Yoga and...beer? It's actually genius.

Yoga was new to me. I mean, I've heard of it of course - there's the sweaty version and then the unholy extra sweaty version. It turns out this was the less sweaty one and I think any reasonable person would consider that to be the superior selection in any scenario. 

The event was hosted by Strala Seattle and sponsored by Coors Peak and Seattle Magazine. Everyone was super excited to be there not only for the yoga session but for the cold beer at the end of the stick. I could never hoist my giant meat slabs (ie: my feet) into the air without several laws of gravity being broken, so I just stuck to what I know - photography.  

Everyone hung out afterwards for happy hour while knocking back cold ones, mingling, and munching on Chaco Canyon Cafe apricot sesame bars.  Nom!

If you're in the photos, feel free to share on social media and tag MattoPhoto Photography! 

Peace, tranquility, and beer. 

10 Q's with Lombardi's

I've worked with Lombardi's on numerous occasions and every time I visit they treat me and the fam like we're Corleone's. They greet us all warmly with hugs and we catch them up on the latest episodes of Sesame Street. Pre-kids I couldn't have cared less about a restaurant welcoming me like Norm on Cheers - I was just there to drink my cocktail and don't care if you remember my name when I come back tomorrow, thank you very much. This is the same reason I avoid going into the bank vs. doing my transactions exclusively through the ATM in order to avoid the stale list of small talk questions while I wait. Does this make me crotchety? Dawnielle says yes. Fatherhood has since shifted my worldview in that it feels so good watching the staff love on our boys as if they were their own each time we visit, whether it's for business or pleasure. But fatherhood hasn't completely shifted my view that dramatically, I will still have that tequila shot, k thanks.  

 

Onto the main event: 10 questions - coming in hot!  

1. Dawnielle visited Italy once and is obviously now an expert on the romance languages. She gains a great amount of pleasure from correcting every hick American she encounters that Bruschetta is pronounced bru-SKEH-tuh and not bru-shetta. My first question is, don't you just hate people like that?

Always remember Italians are lovers not haters, and there is a reason that Italians speak romance.  Your wife is not only a language expert she is a brilliant language expert.  In Italy, Bruschetta is indeed pronounced bru-SKEH-tuh.  It’s a “sch” thing.  Just like the word school.  As our Executive Chef Matthew Romeo always says, “You send your children to s-KU-l….not shool”.

2. You serve a Mahi-Mahi Ligurian, which sounds amazing. When I used to work at Red Lobster I was forced to learn that Mahi-Mahi means "strong strong" in Hawaiian. Who do you think would win in a fight - Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson or a normal sized Brawny Paper Towel Guy?

Ahhhhh…the amazing Mahi Mahi Ligurian.  Our secret? Imported premium olive oil from Liguria, the craggy and beautiful coastal region of Northwest Italy. Delicate in texture & intensity, and sometimes with a buttery taste, Ligurian olive oil is an excellent accompaniment to seafood. You can find The Brawny Paper Towel Guy enjoying his “strong strong” Mahi at Red Lobster after his defeat, while The Rock will be celebrating his victory at Lombardi’s with the amazing taste sensation of our grilled Mahi filet with a light concasse topping, spring risotto, and fresh vegetables.  Dinner of champions baby.

3. Do you require your staff to watch The Sopranos as a condition of employment? 

Fuhgettaboutit.  “Can I just get some macaroni & gravy”?

4. I personally get what may perhaps be a little too excited when I think about your calamari. Would you be open to my suggestion of changing the menu and referring to them as THE KRAKEN from now on?

That would be a resounding NO. We are happy to report that our calamari is delicious, no longer alive, and evokes emotions of pleasure not fear. But feel free to continue your calamari excitement…or your KRAKEN fantasies.

5. One of your most popular menu items are your arancini (golden risotto balls) and I'm not 100% on this - but I'm pretty sure the Bible mentions people worshipping golden risotto balls at some point. Not a question for this one, just a little history talk. 

