Written by: Harrison Gough
Perspective. Balance. Passion. Collaboration. To Matthew Lavin, these are the keystones that make Aerography.
Working with animatronics and puppets in New York City, Lavin discovered the world of kite aerial photography (KAP). While working with large frame kites rigged for cameras, Lavin discovered a unique opportunity in a field that has grown tremendously in the past years: unmanned aerial photography—drones.
Though aerial photography and cinematography existed in the form of planes and helicopters, nothing came quite as close to offering a “bumblebee’s eye view”: filming that wasn’t too high, and wasn’t too low. Lavin’s interest in drones gave him the ability to provide a unique perspective that he would continue to pursue for years to come. Now, more than ten years later, Aerography is an established business based in Santa Cruz, and Matthew Lavin’s soaring ambition has taken him to the forefront of drone development, photography and Cinematography.
“I was never going down the traditional business path,” said Lavin when asked about the Aerography’s beginnings. However, pioneering a new industry and being welcomed into the International Cinematography Guild were benefits he’d never imagined.
To Lavin, maintaining Aerography and keeping passionate about the art is something that requires more than a little balance. Marketing his business is a full time job, as is tending to his gear and ensuring his drones are operable and effective. According to Lavin, the most important thing is the craft. Being able to focus on craft is a difficult task, but with the proper mindset and balance between maintenance, marketing, and the myriad of hurdles that come with regulation, it becomes a realized passion.
Of course, as a resident of New York City’s East Village, coming to Santa Cruz was a journey in itself. As property values skyrocketed and it became harder and harder to stay where he’d called home for eighteen years, Lavin sought more promising avenues. After a six-month apprenticeship with a UAV builder in Florida, Lavin came to the West Coast to be closer to his fiancee, whose family has deep roots in the Santa Cruz community. The move turned out to be beneficial for the drone business as well, thanks to Santa Cruz’s close proximity to Silicon Valley. Lavin recognized that the growth of the drone would soon bring robotics back to the United States, and being near such a renowned tech hub was beneficial for the fledgeling Aerography.
As for the future of the field of unmanned aerial photography and filmmaking, Lavin is cautiously
optimistic. Photographers have always had a code of ethics, and the code is something that needs to evolve and be adapted by the new wave of aerial photographers and drone enthusiasts—as Lavin calls them, “perspective-getters”. With drones, risks must be analyzed and accounted for, owner responsibility becomes more and more important with each new step in technology.
Hosting his business in Santa Cruz allows for important opportunities to collaborate with others in the field. The business of art has always been a tough one, but the collaborative effort has been a beacon for Lavin. The concept of cooptition—working with competitors to ensure a solid industry—is part of what makes collaboration so important. Through working together, Matthew Lavin’s philosophy ensures that artists can grow together.
Aerial photography and looking for elevated solutions is a big part of what makes Aerography so important, and a big part of what drives Lavin. With a history that reflects a passion for art, photography, he continues to provide a unique perspective for Santa Cruz and beyond.
Don’t miss Matthew Lavin and nine other entrepreneurs behind the lens speak about why they do what they do at Event Santa Cruz: Photobomb! Night, Oct 20th, 6pm at Verve Coffee Roasters (104 Bronson Street, Santa Cruz).