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Daily Inspiration: Meet Matt Wollner

Today we’d like to introduce you to Matt Wollner.

Matt, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
Growing up, my Dad had a dark room in the basement and I have always been excited about photography. My mom taught technology at a middle school and she brought home Photoshop, for me to start playing with, in the early 1990’s. I was a photographer on my high school yearbook. When I graduated from Georgia Tech in 2001, I got my 1st digital camera and I was able to start digitally editing the photos I was taking. In 2006, I started printing my photos on canvas and began selling them to family and friends.

My 1st Art Show was in 2012 with my friend Greg Schlam, who creates license plate art as Scrap Metal ‘n Such. I have continued to do one art show a year, next to Scrap Metal ‘n Such, in Brookhaven and now at the Dunwoody Art Festival. In 2017, my perspective totally changed. I bought my first drone and discovered amazing views and new photographic opportunities. I was now able to capture images from above as opposed to just standing on the ground.

My full-time job is as an IT consultant, focusing on Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing. Photography is my hobby job and my passion. My drone and multiple cameras travel with me everywhere I go, as I am looking to capture my perspective of the world around me. I sell my prints on canvas, aluminum, and acrylic. My top sellers at my shows are tile coasters that I make by hand. My largest print is a 360 view of Centennial Olympic Park, printed on 40 x 80 Aluminum . I have a few clients that I work with for artistic drone shots, which a standard drone photographer does not capture.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Selling art can be very difficult. In my first shows, I printed many of my scenic travel pictures. While everyone loved looking at them, very few people would buy them. I mostly sold them to family and friends. I had a couple of shows, in the early days, where I didn’t sell anything. When I started doing the Brookhaven Art Show, I decided to focus more on local Atlanta and Georgia photography. The smaller prints started selling and I realized, at these shows, people want smaller, lower-cost items. I started to create coasters and sell them for $10 a piece. They have always been a big hit but I still find it challenging picking and choosing which ones to create. My larger prints, 16 x 20 and above, are still a challenge to sell. Since the printing cost is so high, my price is higher than the average person wants to spend. Most of my large-size prints are custom orders from people I meet at the show, online followers, or referrals from friends.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am an IT consultant who loves to travel. While seeing the world, I try to bring back how I see the sites through photography. My favorite types of shots are of landscapes and the colors at sunset. I hope that seeing my photos allows you to see the diversity of the world as I have seen it.

My photography captures a unique perspective of the landscape around me. Using the drone allows me to capture a 360 degree image and allows me to incorporate a new perspective that cannot be captured at ground level. My Tiny Planets convert a 360 degree image into a “Tiny Planet” view of the surroundings. Since these images capture everything in the field of view, they can be challenging to create. I have to select the right height and the right camera angle. Afterwards, I spend a good bit of time combining the images to achieve the desired perspective.

I am most proud of my large prints that I have sold.

– I have printed a 360 degree view of Centennial Park on 40 x 80 Aluminum.

– My Tiny Planet MBS (Mercedes Benz Stadium), took many hours in Photoshop getting the roof to look correct. I have it printed on 30 x 30 Aluminum.

– During the Full Solar Eclipse of 2017, I took a series of shots. Afterwards, I composed a time-lapse of the eclipse. I have sold over 20 of these prints.

– I also have a few photos that I edited in Photoshop to make them look like paintings. I then printed them on canvas and added brush strokes to give it a full painted look.

We’d love to hear about how you think about risk taking.
My biggest risk is printing my images. It can cost a lot to print on a large scale. Before every show, I need to print inventory so I need to predict what is going to sell.

Every time I fly my drone, I risk it crashing. I have my FAA part 107 Drone Pilot’s license and I have logged over 500 flights. I feel confident when I fly, and I avoid risky flight behavior.

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