Matthew Parker is a photographer with a distinctive point of view, and an incredibly unusual technique for sharing that point of view. He makes photographic collages, but don’t let the word “collage” let you think of chopped up, scattered, and randomly pasted-together images. Matthew’s photographic collages take the same time, planning, and critical decision making that any master painting would take.
Each collage starts out as a sketch. As a trained architect, Matthew is drawn to objects in the built environment, and how structures interact with their space. After sketching out how he would like his subject to appear, the camera comes out. Instead of chopping up photographs to create the individual collage elements, each piece is actually a single, complete, unaltered photograph, which was deliberately framed and angled to follow the lines of Matthew’s original sketch.
In addition to viewing his subjects through multiple angles, Matthew’s collages also add an element of time. The collages are made up of multiple photographs – more than thirty, sometimes approaching one hundred separate images – but they also span multiple time periods. Sometimes the photographs are taken over the course of a single day, or a time span of several hours. Some of the collages include images from several different months or years – all taken from the same spot, and all of the same subject.
Adding the element of time allows Matthew to portray how moods and atmosphere change over the time of day, or seasons of the year. The variations in the images allow the viewer to experience the subject in a way that a single photograph (or even a real-life visit) never could. Matthew’s collages are a totally unique way to understand and experience a subject.
Because of his background in architecture, Matthew is very drawn to the abundance of beautiful buildings in Washington DC. But one of his favorite subjects is the cherry blossoms, because the look of the blossoms change so dramatically in different light. Additionally, images of crowds are another favorite subject. People are never static, and multiple images layered on top of each other really help the viewer to feel like they are actually part of the crowd.
Matthew’s customers also love images of the cherry blossoms, probably for the same reasons he does, but also because they are such an iconic symbol of Washington, DC. If you see one you like, you need to act fast, because all the prints are limited edition, and won’t be available forever. New collages are always being planned, but there is no set schedule on when new ones will be introduced. After all, it could take years to capture all the necessary images!
Matthew is currently working on a collage of the tidal basin that has already been three years in the making. It’s not hard to imagine the difficulty of capturing the cherry blossoms during their notoriously short lifespan, and finding and maintaining the exact spot in the tidal basin days, months or years apart!
There are plenty of amazing collages in his current collection, depicting beautiful scenes of Washington DC as well as other cities. He’s even open to suggestions for new collages. If you have an idea, drop him a line and let him know!
You can see all of Matthew’s work at his online gallery, as well as purchase prints in various sizes from his online store, or from the National Building Museum shop. Also, you can visit Matthew’s web site to find him at fine art and craft shows in the DC area.