Spotlight On – Matt Warren

How did you get your start in photography?


I’ve always been a creative person. I used to write music before photography overtook my life. A family member actually introduced me to drones. The first time I watched it fly and seen the perspectives you can capture I was hooked! I knew I had to get one to drench my creative thirst! And I wasn’t disappointed!




Do you think the surfer is aware he’s about to be eaten up by a huge sand cloud? This is what I love about the “top down” perspective from a drone, seeing the world in way you wouldn’t see from the ground. The colours, shapes and textures of the sea from up here never seem to disappoint.


The sand got kicked up from the sea bed by a passing wave leaving this huge Seahorse shaped sand cloud. Im pretty sure the surfer is unaware of its presence, not that it could cause any harm of course but more to the point that it creates a pretty mesmerising picture!


Watching the sand cloud grow and take shape just after the wave passed by was pretty spectacular to. This picture mostly came down to patience and timing. I really wanted to achieve that separation between the sea, surfer and sand cloud. If the shot was taken to early the sand cloud wouldn’t of looked as big nor would of it had quite the same shape. If the shot was taken to late the surfer would of been submerged by the cloud which would of defeated the point of what I was trying to achieve.


What type of photography are you shooting and what motivated you to focus on that genre?


I think what motivates me the most about aerial photography is the perspectives you can capture and the freedom that comes with it. Theres already a massive feeling of freedom being out on the coast but using a drone to explore with as well just makes the feeling much more intense. Also it just feels a lot more creative to me. Capturing images and angles you don’t see in day to day life.


Im a huge fan of seascapes and its amazing how different the sea can look from a “top down” perspective.
I find it exciting, heading out and not knowing what cool abstract shots you may come across. No two days are the same and there’s always a gem to be found.


What has been your biggest achievement or obstacle along the way?


Getting my PFCO (permission for commercial operations) was quite a big achievement for me as it allowed me to sell my imagery and work commercially with the drone.


To be honest I feel like my whole journey has been a big achievement for me so far. I feel I have come quite far in a short space of time. If you told me two years ago that id be selling my work, displaying imagery in galleries and working alongside big brands I never would of believed you. Of course the journey hasn’t been all plain sailing, its definitely been a learning curve too.


St ives


St Ives to me is probably one of the prettiest places in Cornwall. With its picturesque harbour, Quirky buildings and stunning beaches there’s so many photo opportunities to be had.


I wanted to show just how colourful St Ives can be because when the sun sets here the colours really do become so rich and vibrant, you can’t help feeling like a bee, hypnotised and drawn into the most prettiest of flowers.


Of course beautiful sunsets don’t happen here very evening (unfortunately)… So trying to work out what the conditions will be like and praying that mother nature deals you a good hand is a small part of it too.


The most important thing to me for aerial landscapes is good lighting, then once I’m happy with a composition I try and let the landscape tell the rest of the story.. I used a Polarpro Gradient filter to block out some of the light from the sky to achieve a less contrasty and more flat image. This way I knew I wouldn’t get as much noise when bringing up the shadows in the foreground.


Tidal Pools


Tidal Pools on the sand banks of the Camel Estuary. As the tide retreats a huge sandbank becomes visible in the middle of the estuary. The sand gets carved and shaped by the ongoing tides and leaves these rather exotic looking tidal pools.


As the tide retreats boats can be left stranded here with ‘old tales’ of people seen out on the sand cleaning there boats when in fact they were caught by the outgoing tide and had nothing better to do until the tide came back in to re-float there boat.


Who and/or what inspires you most?


There are definitely other photographers out there that inspire me to get creative but I think for me I’m inspired the most by trying to improve and become better than I was yesterday. Im also greatly inspired by my surroundings. The ocean is an amazing place, how anyone could be near it and not feel inspired I never know.


What is your approach? Is there anything in particular you try to achieve during a shoot (for example triggering certain feelings, etc.) or are there any specific techniques you use?


For me it really depends on the day. I shoot mainly coastal imagery so one day the sea can be flat and calm, another day it could be rough and huge. I really just try and improvise on what’s already there.


If there’s a lot of water moving about I may try and capture a 1-3sec exposure and focus on the energy and movement of the sea. On a calm day I’m more likely to take a landscape approach and focus more on the surrounding area. Sometimes I can turn up to a location with a specific shot in mind to find out that it’s not gonna work how I intended or I might find a much more interesting shot. I think there a lot of factors that come into play when taking a shot, the weather, time of day, incoming tide, wave size or swell are just to name a few.


Why is accurate color important within your workflow?


I sell my imagery and display my work in galleries so I know full well how important accurate colour is. There’s nothing worse than turning up to get an image printed to find out the colours are way off or the contrast just isn’t right. You can save yourself a whole lot of time and effort by having your screen calibrated right from the start.


Tidal Islands


Low tide on the Camel Estuary offers some amazing abstract views from above. As the water retreats with the outgoing tide the sand banks in the middle of the estuary slowly start to reveal themselves. The patterns and texture of the newly emerged sand can really make a somewhat surreal looking image. I think the boat adds some nice scale here and maybe leaves you wondering if this is a place you can actually explore by foot?


Although the composition is very simple i really feel it works well with this image. The light at the top of the image draws you in and the sand acts as a leading line drawing your eyes slowly down the image towards the shadows at the bottom.




Any tips or advice for photographers just beginning their career?


Don’t be afraid to be different. If you really want your work to stand out then following the crowd may not cut it.
At the same time you need to enjoy what you’re doing. Find a style that you like and slowly think of ways you can make it different or unique. It won’t happen over night and you will have some failures along the way but Its about learning from your mistakes and striving to improve. Most of all.. Enjoy the journey.


Warren is calibrating his monitor with a Spyder X Elite


About the Author – Matt Warren


I’m a professional Drone Photographer and visual artist based in Cornwall UK. Most of my time is spent exploring its vast coastline and finding unique perspectives to capture it from. I’m really in love with the ocean and think its an amazing subject to capture from above.


Cornwalls coastline can be very dramatic and with its constant changes in weather it means no two days are the same.


My imagery is vibrant and often dreamlike. For me capturing the image is just the start, most of the work is done in the editing stage where I really try and bring the image to life and put my own twist on it.


I offer prints for purchase and my work is on display In many local galleries. I also do a lot of commercial aerial work for other brands/companies.


Photography Type: Drone photography/Videography


Articles from Matt Warren