Steamboat Springs landscapes featured in best-selling photo book
December 26, 2012
Steamboat Springs — Sometimes a wrong turn leads to the right place — the right landscape, the right lighting and the right moment in which to portray grace and joy.
A wrong turn on a sunny day in April led New York City photographer Jordan Matter to a Yampa Valley ranch and, more importantly, a mailbox.
The photograph that resulted from the shoot — and was featured in The New York Times best-selling photograph book "Dancers Among Us" — features Colorado Springs ballet dancer Rhiona O'Loughlin settled on top of the mailbox, blissfully posed as she reads a letter.
"It was always the same process; it was a very fluid, a very serendipitous thing," said Matter in an interview with Explore Steamboat on Wednesday about the way the photograph came about.
He also shot photos in Denver, Greeley and Aspen, but Steamboat Springs was where he found what he had been looking for all along.
"I felt it was very important to get the landscape of Colorado in the book," he said. "And I'm familiar with (Steamboat) because I've been going there every year. I was very aware of how beautiful it could be. I wanted to capture the beauty of it, but the quirkiness of it, too.”
"Dancers Among Us" was a three-year journey across the United States where he photographed dancers leaping though fountains and across beaches and posing in unlikely surroundings like construction sites, jail cells and even a slaughterhouse.
But through it all, Matter aimed to capture sheer joy and an unexpected exuberance in everyday moments.
The book features three other photographs taken in Steamboat Springs, which Matter has visited as a vacation destination for more than a decade. They were all taken on the same day in April.
One photo depicts two dancers in front of the More Barn, another has a woman posed in a river and the fourth Matter said is one of his favorites in the book.
In it, Colorado Springs dancer Victor Lipscomb leaps almost comically high across the Space Station parking lot with a gas can in his hand.
"It's not Photoshopped; it's not digitally altered," he said about the poses in the book. "If it looks like they're doing something, they're really doing it. The way they did it was with no fear, and they did it with a joy and ease of expression."
The book was released two months ago and has been on The New York Times best-seller list for six weeks. It was named one of Oprah's favorite reads of 2012, a Barnes and Noble best book of 2012 and received national news coverage. But fame or not, Matter said he plans to continue to return every year to Steamboat Springs, where his son, Hudson, is learning to ski. And it was the child's love of play and his distinct immersion in the moment that inspired the book in the first place.
To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com