History ain’t got nothing on arancini.  It’s hard to improve upon a dish as perfect as risotto, which is the best thing that could ever happen to rice. It’s creamy and savory and wonderful in every way. When you turn risotto into arancini, you’re on to something magical because all the greatness of risotto is stuffed, balled, breaded and deep-fried. Cheese is also involved. It doesn’t get much better than that.

6.  Your Everett location has a pretty sweet patio to eat out on with an amazing view of the water. This is a two part question: 1. Have you ever seen any allegedly prehistoric creatures swimming in the marina? 2. If yes, would you be opposed to grilling it with some lemon and dill over a nice linguini and serving it as a lunch special?

Admittedly, and thankfully, we have never witnessed any prehistoric creatures swimming in the marina.  BUT we have adopted two very special friends.  Charlotte and Henry are our seal friends, our Dogs of the Sea. And NO. There will be no lemon sauce with dill, or any other special that feature our friends.  Case closed.

7. Knowing that you're not "technically" a doctor, do you think it's fair to say that if you have a Mango Tango and a Pear-adise martini from the bar menu that you've then satisfied your daily intake of fruit?

Sometimes you find your doctor in the most unusual places.  YES of course on the daily fruit intake with our Mango Tango!  Delicious and beautiful.  In addition, there’s something to be said about one’s daily citrus intake.  Can you say Lemon Drop?  And how about drinking in that dose of vitamin D in the sunshine of our patio?  Move over Dr. McDreamy.

8. Lombardi's was named after Lombardy (a region in Northern Italy) as well as the grandfather of your first chef who was nicknamed "Papa Lombardi". Was the name Papa Lombardi given to him because Chef Boyardee was already taken?

For the record, Papa Lombardi was cooking and creating way before Chef Boyardee ever entered the culinary scene.  And note to self….has anyone ever met Chef Boyardee or know where he lives?

9. Lombardi’s Executive Chef Matt Romeo refers to his kitchen at home as his "test kitchen". Are you secretly glad that his Buffalo Spam Ravioli never saw the light of day?

Actually, everything that Chef Matt makes is REALLY good!  No secrets.  Just ask Chef!

10. Mario Batali's crocs. Yea or nea?

His crocs?  Yea.  They are a chef’s staple.  But his shorts?  No way.  A big nea.

 

 

Studio Portrait: Klara

She's a natural, obvi. 

Klara's grandma, Mary, reached out to me about shooting a headshot session for Klara so that she could audition for musicals. As I'm typing this, I'm realizing I probably missed an opportunity not singing a killer duet from Fiddler on the Roof with Klara - I've always felt I was a Tevye. Or maybe it's just the facial hair. I feel like the first image [below] is her theoretical reaction to my use of the phrase, "L'chaim!".

I recently realized that my studio is a foot longer on one side (thanks math!), so I rearranged everything to give myself a bit more room. Now I have a really great exposed white wall to shoot on as a backdrop! For this shoot I also decided to try a new technique and shot Klara as she stood in front of my softbox (light) which is why in a couple shots - like the first one - it's that stark, crisp, white background. I love it. 

Mini Sessions are Definitely a Thing

Last month I decided to give mini-sessions a whirl for the first time...and they were a huge success! For a trial run, it surprised me how many people were interested and reached out. A lot of photographers in the area offer mini-sessions only a couple times a year (once in the spring, once in the fall). Since I've never been the lemming type, I've decided to run from the cliff and offer mini-sessions ONCE A MONTH! *confetti*

How exciting! This will be an awesome opportunity for me to go outside my comfort zone and try out a new location each month. I'm thinking about maybe having my followers vote on what the next mini-session location should be. Is that something you'd be interested in or do you have a kick-ass location that you'd like to suggest? Let me know about it in the comments! 

