Matthew Pearson


Initially, I enrolled in college with the desire to be a writer. Unbeknownst to me, life and some influential professors had different plans.

From 2014-2019, my life became about fostering community, civic engagement, and public service opportunities. I was engaged at every level of government, from student to municipal, state to federal. I worked for SuperPacs, state legislators, and municipal leaders to share their stories by knocking on doors, writing communications, press releases/statements and policies, and handling the day-to-day paperwork in political bureaucracy. My work at the Obama Foundation taught me how to keep communication and storytelling at the forefront of all my work, regardless of field. As a team, whether for external communication or a mundane memo, we always asked ourselves, “What story are we trying to tell?” In this space, I learned that even administrative work is part of storytelling, which inspired me to pursue a path that would honor my storytelling identity. 

Professionally, I crashed and burned when my personal life fell apart. During my reconstruction, I rediscovered photography. 

I spent most of my life navigating being in the background, happy to support those I believe in as they do their work, and this is how I approach every part of my life, even photography. As an identical twin and the oldest of three boys, I’m used to sharing space and prefer to avoid the spotlight. I’m a dad, and I stepped back from my career to support my daughter’s mom while she pursued her calling to help people who have experienced domestic violence. 

But these days, I’ve realized it’s not that I’m part of the background but instead that I’m an observer. 

I carefully watch my brothers and lend a listening ear when they need help. I see when my daughter is about to stumble off the balance beam and needs a hand. I see my camera as a support tool for the communities around me.

Through my camera lens, I see people who often exist in the margins, whose stories make the fabric of history, and when the light hits them just right, I document that moment. 

As a freelance photojournalist, my work has been published in The New York Times, NPR, Time Magazine, the Guardian, and WABE, among other publications.