A conversation with Adventure
Photographer, Matthew Van Biene
by Editor, Brett Rawson
A few weeks ago, a laptop called my cell phone at eleven in the morning. It was Matt calling from his yurt in the woods, just outside of Mount Index in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. For him, it was eight in the morning, which meant it was still dark inside the trees, and the ground had just begun to soften. I was in my loft, the one I shared with my older brother in Brooklyn. Both of us had fresh pots of coffee sitting before us.
Matt and I go back to childhood, when we grew up a couple cul-de-sacs apart. We played games of heated street hockey through dusk, went undefeated one season as teammates on The Tigers in Little Leagues, and once found ourselves in an unfavorable situation with police officers and fireworks during our seventh grade spring break. But before high school, my family moved a few cities over, and we lost touch. Fifteen years later, I came across his photographs, and the great divide of time began to fill in.
I was struck by what his images conveyed: alpine ridgelines that tucked behind the jagged edge of earth, humans sleeping on the side of vertical cliffs 2,000 feet above solid soil, and smiles covered in dirt and pain. I could not look at his imagery and remain still. They showcased the wildness of mother nature, but more than that, within each shot, I felt the presence of people. I reached out, communicated my thoughts about his work, and we reconnected over our disconnection. Matt told me about the eight-month road trip that changed his life. I told him about a trail run that almost ended mine. He told me about the guidebook he is currently making, which is why he is living in a yurt. I told him about The Seventh Wave, which is why we had to talk. We still have plenty to exchange. But for this side conversation, I asked Matt to select ten images that speak to his portfolio, passion, and perspective. After he did, I asked him what went into the selection of those images. He replied:
“I picked all these images because they are formidable moments in my life.”
What does his life’s work have to say about perception and gaps? Listen to his words below as he talks about the essence of each image, and in a few weeks, at the end of the issue, you can read his words about the biggest gaps we face today and how he is trying to fill them.