Dawnielle (in her infinite wisdom, just ask her) suggested that I check out Volunteer Park in Seattle; I did and I think it's perfect for the February mini-session. Here's some photos I snapped while there in order to whet your appetite. 

 

I've decided I'm going to do the February mini session on Valentine's Day. It's weird, right? Maybe. Follow my train of thought: It'll be in the late morning/early afternoon for those of you who traditionally go out for dinner to celebrate. You'll already be gussied up and ready to hit the town and be all in love. For those of you who's idea of Valentine's day involves binge-watching the first three seasons of The Walking Dead on Netflix while curled up next to your honey, then you can start a new tradition this year - with me! I know. Just the thought of it sets your heart aflutter.

You on board? Cool! Each 30 minute mini-session is only $75! Remember that returning client's get a discount! Email me and let's reserve you a spot to the most romantic, way-better-than-Netflix mini-session ever.     

New year, new studio, new website, new beard?

The studio is now firing on all cylinders, the website is all abuzz with zeros and ones, and I've got a lot of exciting plans for MattoPhoto in 2016! Here's a few things I've got in the hopper:

  • Making a special mini-session available once a month (!!)
  • Each mini-session will have a new location that I've never shot at before
  • Setting up the referral program by offering 10% off future photo sessions for each referral. This particular marketing campaign makes Dawnielle's Jew senses tingle (actual Jew, calm down). 
  • Equipment! I'm looking into adding some new studio equipment and lights, as well as the endless search for new lenses that I can bring into the collective (We Are The Borg)

Once I mull it over, I'll write a post so everyone can see exactly how the mini-sessions would work. I'm totally 100% open to any suggestions of any awesome locations you might know of - just shoot me an email and I'll check it out! I plan on writing a blog post about what equipment I use and a peek into my home studio for my more curious/nosy followers and clients. 

Lastly, the beard. November is the time of year when people cringe to hear that their significant other is growing a dreaded Novembeard. It's also the time of year when men decide that this is it, this is the year, and they have 30 days to get their Grizzly Adams on - their job in upper-management be damned. For years I've had a neatly trimmed beard or what my father refers to as, "kinda like facial hair". I've never had the opportunity (or courage) to go into full lumberjack mode. This year I dipped my toe into the deep end of the beard pool. That didn't come out quite as I intended, but you get the idea. I plan on keeping the beard healthy, robust, and vigorous in 2016, or at least until Dawnielle throws up the white flag. 

At some point I probably should have had a voice go off in my head that said, "You're maybe taking way too many photos of yourself...with your beard...alone in your studio. Then I began my subtle crossing of the threshold from 'photographer' to 'raging narcissist'." And yet, that didn't stop me. 

(CLICK ON THE SLIDESHOW'S RIGHT SIDE TO SEE TO NEXT PHOTO)



Mustard and Co.

Inaugural blog on the new fresh and crispy website! Here's the lowdown with what you can expect in here. I've decided that it would be fun to do occasional interviews with local businesses as a regular part of my blog. Ten interview questions, a little nice-to-meet-you with the owners, and a few photos from my visit with them. In addition to that, I plan on writing blog posts like a peek behind the scenes at my shoots, what to expect at a family session, or amuse you with hilarious stories about how my toddler dropped my 50mm macro lens in the toilet. Theoretically. He hasn't done that - yet.    

So. Let the games begin. Who's the lucky business that gets the first interview? The dudes over at Mustard and Co., that's who! By dudes I mean Justin and Bryan who work together to create the amazing ambrosia known as...mustard! I swung by their base of operations in Seattle's Georgetown and they kindly gave me a tour of their facility where the magic happens. It's always so cool to talk to people who are passionate about that they do - and that's these guys. They walked me through the entire process as we discussed ingredients, distribution, and process. I had a million questions. Here's one knowledge nugget they laid upon me: they hand-grind all their mustard seed! The grinder gave the room such a cool vibe. [images below] They were gracious enough to give me samples of their entire product line. Once I cracked open the lid of their Garlic Dill mustard and crammed a pretzel in, I had never felt more alive than I did at that moment. Well, until I actually took a bite and then I felt like this was one of the best decisions of my life. You gotta try it, guys - it's crazy good.   

