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Explorer Spotlight: Stephen Matera

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Name: Stephen Matera | Age: 46 | Location: Seattle, WA.

What’s your day job?
Professional Outdoor Sports and Lifestyle Photographer

What are your favorite things to do outside?
Take photos of course! Explore the mountains and deserts of the Pacific Northwest, and yes, there are some pretty awesome deserts as well. I hike, climb, ski, and mountain bike as much as I can.

What first drew you to the outdoors?
I grew up skiing on the east coast (if you can call it that!) and that was my draw into the outdoors. A ski trip to Colorado in college hooked me on the mountain west. I moved out to the Northwest straight out of college, and there was no looking back.

What’s your favorite hometown adventure? ...and, almost as important, where’s your favorite spot to get a beer after?
Hard to pick one, but I’d say backpacking in the North Cascades. There is so much to explore up there it’s mind boggling. I’ve been exploring the North Cascades for 20 years and feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. Best spot for a beer after is Grahams in Glacier on the North Cascades Highway. Great grub as well.

What’s your essential gear that never gets left at home?
Tripod. It’s the original selfie stick!

What’s your favorite trail snack?
I’m all about going light these days. I find a good ratio of weight to energy is bagels and pepperoni. I’ve gone many miles on that combination.

Any go-to soundtracks when you’re hitting the road?
Without a doubt, Thievery Corporation.

What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened while you were adventuring? And/or, the funniest?
The funniest for sure is one time years ago I was shooting in Mt. Rainier National Park. I had stopped to shoot on a steep alpine slope and put my pack down. I was about 10 feet away when it started to tumble downhill (closed thankfully!). It rolled about 300’ downhill and stopped when it hit the only tree on the hill. I hiked down, got it. Amazingly no damage. Hiked back up where a guy who witnessed it all happen asked me with a straight face, “did you do that on purpose?”

Who’s your number one adventure partner-in-crime? Who inspires you?
I have a good friend, Chris Solomon, who’s a freelance outdoor and travel writer. He and I do a lot together, both professional and just getting outside. But he’s one of the hardest working, most creative people I know. He’s an amazing writer and I get creative inspiration from him all the time.

What are your top destinations for adventure travel?
I would say my favorite places to travel for adventure are Alaska and New Zealand. I’ve been to Alaska maybe 10 times in the past 20 years and New Zealand only once. But I am aching to get back to NZ. It’s just beautiful everywhere you go.

What’s on the top of your must-do adventure list right now?
As much as I travel, I’ve never made it to the Himalayas, or the Alps. Those two places are on the top of my list.

Show us your most memorable photo, and tell us about it!
It’s difficult to separate my personal favorite images from what might be considered my best or most inspiring image. They are intertwined. But just a couple of weeks ago, I did an overnight backpack trip in the North Cascades on the North Side of Mt. Baker. Besides being one of my favorite places in the world, we had the most insane light that I’ve ever seen at sunset that evening. We were camped between a couple of glaciers at about 6,000’ on a ridge. As the sun was setting, a light fog began rolling off the glacier and over the ridge. I’ve never witnessed anything like it. It lasted for about a half an hour and we shot like crazy as it kept changing over that time. I’m still in awe of that moment.

And last but not least…What’s your personal motto?
Get it right in camera. Don’t use Photoshop as a crutch for poor photo skills.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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