Iguana by Matt Vaughan

When I started this blog, I wanted to bring more voices by featuring other local photographers and interviewing them. Recently,  I had the pleasure to chat with Matt Vaughan of North Carolina, who has been photographing surf, nature and weddings in Nosara for three seasons so far. Below, take a look at his story as a photographer.  The 27 year-old photographer works with Nosara Shack. And you can see more of his work here.

What is the story behind this photo?
It (the iguana) was chilling. It was huge. It was eating. I collected all my compost in the kitchen. I had all this papaya in there. I just started throwing at him.  It was eating them like crazy. So I just started snapping photos while he was eating the papaya.
I am always interested in hearing what brings people to Nosara. So what is your story?

I was on a surf trip. In 2010, I was in Punterenas. I was there for two weeks around Christmas time. And I was talking to all the local gringos, ex patriots about how they lived here. Like how they got here and what they can do for work, what I could come down and do for work. I met this one guy, named Bob on my last day of surfing. He said something to me like. He asked me what I liked doing. We were surfing earlier. I had to leave  to go to the airport at like 9 o’clock.
He asked me like ‘what do you like doing in the States? What do you do for fun?’ Well so I said  ‘I do photography. I love photography. I am in college right now.’ He said man you never know. Next year you might be here shooting pro surfers or something.
So I went home Christmas day. There was like a local website. They had a forum where you could go on and discuss tons of things. There was an ad on there for a surf photographer wanted in Costa Rica. I e-mailed the person who sent me the forum. This is like the day or a day after I got back from my surf trip.
He emailed me back tat night. I just asked him some basic questions. I told him I had a girlfriend and she would be coming down with me.  My girlfriend had just started her final semester of college when we got back. So I threw it out real quick and asked her if maybe she would be down to move to Costa Rica, so that I do photography.  She kinda blew it off. 

It ended up being Graham (Swindell). Graham was the guy who I was talking to. So I kept emailing him. So finally we decided to talk to our parents and her boss. And they were like yeah go for it. So we sold all our stuff, subleased our apartment. She quit college. I think we got back to the States from the surf trip on Christmas day. And we ended up moving here to Nosara on Valentine’s Day. So it’s like two months we had sold all our stuff and kinda just made the transition. Came down here. Had never been here before and jumped right into doing surf photography. We ended up going back after our first season. She finished college and we came back here. 

How did you start photography? 

Actually my uncle gave me a camera when I was 11. It was a canon actually. It was a really sleek camera. I used to get rolls of film from wal-mart. And I would take pictures of anything. I lived on a canal in North Caroline. We had a little dock. I was always fascinated with sunsets and clouds. So I took pictures of that. And I would give my mom four rolls of film. She would take them to wal-mart and get them developed.   

Then I took my first photography class in high school. That was 2001. After that I graduated college with architectural technology degree. That was when the economy in the States went flat and everyone stopped going. Well I was like I could go back to school for photography. So I did that. I was in my studio class when we lived for Costa Rica.
I didn’t know how it was gonna work. My original plan was coming here for like three months. If we do it we will just go for three months. We might not like it but at least we can say that we did it.  So we came down here and fell in love with. And we are still here.
How would you describe your relationship to photography? What does it mean to you?
Me as a person, in life, I never wanna be working a 9 to 5 job. So not only  I enjoy doing the photography but it also allows me to live a certain life style at the same time.  That’s really important to have a lot more freedom. Like for my job as a photographer, I can go surf whenever I want unless I have an appointment. I can kind of work my jobs around my life style more so than my life around my job, which is super important for me.
I do surf photography as a job but I am also doing all these photos I could show them to my kids maybe like 20 years later.  I can be like I was able to do these. Just building up memories.
What is your favorite subject matter to photograph while you are here in Nosara?
I wouldn’t say it is surfing. Because sometimes when it is pumping I wanna be out there. But if there is a really great surfer out there, I love to get some really great surf photos, you know. But probably nature, honestly. My first season down here I got some good monkey photos.  Even since then, there is just so much here that you can document.


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