I took this photograph the weekend of July 4th while scouting locations for my next film, and thinking about Matt Coleman. It was one of those moments every photographer has while driving, when they see a flash out of the corner of their eye, and they reluctantly pull over and break-out the camera, because, frankly, they have to, not necessarily because they want to. After all, I had a destination.
As most people in Mendocino County know, Matt was murdered near Cape Vizcaino while doing environmental work for the Mendocino Land Trust and Save The Redwoods League.
New details about Matt’s death have recently been released, and they are truly unspeakable. Like with Jason Allen and Lindsay Cutshall, it’s difficult to normalize how such horror can occur in an isolated place of transcendent beauty.
As I worked on this image I began to understand why that flash of light whispered to me (as I whizzed by blaring M83 on my car stereo). In some small way, I understood that the exquisite qualities of the world overwhelmed terror. The flashes were everywhere if we chose to see them.
I didn’t know Matt very well, and had only hung out with him on one occasion at Big River Beach near the city of Mendocino. He introduced me to Art Morley, who has since become a friend, and I wish I could thank him for that.
Matt and Art at Big River Beach
As Matt’s girlfriend said, the world was a better place with him in it. Perhaps now, even more will follow his lead, and look beyond the immediacy of themselves in whatever calling they pursue.
For those that didn’t have the privilege of meeting him, here’s some raw video footage of mine from Big River Beach that day.