he summit of Mt Baden-Powell - my first winter ascent

Matthew Kuhns. Photographer. Explorer.

Photographer Matthew Kuhns is an award winning California-based landscape photographer, he travels around the world seeking the perfect light and is represented by the G2 Gallery in Venice CA. His images have been seen by over 100 million people and publications include National Geographic, Microsoft, Sunset Magazine, Popular Photography, PDN, Pictureline, Spaceflight Insider, Sunset, and Backpacker.

What does Matthew Kuhns see in a landscape? What does it take to discover that perfect composition that can become a fantastic photograph? What does it take to be a great landscape photographer? For Matthew a big part of that is a profound understanding of nature and the forces therein. He has a practiced eye, ever improving, that seeks out the magic in each landscape. Whether a saltpan in Death Valley, the grandeur of Half Dome in Yosemite Valley or the calm of a Lake Michigan morning, Matthew has developed the eye and patience necessary in his art.

In this day of innumerable cameras – on our phones, computers, of all sizes and qualities, what makes a photograph stand above the rest? First, it is the composition of the image. Matthew will trek into a location to study its natural scenery and habitats, searching for the viewscape that captures the perfect blend of elements which compose its essence: shapes, colors, contrasts, structure and uniqueness. He may wait for hours or even days, hiking or climbing, wading across rivers and standing in the rain for the perfect lighting or accidental storm. Matthew observes how the light, colors, and shapes change over the course of the day and night. There is the play between the obvious and positive spaces and subtle and negative spaces; the shadows and angles, soft and hard edges, fractal mathematical patterns, and the interplay of biotic and abiotic ecosystems - all coming together into that one perfect photograph.

Enjoying the view and fall colors at first light at North Lake in the Sierras.

Matthew Kuhns is also a practicing aeronautical engineer. This endeavor has helped him better understand the forces of nature and its energies: the movement of wind, the play of light, and the relentlessness of geologic change. He was born in Montana, the Big Sky country, and the wonder of grand spaces has been infused into his nature. His youth and education was in Wisconsin, and jobs have taken him around the United States. He traveled through North America, Europe, Africa and Australia in his younger days, joining his father and sister on safaris and explorations of nature. He began taking snapshots then, early on, and cataloging them in picture books. A natural introvert, Matthew took the time to wait for the photograph. Through this he began developing his intuitive sense of composition and the art in nature.

Matt puts forth the effort to hike with high quality photography equipment in order to bring in full spectrum light to truly capture the sense of place. Our eyes naturally and subconsciously adjust focus and light intensity, so Matthew observes the scene, studies its composition, assesses the delicate balance between detail and generality, and makes choices that will open your eyes to more of what is there than a passing glimpse or snapshot would discover. What makes your head turn to a scene or grab your attention even from afar – that is what Matt finds as subject matter and composition in his art.

Matthew getting lost in the beauty of Iceland.

It is not just about the subject, Matthew has learned, just as many artists and photographers before him have learned: every picture tells a story. He also looks into the scene to find a story to tell; this may not be spoken or written, but interpretable all the more. In Matthew’s photographs is the subtle language of the story - we realize this as our eyes track across and into the photograph – we read his photographs and don’t even know that we’re doing it. Matthew’s photographs are windows into the world all around us. Through his art Matthew invites us into nature and places that we may never have seen, or have become used to, or in some cases are in danger of survival.

Matthew’s photographs have been published in Popular Photo, PDN, Pictureline and elsewhere – where he has also been lauded for his wonderful photographs. His work is regularly displayed at art shows. He is a friend and student of the accomplished photographer Jeff Mitchum, and is humbled to be able to learn from one of the great landscape photographers of our generation.

Most weekends you can find Matthew exploring the mountains, coasts, lowlands and deserts from his southern California home. He is often joined on these hikes by his wife Melissa and their inquisitive golden retriever Quark.

Matthew walking through Golden Canyon in Death Valley during a sunrise shoot. Image by Palmore Clarke

Thanks for reading about Matthew, please continue continue by exploring Matthew's photography gallery.