In Focus: Matthew Butterworth

We’re switching things up here a bit for this month’s In Focus. Our beloved local landscape is still featured, but with some added action and flair. Matt Butterworth‘s mountain biking videos and photos are getting noticed outside the Okanagan, and for good reason — this is top-notch work, showing off some amazing locations and riders. If the riding at Silver Star is half as fun as Matt’s videos makes it look, it must be pretty special:

Silver Star Bike Park Ep. 2 2011 from Matt Butterworth on Vimeo.

A lot people have bought DSLR cameras in the past year or two that can shoot video. Most of us won’t use it much, or use it for shaky, clunky clips of our friends. Matt’s use of his DSLR inspires us to learn to do this stuff properly, and to see how much fun it could be to make great video. Here’s another one, with a nifty, moody vibe:

Through the Fog :: Anthony Evans from Matt Butterworth on Vimeo.

Although it was his videos that caught my eye, I was also impressed by Matt’s still photos. As you can see in the videos, he’s got a great eye for composition and light, integrating the beauty of the landscape into his action shots. It’s not easy to convey intense motion when you’re freezing motion, but he’s nailing it — I love the energy in the photos below. He was also kind enough to answer a few questions about his creative pursuits.

How did you start doing photography in the Okanagan? 

I started out like most people who shoot action sports. Just out having fun with my buddies and taking photos/making videos to document the good times!

Influences or artists/photographers you admire?

A standout few are Sterling Lorence, Dan Barham, Harookz, and Jordan Manley. All bike or ski shooters, most from magazines I’ve been reading since I was young like BIKE or Decline. Film wise I’d have to go with ROAM or more recently Life Cycles.

The quality of your videos is unreal. It’s obviously mostly about skill, but what what gear are you using to shoot and edit video (cameras, lenses, dollies, software, mics, etc)? 

The last year or so I’ve been shooting on my Canon 7D, it’s a great camera for stills and video. It has a variety of lenses spanning from a super wide fisheye to a 200mm telephoto. I’ve got a 1m long slider mounted on my tripod made by a company called Glidetrack, its pretty awesome for dynamic side to side shots.  Since the start I’ve been editing on Final Cut Pro, and lately I’ve been spending a bit of time in Adobe After Effects.

Action photography is probably the dream job of many, and it looks like you’re well on your way to making it a career. Any tips or advice to aspiring photographers who want to shoot sports? 

Do it because you love it. If you want to make loads of cash this isn’t the right genre of shooting for you! But if you love spending your time outside with good friends, shooting what you are passionate about, this is the greatest job in the world.

It seems like the Okanagan hasn’t had the same high-profile reputation in the mountain biking scene as Whistler, Kamloops and the Kootenays. Is this changing? How would you characterize the riding scene here? 

The sport is really growing rapidly in the Okanagan. With the new mountain bike skills park thanks the local bike club MTBCO and  world class lift access riding at Silver Star, the only direction for the riding scene in the Okanagan is up.

What is inspiring you right now? Any short-term or long-term goals for your photography?

Right now my main focus is just making a living doing this stuff! I’m working on a bigger film project which I’m hoping to release this fall or next spring, so keep your eyes peeled, it’s gonna be sick! Since the beginning my big goal is to get a cover shot on a well-established magazine. Mags have always inspired me and kept me pumped up to go out and capture great moments, so I hope one day my work can do the same for some aspiring shooters out there.

More of Matt’s stuff on the web:

In Focus features interesting Okanagan photographers and their work each month(ish). Individual photos are also featured each week on Focus Friday. The author primarily picks stuff from the I Love the Okanagan group on Flickr — if you have suggestions or ideas for photography features, please pass them along to

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