 Justin on the left and Bryan on the right

Justin on the left and Bryan on the right

Check these guys out and support local business owners! We can all strive to step up our mustard game for the next holiday party. Yes Janine, I'm talking to you. 

Here are a few additional questions that I emailed to Bryan. 

1. Would you be in support of a global re­naming of "Mustard Gas" to the more appropriate "Sauerkraut Gas" ­ since nobody in their right mind likes sauerkraut?

WHAT!? I love sauerkraut :)

2. Do you think people who dip pretzels into mustard at parties are simply being overly polite and should instead just stick their entire fist in and go to town?

I think you’re onto something. I’ll give it a shot next time I have the opportunity and report back.

3. Does it drive you nuts that ketchup is always trying to share your limelight?

The way I see it, ketchup just makes us look good. To be fair, there are some quality ketchups out there, say a curry ketchup or a heirloom ketchup, but for the most part, ketchup allows mustard to shine!

4. How many mortar and pestles do you personally own?

Just one, yet I wouldn’t be opposed to owning more. I’m a big fan of simply engineered tools and designs, and if the mortar and pestle isn’t that, than I’m not sure what is. And they’re beautiful.

5. In Matthew 13:31–32 Jesus said, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field; which indeed is smaller than all seeds. But when it is grown, it is greater than the herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in its branches." My question is, do you think Jesus would prefer your Honey Curry or Black Truffle mustard more?

I’m guessing he’d would take the two, stir them together, and make a miracle mustard. Maybe that’ll be our next variety?

6. You have your own manufacturing process that ensures the mustard seed is never subjected to heat ­in order to preserve it's spicy oils. Would you ever consider bringing on Marvel's Ghost Rider as an employee if he had good references from his previous employers?

I’ll be honest, I had to do my research to answer this question ­my pop culture knowledge is quite limited.
To answer the question, most definitely... as our PR spokesperson.

[note: Just Google 'Ghost Rider' - I'd post an image of him, but I don't need a copyright lawsuit on my plate.]

7. Follow up question: What about Nicholas Cage, even if he had spotty references from previous employers?

Again, certainly. He would be our celebrity chef, ­he’s a famous cook, right? ;)

8. What is one of your favorite non-Guy Fiery recipes that incorporates your mustard as an ingredient?

I’d have to say using our Honey Curry mustard on grilled or baked salmon. The flavors come together exceptionally well and it’s quintessential Northwest fare.

9. You use organic, premium, extra ­virgin olive oil in your mustards. On a scale of 1-­10 (with ten being the most) how much does it annoy you that Rachel Ray calls it EVOO?

Yea that doesn’t really flow of the tongue. I imagine Pee­wee Herman saying that.

10. Why mustard?

Justin first dabbled in mustard years and years ago. Picture it: Wisconsin. Small town Justin finds himself staring at the lengthy list of ingredients on a bottle of fancy shmancy honey mustard. Perplexed at why a seemingly simple sauce would require so many additives, he ran home, did some research and whipped up his first batch. Over the next handful of years Justin took to making mustard as more of a hobby, testing it out on friends and family until he packed up and moved to Seattle. Enter: Bryan. The two start working together at Molly's. Fresh out of college and intrigued by Justin's mustard making talents, Bryan suggests turning Justin's hobby into a small business. With support from Molly's ­ offering after hours kitchen space ­Mustard and Co. was born in 2013. Now, a couple of years later, what started out as a two man operation has quickly evolved into a 3 person powerhouse in the world of small batch accoutrements. That’s the long story. The short story is that mustard, in our opinion, is the most interesting condiment we use in modern day. The vast number of varieties and nuances you can add to mustard make it the most interesting to us.