Round 35 Judge – Matt Payne

June 30, 2022

Matt Payne in San Juan Mountains

Hey there! I’m Matt Payne and I am a mountain climber, adventurer, and fine art nature and landscape photographer living in Durango, Colorado with my wife of nearly twenty years and my teenage son. In 2018, I completed my life-long goal of climbing the highest 100 mountains in Colorado, where my love of photography was kindled. Since 2017, I have hosted a weekly podcast dedicated to nature photography called “F-Stop Collaborate and Listen.” I am also the co-founder of Nature First Photography, an organization that was created in 2018 to help increase ethical awareness in nature photography. Lastly, I am the co-creator of the Natural Landscape Photography Awards, an international photography competition which rewards and celebrates nature photographers who dedicate themselves to photographing and editing their work in a realistic fashion.

I grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado and was lucky to have parents that impressed upon me a healthy appreciation for the outdoors. I grew up quite poor, which was 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. 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.

In 2003, I graduated with a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, a subject I love to weave into my writings and conversations with others. I also write articles for OnLandscape Magazine and on my own blog. When I’m not working on photography projects, I am working in my full-time job where I help adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities.




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