Matt Payne Photography | About

I grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado and was lucky to have parents that instilled me with a healthy appreciation for the outdoors. I grew up quite poor, which was actually quite a blessing in disguise, as our family vacations involved going camping in the Colorado mountains almost every weekend during the summer. My father took me along on his pursuit to climb Colorado's highest 100 mountains back in the 1980's and helped me climb my first 14,000 ft. mountain at the age of 6. My parents instilled a very strong sense of ethical appreciation of the wilderness, teaching me leave no trace ethics. I remember every time we would go camping, upon arrival we would clean the campsites we would use, hauling away huge bags of trash and destroying all the extra fire rings that people would create at those sites. On the slopes of Colorado's mountains, my father taught me how to tread lightly to preserve the fragile tundra and ecosystem of our highest places. Fast forward into my middle age and I have climbed all of Colorado's 14,000 ft. peaks (there are 53) and have climbed 96 of the highest 100 mountains in Colorado. You can say that I really love being in the Colorado high country!

Honestly, I'm just an average guy that loves the wilderness and outdoors and hope to instill that same love in others through my photography.

Whenever I can, I head out into our amazing world to take photos. I feel most connected to wilderness and the outdoors; however, I also enjoy exploring urban environments for unique perspectives and powerful imagery. I specialize in landscape photography, especially photos of mountain vistas, nightscapes, sunsets, sunrises and other natural wonders. I love to climb mountains and take photos of those journeys.

I'm obsessed and passionate about landscape photography and astro-landscape photography. There is something about being in the wilderness and underneath a blanket of stars that fills me with wonder and joy. I hope through my images you can also feel wonder and joy and cultivate a greater appreciation of the natural environment and the positive impact it can have on each of us.

I began and refined my craft on the slopes of Colorado's most difficult mountain climbs and have since honed my vision and skills and am working diligently to bring myself to new levels. In 2014 I moved to Portland, Oregon and enjoyed photographing all of the wonders that Oregon has to offer, including waterfalls, rainforests, mountains, lakes and beaches! In late 2015 I moved back to Colorado to reside in the town of Durango at the base of Colorado's most amazing mountains. You can follow my progress and efforts on InstagramFlickr, 500px, Twitter, and Facebook.

Additionally, I am available for portrait photography and event photography, including engagement photos.

All of my photos are available for purchase through this site in a wide variety of formats and mediums. If you do not find what you are looking for, please contact me and I would be glad to take care of your needs.

Lastly, in 2017, I created the podcast, "F-Stop, Collaborate, and Listen." I wanted to create a space to have meaningful conversations with other landscape photographers all over the world.



