Creative: Nate Matos Zines

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Yes, yes, yes, I’ve written about Nate Matos many times, but he’s the only Nate I know so I’m going to keep going until he is dead. And, he’s really, really good. He keeps MAKING THINGS. This new series is classic Matos. Cool, simple, clean and cohesive. The reflections of a compulsive collector of images. Nate seemingly just dreams things up and then goes and does them. No pretense. No massive ego. No need to wave flags of following. He just does it. Ahhhh, so refreshing.

Here is a dose of reality and explanation from Nate.

An Arizona Motel:
Littered throughout the American Southwest live housing that has seen a unique form of gentrification. Towns that once offered state routes as a main street, letting passers by choose to stop for the night have been bypassed with freeways just outside of town. Left alone, motels have been repurposed to tourist attractions, abandoned, or used for storage.
‘An Airzona Motel’ is a short photo essay of one of these structures. Sitting behind a simple fence has rooms filled not with people, but instead paint cans and hardware of all types.

Color Theory:
Each cover in the ‘Color Theory’ series is screen printed, leading to variations in ink and consistency a direct correlation with the varied familiarity found within. This first print run is only 15 copies of each publication. This is a project I’ve been working on for some time, and I feel is the next iteration of my earlier exploration into the repetitive and monotonous themes I first established in my 2016 series ‘Blandscapes’. Similarly, after the first printing it is an open release with no established end date or limit to quantity of publications. I do know there is a third and potentially fourth release planned beyond these first two.

Various Shades of:
The first release in my ‘Color Theory’ series of publications; ‘Various Shades of [brown]’ is an exploration of the warmth of brown hues found within the man-made landscapes of California and the American Southwest.

In the Middle:
The second release in my ‘Color Theory’ series, ‘[green] In the Middle’ looks at the contrasting environments of trees and other plants living within urban environments.

20 Images 1.44mb IBM Formatted:
A series I first presented on at the (now closed) Newspace Center for Photography in Portland, Oregon. This limited publication is part of a mixed medium interactive photographic exhibit.

For this project, I created a taxonomy allowing me to categorize a collection of nearly 1,000 photographs. Each image divided into primary and secondary annotations and stored on an individual floppy disk. As the disks are labeled with the contents, they are then re-photographed for the collection shown in this publication. The series of images published are all that is presented to the viewer unless they are able to see the series in person. Doing so allows them to interact with the disks, selecting images they want to see, and loading them into the viewing cart.

This series was built as a way to bring the viewer into the photographic process. By forcing them to touch and imprint their personal choices into the images they see, the photographs are no longer disposable images flashing before them online but a part of them.

You can see my prototype display in the video here:

If I had to describe the category of photographer that Nate belongs to I would say “outsider.” I say this with fondness not as a barb. What I find interesting today is that vast majority of work I see, great work, is being done NOT by industry people who are locked in to the way things “have to be done,” but “outsiders” who just do what it is they want to do. I’m even seeing people who used to be entrenched in the idea of what the photo-industry was 20-years-ago who now realize that world is gone and they are branching out. Opening up photo cafes, becoming lens based artists instead of straight photographers or joining NGO’s as staff and NOT as contract photographers. I’ve never spoken to Nate about this, so he might entirely disagree, but he’s not here right now and it’s my site. So there.

If you don’t read his site you should start, and while you are at take a look at his store.

Comments 9

  1. I find myself dismayed by the inability of younger (and some older) photographer to break free from Egglestonian and Stephen Shore influences. That style has been so overdone that I can’t even look at it anymore.

    This work just blends in with all the other “film photographers” on Instagram who think that because they crop cars off and tilt their images using crappy print film that they are artists.

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      Hey Bob,
      Alright, someone with an opinion. I like it. Here is my view on this topic. I think, often times, photographic style is based on chosen lifestyle and chosen exposure, combined with what resonates with you. I was influenced by Larry Burrows and his color work from Vietnam. His work hit me unlike anything I had ever experienced, at least at that point in my life, but I now shoot mostly black and white and no longer do journalism or reportage. I was not a fan of Eggleston or Shore. I felt they were detached, lazy and were just randomly snapping what they happened to be around, not that they had really chosen to undertake a “story” or “project.” It took me about twenty-five years to understand what they were doing, and how it fit in the grand scale of photography. Now I don’t find myself drawn to straight photography at all. I like conceptual work, which twenty-five years ago I thought was for people with no talent who weren’t good enough to make actual images of actual things happening in real time. I still feel this way, at least with certain projects, but now I totally get conceptual work and the freedom that comes with it. For me personally, I don’t care what Nate shoots. What I like about his is that he finds a story, ACTUALLY DOES IT, as opposed to just talking about do it, then edits, sequences, PRINTS and moves on. A bit of personal advice, delete Instagram. If really want to appreciate photography, that is the worst place you can possibly be. I know, I’m on there.(for work) However, if you don’t want to delete the account then at least unfollow all photographers. Four groups to follow. drunkpeopledoingthigns moronsdoingthings highpeopledoingthings and kookslams ALL will provide you the only value coming from something like IG….humor.

  2. Hi Bob,
    I, as well as Daniel, like people with opinions, makes everything more interesting and makes you question things, and that questioning only can bring good things.
    So I see where you coming from with your comment. It is true that those photographer’s styles have been imitated by a lot of people, i will venture myself to say that all of us have shot (or still do) pictures like that, or with a clear reminiscence to them. I think was Ralph Gibson who said that all the images you have seen in the past condition somehow the photos you take now; it is nothing but a Pavlovian response to those images that we have imprinted in our brain. I don’t think this is a bad thing, nor a good one, it is just what it is. It is true that Eggleston has a huge influence on people (I have a friend that started crying at a museum seeing his photos because she was so moved), and that is nothing bad. Fuck I’ll probably will do the same on a Moriyama’s exposition! (Yes, another one that has been overdone). But hasn’t Adams been overdone? Or Avedon? Or (replace with the name of any famous photographer)?
    I think photography is like ice cream, everybody has a favorite flavor and nobody is obligated to eat the flavor you don’t like. And we all think our favorite flavor is the best and everybody else is somehow wrong. But you don’t go around giving shit to people because they are eating “the wrong flavor”, you just accept it a move along.
    Independently of Nate’s style, the cool thing about him is how prolific he is when it comes to create printed material. I am sure that there are other photographers with different styles that are doing the same. However it is, creating stuff is always a great thing. Discuss about it too. Like I said before, exchange of points of view and ideas only can bring out good things.

    Keep ’em coming Nate. Keep the opinions coming Bob. Maybe we can stir some minds.

  3. Bob
    When I did photojournalism I photographed events or stories involving issues. Its taken me a while to realize you can also photograph ideas. Gary Winogrand said he photographs to see what things look like photographed. A photograph may be about a lot of things but it’s also about photography itself too I guess.

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      Conceptual photography. Some of the best work being done is in this field. It sheds the bullshit consumer world of tech/gear/nonsense/fanboys and is about actual ideas. This is why you rarely hear anything about it or it’s practitioners.

  4. Agreed. Was looking at Robert Frank’s “The Americans” a couple of days ago. Still fresh after all these years. Not sure if it’s conceptual but it sure asked more questions than answered.

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      Yes, and that was a book Americans didn’t like very much because it actually dealt with a reality we didn’t want to face. Sound familiar?

    2. I’m reading the new biography of Frank and I learned that the public was largely oblivious to Frank and it was the Photo press like popular photography that threw their hissy fit. Really surprising was that the NYT and New Yorker were quite positive about Frank’s book. And yeh we all still aint woke yet😋

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