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Photographer Matthew Turley grew up in Southeastern Idaho, to which he surely owes his affinity for landscape. Currently based in Salt Lake City, he's been shooting commercially since about 2006 and is represented by Marianne Campbell. When he's not working you'll likely find him skiing, climbing, traveling or reading by the fireplace.

11.22.11

Swept to Within A Few Feet of An Enormous Cliff

If you have a degree in what field is it? I have a BFA in photography with a minor in chemistry from Brigham Young University.

What was your strangest assignment? In 2005 I was pitching a travel-adventure shoot in Iceland to industry magazines and sponsors. Fortunately, one of my ski partners ended up securing financial backing in the form of a documentary film crew for an upcoming feature film, Steep, with the understanding that I'd be shooting stills. However, when we all met up in Reykjavik I was handed a model release along with the other athletes, which meant my “assignment” had just been reversed. In the end, my only appearance in the film is getting caught in an avalanche with my two companions and being swept to within a few feet of an enormous cliff—neither of which showcased much of my skiing (or photographic) prowess.

Which photographer would you like to meet? I’d say Nadav Kander, but I kind of got my wish last year at the Lucie Awards (albeit briefly); although I’d love to spend the day watching him work.

What famous person (living or dead) would you most like to photograph? Tough call, but I’ll say the Mormon prophet/founder, Joseph Smith. Although my perception of him has largely changed in recent years, I still consider him one of the more enigmatic historical figures. It’d be great to have a chance to glimpse the man behind his persona... and capture it on film. Admittedly not the best choice for future stock royalties, however, nor the sexiest. For that, I’d probably choose someone like Gwyneth Paltrow.

Aside from your camera and lighting, what item could you not work without? My iPhone, which allows me to pretend I’m in the office from anywhere in the world.

Is there anything you would not digitally retouch? No, are you kidding? Nothing’s that sacred anymore.

From where do your best ideas originate? I haven’t a clue, except perhaps from a relaxed state of mind.

How do you overcome a creative block? Traveling, which is precisely why I’ve spent most of the last year doing just that. Not only for the obvious reason of finding fresh material, but also for the self-awareness engendered when you have no daily ritual or itinerary. Done right, it can also lead to a fair amount of suffering, which is helpful as well.

Do you have creative pursuits other than photography? Not really, at least in the traditional sense, because photography seems to permeate most everything I do. However, creativity often goes uncelebrated outside of the arts and in that sense, creative problem-solving is largely what makes life interesting.

What music are you listening to right now? Ratatat.

What’s your approach to balancing work and life? Don't separate the two.

What’s your favorite quote? “Security is mostly a superstition.... Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” —Helen Keller

Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Everyone takes a different path in this industry.

What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? It would’ve been nice if I’d known (and believed) the above advice.