2009   Mountain Living Studio, Manitou Springs, CO – Selected work on display

2010   Mountain Living Studio, Manitou Springs, CO – Selected work on display

2011   Mountain Living Studio, Manitou Springs, CO – Selected work on display

2013   Colorado In Focus – Business of Art Center, Manitou Springs, CO

2013   John Fielder Art Gallery – Denver, Colorado – Selected work on display

2016   Ultimate Mountain Living - Durango, Colorado - Selected work on display and for sale

2017   Durango Arts Center - "Traditions" International Juried Photography Exhibit

Publications and Media

2011   KRCC - NPR affiliate - article on my photography

2012   Pikes Peak Sports article on my photography and mountaineering

2013   Unfocus Photography Magazine, Cover photo and featured photographer

2013   Colorado Springs Style article on my photography

2013   Colorado Springs Business Journal article on my professional work

2014   Mirror Newspaper article on my night photography

2014   My Modern Met article on my night photography

2014   Coloradoan Newspaper article regarding my research on Colorado mountaineering deaths

2014   Modern Luxury Aspen Magazine, December 2014 -2-page spread and article

2015 Guest Editor, January 2015

2015   Interview with

2017   Podcast Interview on the Traveling Image Makers

2017   Greeley Tribune article regarding my research on Colorado mountaineering deaths

2017   Centerfold article and photography for the San Juan Mountains Journal - Issue 1

2017   Contribution to the B+H Explora Blog on how to photograph fall colors

2017   Centerfold article and photography for the San Juan Mountains Journal - Issue 2

2018   Interview with regarding my podcast and photography

2018   Podcast Interview with Nick Page on The Landscape Photography podcast

2018   Interview with Aperture Academy as Guest Photographer of the Month 

2018   Podcast Interview on F-Stop Collaborate and Listen

2018   Article and photography on the Grenadier Mountains of Colorado for the San Juan Mountains Journal - Issue 3

2018   Podcast Interview on The Candid Frame 


2013   Grand Prize, 2nd place & 3rd place winner - Night Photography -  Colorado Springs Creative Photography Community Contest

2013   Grand Prize winner - Black and White - Colorado Springs Creative Photography Community Contest

2013   1st Place, 2nd Place & Fifth Place winner - Landscape  - Colorado Springs Creative Photography Community Contest

2013   Grand Prize winner - Colorado Springs Parks & Recreation 2014 Calendar

2013   Grand Prize winner – Colby Brown fall color photo contest

2015   Honorable Mention, 2015 International Photo Nightscape Awards

2017   Nominee, 2017 Fine Art Photography Awards - Panoramas


Formatt Hitech Filters - You can use my ambassador code, "PAYNE10" at checkout for a 10% discount on filters and filter kits.

Code of Ethics:

I am a proponent of having a Code of Ethics as a landscape photographer. I adhere to the League of Landscape Photographers’ Code of Ethics


• I inform myself about all rules and regulations relating to photography when visiting a natural area or public attraction.

• I do not knowingly step onto private property without permission even if the property appears abandoned.

• I stay on designated paths and trails. If there is no trail, I follow proper etiquette by educating myself on the principles of Leave No Trace.

• I aim for authenticity by photographing plants and animals in their natural habitat engaging in their normal behaviors.

• I inform myself about the plants and animals I intend to photograph. I avoid photographing them if they exhibit distress signals, and during times of physical strain or breeding seasons. If my presence is causing stress, I leave the area immediately.

• I help to protect the environment by picking up trash I find when in the field.

• I work to improve my photographic skills by using all my tools when making a composition. I do not move objects, pull plants or otherwise ‘tidy’ a scene.

• I refrain from baiting (including sound baiting), or placing attractants to entice wildlife or influence their behavior. Also, I remove all artificial attractants I find in wild places that were placed there by others.

• I keep the natural world safe and intact by not broadcasting the location of a fragile area, plant or animal. 

• I avoid stopping to photograph if it is likely to start a chain reaction resulting in other visitors crowding the area. I find another time or place to continue photographing.


• I treat all people with respect.

• I am patient and courteous with non-photographers visiting a scene. I am creative and can adjust my expectations of the images I planned to make. I am open to new ideas as they present themselves to me.

• I am aware of my position and how it may interfere with the ability of the photographers and non-photographers around me to enjoy a scene.

• If someone wanders into my scene, I am courteous and will wait for them to move. I will consider adjusting my own position, or kindly asking them to move when they are ready.

• If I see someone violating the Code of Ethics, I will consider talking with them about the possible effects of their behavior. I will only do so if I do not perceive any threat to my personal safety. As an alternative, and if their behavior is particularly egregious, I will consider documenting the situation and reporting them to the appropriate authorities.


• I adopt this Code of Ethics and strive to adhere to these important principles.

• I am an ambassador of ethical conduct in the industry through my own behavior and by sharing these principles with other photographers and the public.

• I know and respect my physical limitations and keep myself out of harm’s way by avoiding situations where my health and safety or the health and safety of others could be put at risk by my actions.

• I educate myself about the weather, terrain, culture and potential hazards before visiting a new area.

• If I am leading a photo group, whether commercially or not, I ensure that the group members are informed about the Code of Ethics, potential hazards and other safety concerns, and that the group size is appropriate given the sensitivity of the place we are visiting.

• I am always forthcoming about my post-processing and refrain from representing my photographs as something they are not.