What’s up, party people?! My name is Ben Matthews and I am currently a freelance photographer based in the American West. However, I’d like to tell you how I got my start as a photographer and how the Ozarks have inspired me throughout my life.
I am originally from the small town of Ozark, Missouri, where I grew up and graduated high school. After high school, I attended the University of Arkansas and graduated this past May with a degree in Biological Engineering (Yikes…). Throughout my life I have had a strong connection to the outdoors, whether it was through going out to a cabin in the woods with my dad as a kid, fly fishing on the Norfork River with friends, or going on a mountaineering trip in the mountains of Wyoming. I simply love being outdoors.
While I was in college, my love of the outdoors deepened via friendships I made through rock climbing, backpacking, etc., which were extra easy to come by in Fayetteville. About halfway through my freshman year at the U of A, I heard a funny word called, “Fayettechill.” I had to know more. I researched the name and instantly found that they were a brand that fit right in line with my lifestyle and love for the Ozarks.
Eventually I decided I should probably start documenting my friends and I doing the things that we loved in the outdoors, so I took up photography around the beginning of 2014. I originally started shooting 35mm film because my brother gave me an old thrift-store find. Film is beautiful, but that’s a whole other story. Eventually I invested in a digital camera and began shooting photos around the Ozarks and in some other areas of this beautiful country. In the summer of 2014, I began a trial as a Fayettechill photographer. Since then I've had the opportunity to experience new places, new people, and just have a really great time when we were out “working.”
After I graduated from college, I realized that a transition phase was coming. I had always loved the Ozarks, as well as the people that live in the region, but I knew that there were bigger mountains out there that were calling my name. I did some traveling last summer, going from the east to the west and back again. Finally I realized that the West is where I belonged, and when I got a “real” job offer out of Wyoming, I took it without hesitation. Some days I miss the Ozarks, the changing colors of the deciduous trees in the fall, the warm summer days spent on the Buffalo River, and the crazy, ever-changing weather in the winter, but I know now that the West is presently where I belong.
Check out some more photos from my time in the Ozarks, the West, and everywhere in between below.