Windfarm at Tehachapi
So who is this Laurence Matson guy? More about that in a bit, but he’s been one of the kindest, most generous, passionate, and interesting people that I’ve had the pleasure of crossing paths with in my life. Laurence was working in his barn in Vermont (apparently on an elevated area) when he suffered a fall due to a heart arrhythmia. He broke a wooden pallet with the back of his head, landing face first on a concrete floor. Now those who know him would understand that he does have a hard head—but not that hard. He sustained 21 fractures to the skull, collarbone, shoulder blade, ribs, and pelvis; as well as a 14 in wound to the head, severe concussion and hemorrhage that has damaged the language and imaging centers of the brain. Seeing that Laurence was a translator and photographer before this accident, one can understand that this has been a particularly devastating injury.
I refer everyone to a Indiegogo funding site that has details, as well as a fund set up to help Laurence recover, sell the farm (he’ll be unable to take care of it), and deal with remaining medical expenses. Please help with what you can…
So, how did I cross paths with Laurence? A long time ago, after the Sigma SD9 digital SLR had been released, I was browsing online digital photographs—and I was very much taken with the quality of Laurence’s photos. They had a purity and luminance that reminded me of better film work than what was being done with digital in the day. We started a conversation up via email—Laurence lived in Switzerland, while I was living in SE Wisconsin. Laurence was very generous with sharing experiences (good and bad), and as we shared details of our lives, we found out that we had much in common. I grew up in Rochester and was a Kodak kid—Laurence has spent time in Rochester and was very familiar with the area. I was working for Abbott Labs—Laurence had grown up as an Abbott kid, and his father had founded what became the diagnostics division of the company. His homestead was only a few miles from where I worked. Laurence bred, raised and showed dogs—my wife and daughter did the same. There were interesting symmetries in our paths. With much help from Laurence, I ended up purchasing an SD10 from Sigma—and started rediscovering my love for photography.
While Laurence and I have corresponded off and on for a decade, give or take; we’ve only met a few times in person. The first was in 2007—Laurence led a planning effort for a photo trip that corresponded with the PMA meeting in Las Vegas in March. Some of us flew in from various parts of the globe to meet in San Francisco. There we met up with some of the Foveon luminaries (Dick Merrill and his wife Seng, Dick Lyon). We visited Foveon, Google, and an excellent restaurant or two before collecting our gear and heading for a trip to Death Valley, to meet up with yet more Sigma shooters. This was a thrill for me—getting to meet smart, generous, passionate photographers (all who raised the bar for me…) and having a great time getting to know a bunch of new people. Our trip ended at PMA where we met and conversed with the Sigma staff at the show, helped to set up the ‘user gallery’ of photographs (which Laurence had arranged and printed); it was a phenomenal trip, and I have so many great memories.
We met a couple times after that. Once in Vermont for a much more solemn occasion (the memorial service for Dick Merrill), and back in Vegas in 2011 for a brief time before Rick Decker, Kendall Gelner and I headed for a 10-day trip to Arizona and Utah.
Laurence has been so generous with the photographic community in general, and the Sigma contingent in particular—I hope that all you who read this will run over and donate to his recovery fund. What follows are a selection of shots that I have of Laurence from the 2007 trip.
Zabriskie Point Sunrise
On the Road—Death Valley
Salt Creek Marsh—Death Valley
Mosaic Canyon—Death Valley
Road To Vegas