I've been making photographs which explore social issues and celebrate humanity and the natural world for over twenty years.
Based in San Francisco, I was born and raised in California, and received a degree in zoology from U.C. Berkeley. Though I left science in favor of the creative and expressive aspects of photography, my understanding of animals and the natural world inform my views of humanity and my photography.
No Dar Papaya, my photographic exploration of Colombia in Polaroid, created over elven years, has just been published in the U.S. Past projects include Back to the Ranch, my exploration of one of the oldest ranching communities in the United States, across the bay from San Francisco, and its demise due to urbanization (http://www.flysfo.com/museum/exhibitions/matthew-james-obrien-back-ranch), and Looking For Hope, a collaborative study (photos by me, texts by students) of growing up in the inner city and the public school experience in Oakland, where I taught for several years (www.lookingforhope.net).
My work has been exhibited and collected by a number of institutions, including The California Museum of Photography, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Library of Congress, The Fries Museum (Netherlands) and the Museo de Arte Moderno de Cartagena. Among the awardsI have received are a Fulbright Fellowship, a Mother Jones International Fund for Documentary Photography Award, and a Community Heritage Grant from the California Council for the Humanities. My photography has appeared in many publications including Camera Arts, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Slate, and Mother Jones.
In addition to creating photographs, he makes films and teaches photography in both English and Spanish.