Introducing Our Featured Artist for 3.2: James Mattson

Posted by Britina Cheng, GD Art Curator & Fiction Reader for 3.2

In our upcoming issue of Gandy Dancer, we are proud to introduce James Mattson, junior biology pre-med major at SUNY Geneseo, as our featured artist. His photography captivated the art editors. One, “Bridge to Fall” will grace the cover of our Spring issue, fitting with its bright and welcoming colors. He appropriates color differently in each of his photographs. “Bridge to Fall” emanates an Alice in Wonderland playful and curious tone. “Glow” a gentle photograph of a dock, has a deep everlasting glow that contrasts the bright lights of a city on the right. In contrast, the lack of color in “Nevermore” supports the ominous presence of a lone raven and silhouetted tree branches. Here, Mattson answers questions about his interest in photography and some of his influences.



Britina Cheng: How did you get interested in photography?

James Mattson: I became interested in photography in my senior year of high school. I had a point and shoot camera that I got for Christmas and used it whenever I had free time. I would go to local parks by my house and take photos of still objects and then venture out and try to get photos of moving things. I became good at it and my parents noticed so the following Christmas they bought me a better camera, one with a manual mode. I taught myself about all the features of the camera, what each of the settings meant, and through the usage of my camera I quickly became acquainted with the principles of photography. Since then, I’ve started my own small business with a website and business cards and have done family portraits, holiday photo shoots, and even a wedding. It’s amazing how much I’ve learned about myself, other people, and business all through the lens of my camera.

BC: Do you have any specific influences in your photographs?

JM: I used to follow Humans of New York a lot, because my favorite kind of photography is portraits, however, the photos were more geared toward photojournalism; I like drama. My sister bought me a book called “50 Portraits,” by Gregory Heisler. This particular photographer is known for his extraordinary portraiture. He’s worked with celebrities, famous athletes, and presidents. I admire his work greatly because he captures the essence of humanity. His portraits have a depth to them and he molds the light around his subjects masterfully. His work is a great influence on me.

BC: We were captivated by your work, and I think the color in a number of your pieces was very alluring for us– do you have a specific style or aesthetic that you strive toward?

JM: Recently I’ve been playing around with color techniques. My usual way of approaching landscape photos is to represent the world around us as accurately as possibly. However, lately I’ve turned away from that. Photography, like other art forms is an outlet for self-expression. I look at a landscape in real life and before I put my eye on the eyepiece, I envision what could be. In my “Bridge to Fall” photo, I saw a bridge and some green foliage in reality, however, in my mind I saw Fall colors. Yellows and reds and oranges, but also blues, purples and all sorts of colors. When I take a photo, I always think about what is and what could be. Sometimes the changes I make are an exaggeration of what is already present. Other times, I take a complete departure from reality and its cool.

BC: Are there any other mediums you’re interested in?

JM: I’m mostly interested in portraiture and landscapes, however, I never turn down an opportunity to try something new. As far as other artistic mediums in general, I enjoy music; I play all the saxophones, B flat clarinet and contralto clarinet.

BC: Are you currently working on any projects?

JM: Right now I am currently finishing up a wedding I did a few months ago. As a student, it takes me longer to complete projects. I hope this summer to start some portraiture projects, save up money and invest in more post-processing software. I recently bought a new camera so I am excited to start using it. Currently, I am invested in my campus photography club and as president I am trying to expand our audience and bring some quality experiences to our group.

His photograph, Ascension, appeared in Gandy Dancer’s previous issue, so he is no stranger to our SUNY wide publication. Mattson’s photographs in our forthcoming issue further illuminate his impressive talent. Gandy Dancer is excited to feature Mattson in this Spring issue.

James Mattson is a junior biology major and aspiring physician. During his free time, he enjoys cooking, managing the new SUNY Geneseo photography club, and, of course, photography. He is a self-taught photographer and primarily enjoys portraiture. Photography allows him a creative outlet for experience, growth, and expression and has been an integral part in his realization as a person.

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