About - mattbunkerphotography

Matt skiing down the Roman Headwall on Mt. Baker.  Photo by Jacob Moon. 

My name is Matt!  I'm an Army Vet, ski mountaineer, ultra runner, and photographer.  

Like many PNW residents, I'm originally from a small town in the Midwest, but I had always dreamed about moving west.  Every other year our family would do a two week camping trip in the west and I quickly fell in love with the vast open spaces and wild mountains.  I spent most of my childhood playing in the woods next to our house, reading Calvin and Hobbes, and paging through old National Geographic magazines or reading about Lewis and Clark's explorations.  It was my dream to become an explorer as well. 

In the mid seventies my grandparents bought land in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  After camping on the land for nearly twenty years, they built a small cabin a few years before I was born.  Each year my family would make several trips to the Cabin, each trip slowly shaping me and growing my love for the outdoors.  Miles of wilderness surrounded us in all directions, crisscrossed by old logging roads slowly being reclaimed by nature.  I still remember the freedom when my dad first taught me how to use a map and compass- I had always felt comfortable in the woods, but these new tools opened my world.  Under the flickering glow of the gas lights each night I would meticulously study the topographic map on the wall, carefully planning a route, and spend hours the next day bushwhacking through swamps to reach my objective- which was typically just another swamp, but for a twelve year old there was nothing more exciting.   To me, I was simply following the footsteps of my heroes-  Amundsen, Livingstone, and Fremont.

Right before high school my parents bought our first digital camera.  The ability to instantly see the images enthralled me, and I became the unofficial photographer for our trip to Yellowstone and the Tetons that summer.  Throughout high school I helped with the yearbook, and while at West Point I eventually became the lead photographer for the yearbook.

In April of 2014 the military brought me to Tacoma and I finally had the opportunity to realize my childhood dream of exploring the mountains.  My love for the Cascades and the wet rainy winters grew fast.  Over the next four years nearly every weekend that wasn't occupied on training missions I was in the woods - mountaineering, skiing, mountain biking, and trail running.  Pursuing photography on a professional level temporarily took the back seat, as my energy was devoted to the military, but I still continued to take photos of friends on our weekend trips. 

After fulfilling my five year service obligation in the summer of 2018, I made the difficult decision to leave the military and pursue my lifelong dream of exploring the mountains.  Some of the highlights of the previous year were running the Wonderland Trail around Mt Rainier, running the Rockwall Trail in Kootenay National Park, running the Fatdog 120 race in Manning National Park, skiing the STS, Swiss, Forever Young, and Grizzly couloirs in Roger's Pass (Glacier National Park).

Matt on the summit of Mt Rogers, Roger's Pass, British Columbia