Swimming against the ubiquitous stream of impersonal, boring headshots, Matter reinvents the photographic calling card for performers, kids, and business people alike. Many of his works deliberately play off the shot’s background and surroundings; in this case one of the world’s greatest cities: New York.

“The city has a profound effect on every aspect of my work. I became a street photographer when I moved to the city, using my Pentax,” Jordan Matter explains. “Now that I have become a portrait photographer, I still love to incorporate the city into my work because of its beauty and energy. There is nothing else that compares.”

While his portraits reflect just how deeply the city moves, energizes, and engages people, this sense and artistic vision literally jumps out at us in his “Dancers Among Us” series. Inspired by his own 3-year-old son, Matter wanted to capture New Yorkers “alive and in the moment, celebrating all aspects and emotions of everyday life” to transport this awareness of the present, this appeal and allure of our own surroundings.  While shooting the project, he discovered that dancers were best suited to tell these stories through their bodies. “They are trained to capture passion with their bodies. They often create a fantasy world or offer us a deeper look into familiar settings.” Matter’s photographs of dancers who express the sheer joy of life in everyday New York are equally impressive and thrilling. They portray the vibrancy of urban life, the immediacy of our existence in such an environment, and the interplay between body and city.

Later on, after “Dancers Among Us” had been published in book form, the artist decided to try a different discipline. While the dancers were invariably expressive, flamboyant, and floating, the recent “Athletes Among Us” focuses on the sheer intensity, strength, and dedication that spurs us on. This series breathes energy, willpower, and passion to reveal humanity’s potential – not just on the field or stage, but in our everyday urban lives.

Text: Lars Schmeink
Header image: Dancer Amanda Wooden, © Jordan Matter