, multiple flashes, Cannon speed light, tripod and lots of patience. Matthew says the trick is to use a heavy tripod; when shooting long exposures, it’s critical that the camera remain stable in sometimes unpredictable weather conditions – a heaver tripod is worth the weight.

Outdoor Photography
Capturing the perfect shot takes the right equipment, preparation and patience. Photo by Matthew Torrie

Matthew recounts a moment in Badwater Basin, Death Valley. He got there, hiked in and set-up before anyone else had arrived. He said it was completely silent and the peaks just rose out of the salt flats before him… and then the sun rose. He said it moved him. It was a shot no one else was going to get.

And isn’t that the point?

Outdoor Photography
Badwater Basin, Death Valley. Photo by Matthew Torrie.

To check out more of Matthew’s work, go to MATTHEWTORRIE.COM.

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