- What does visual peacemaking mean to you?
What you look for, or see, in the world is what you photograph. I see hope, beauty, dignity, our commonalities, struggles that are meaningful, brokenness that can be healed, differences that can be reconciled, locations with true character, and I see a piece of the Creator in every person.
This vision of humanity, when captured in images, can be shared with the world. When shared these images can connect and communicate with viewers who will in turn reflect on what they see and look for in the “other”. If a new understanding is attained or new appreciation realized, then visual peacemaking has just occurred.
- What motivates you to be a peacemaker?
Being the president of IGVP, I want to clearly preface my answer because it is personal to me, not IGVP as a whole. IGVP is not a one-man-show, it’s a community, and it’s open to persons of any faith background. This question was included by the founders because we want each person to explore deeply “why” they do what they do and why they are a visual peacemaker. I sincerely look forward to a diverse array of personal motivations. Now, for me personally…
In the final two chapters of scripture there is a picture of “the end,” which is really a new era: it’s all ethnicities and nations bringing their best into a new creation. They’re celebrating God and one another’s diversity—nor more injustice, no more brokenness, simply perfect unity amidst diversity. I’m just trying to ignite a similar party now.
I believe God’s design for humanity is perfect, that he can and is healing us, and will restore all things. I want my personal and professional life to be a signpost that points toward that total beauty and wholeness by practically living to that end—without having unrealistic expectations that I, or anyone, can do this 100% of the time. Nor do I believe we can accomplish total wholeness without final help from the Creator himself. I’m motivated to get involved with him now on this project of realizing total beauty, peace, reconciliation, redemption, and restoration.
- Have you ever felt stereotyped?
Of course. It’s human nature to categorize and generalize. It’s part of how we survive. But it also works against us when our generalizations are applied with broad sweeps. In school I was typed as this or that: musician, skater, partier, troublemaker, etc. I was all those things but also a studious student—surprise! In business, I’ve been typed as “a creative”, which can work for you or against you.
Living in Turkey, I get all kinds of boxes I’m supposed to “fit into.” If I’m religious, then I must be a zealot out to pay people for conversations to follow the Pope. If I have a beer, then I must be like the other tourists who come here and buy prostitutes and cheat. I roll with it and just make friends when I can. A lot of people here do not type me like this, and these examples are extreme caricatures.
- How does your camera get you to reflect on your world and your life?
The camera takes me out into the world to places I wouldn’t otherwise go, perhaps. I ask the question, “why,” a lot. This helps me reflect on why I am framing this way or that way, or why I pressed the shutter at that particular moment. Why? What’s drawing me in? This can reveal things about yourself, your disposition, attitude, values, and more.
- What do you like to photograph best?
People in their environments, their world. Emotion in “a single look.” Gestures that communicate something universally human, or ones that capture something particular to a culture. Above all, I like images that create a mood or that tell some story within the frame—images that have some suspense, irony, mystery, or tension in them. I like to make & view photographs that get me thinking about our shared humanity in all it’s wonder, playfulness, trials, and joys.
- What technical aspect of photography do you find most challenging?
Too much looking into the viewfinder makes my vision blur. In one eye only, mind you.
Currently, I’m challenging myself with all things motion related, and how to use my strobe for creative results. Oh, some of the results are “creative.” Hah!
I’m also going to be experimenting more with isolating light. Largely because since my youth I’ve been a fan of the Dutch painter, Rembrandt’s, ability to draw the eye using strong contrast. (eg. The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, 1633). It’s a challenge for me to do photographically.
- Is there a particular group you feel is misunderstood or stereotyped that you’d like to document common humanity amongst?
Orangutans. They want hair cuts, too! Pardon the humor. Seriously, I feel that any group can be misunderstood by another group, depending on the relationship and circumstances. Images & media can cause division between whole nations, or sub-groups within those nations, along boundary lines of ethnic, religious, political, or status quo identities.
I’m particularly moved to break down stereotypes of Muslim peoples because I have lived with them in two countries and befriended them in my own. Spending so much time cross-culturally, I have seen that harmful stereotypes about Americans exist too. I’m eager to break these down. And here’s the catch: it’s not just those who are harmfully stereotyped against that visual peacemakers aim to help; it’s also those who hold the harmful stereotype. To hold onto something false and negative hurts your own soul.
- Do you have an idea worth sharing?
You’re looking at it on this website. Though I’ve got several more brewing.
Here’s one I’ll leave you with: “Get some rest.” Wild idea, right?
Mario Mattei, visionary, social entrepreneur, independent photographer, documentary filmmaker & family man. He is the President & Co-Founder of the both the International Guild of Visual Peacemakers (IGVP) and Visual Peace Media.
At age 4 he declared, “The way to know the future is to plan ahead.” In kindergarten he stayed in from recess to draw. When his father took him camping & hunting in Arizona, he shouldered a camera. Educated at the Art Institute of Phoenix in Creative Multimedia, Mario began professional life as a web designer and creative director. On the side, he pursued photography, published poetry, wrote fiction, invested in real estate, and recorded an EP with Black Box Burning. His love for photography & backpacking culminated in a 6 month stint living & working in Kashmir, India with world photographer Matt Brandon. There he co-founded Miltsar Poetry Group among graduates of the University of Kashmir. Arriving home he founded Sun Dried Ink Writers ’ Group and received his BA in English & Creative Writing from Arizona State University. In 2009, Mario moved with his young family to Turkey to pursue visual peacemaking. He has published two photography books on Turkey & produced two micro-documentaries, all emphasizing common humanity.
Today, he continues to work as an independent photographer and visual storyteller. His current documentary film project, Dance the Past into the Future, explores the changing culture of northeast Turkey with a focus on the most transcendent, human elements that will live on.
Mario is passionate about peacemaking, justice, Jesus, visual storytelling & leadership. He is drawn to stories & their power to create meaning, to document, entertain, guide, and to connect humanity. Mario is native to the U.S. but resides in Turkey with his supportive wife, Angela, & three small children.
My Recent Activity
- I added: Transcending Your Story Topic
to Blog on November 02, 2012
- I added: Visual Peacemaking Documentary Film Project
to Blog on July 19, 2012
- I added: IGVP is now on Flickr!
to Buzz on May 30, 2012
- I added: Intentional Seeing
to Blog on April 20, 2012
- I added: 1 Path to Unlocking Your Potential
to Blog on April 04, 2012
- I added: The Need for Visual Peacemaking Continues
to Blog on February 07, 2012
- I added: Prophecy for 2012
to Blog on December 31, 2011
- I added: COMMENTS Now Enabled!
to Buzz on December 27, 2011
- I added: Influence Through Story
to Blog on December 27, 2011
- I added: Fruit, Faith, & Friendship
to Photo Stories on December 09, 2011
I’M AVAILABLE FOR THE FOLLOWING:
* Photography for your non-profit/NGO, worldwide.
* Co-instructing workshops, photo walks, and photo tours.
* Speaking about Visual Peacemaking.
* Antalya, Turkey All Day Photo Tour: (1) person $300, (2) ppl $450
* Portfolio review via email or Skype. For customized options, contact me.
If you’re interested in any of these, email me directly. I promise to bring a strong work ethic and my very best.
Also, for more info on my professional background and capabilities visit my LinkedIn profile.
More stuff about me...
What's it like to work with Mario?
"I've been extremely impressed with Mario's dedication, professionalism, organization and obvious concern for our time. Mario is an enormous asset to the photographic community."
-Jeffrey Chapman, freelance cultural, humanitarian and world photographer. Guild member.
“Mario is a highly professional, visionary who has consistently produced outstanding work over the several years I have known him. I have seen him do an excellent job of selling himself and the projects he has managed, delivering every time. It is evident his vision is contagious to those around him, whether interviewing with CNN or sharing a quiet cup of chai with close friends.”
-Dave Christensen, videographer
“With the International Guild of Visual Peacemakers, Mario has stepped up as one of the first photographers to coordinate a wider grouping of humanitarian, cultural, world and NGO photographers.”
-Craig Ferguson, Photographer, Creative Director, Owner, Craig Ferguson Images
“Mario was the photographer that we chose for our family portraits a few years ago. We used him again the following year and have been very pleased with the results. He has an eye for unique shots, pays attention to detail and is always concerned that it comes out "right". He was easy to work with, maintained a pleasant sense of humor to keep all the subjects in the picture loose, and we just thoroughly enjoyed the experience. He will be our choice for the next family portrait if he is available. I would highly recommend him and his work to anyone needing a great photographer. You won't be disappointed!”
-Elaine & Larry Bates, Entrepreneurs
“I attended a presentation Mario gave to help an Indian tribe (in the Grand Canyon) that was flooded out while he was visiting them. I observed his leadership skills and found them impressive, his organization skills were definitely demonstrated in his well prepared presentation. I was in awe of his photography, he captured the beauty of the area and also the natural destruction that took place there. He was professional, not in the least boring, and showed great compassion for the natives who lost so much.
-Terry Mills, Retired Mathematics Instructor, Arizona State University