Video Production Specialist
What is your favorite season at the Arboretum and why?
It was difficult to decide, but Matthew landed on fall for a number of reasons. The cool weather and the continuous colors throughout the collections are just a couple. Every week, shrubs and trees are in various stages of coloring. From the perspective and point of view of what Matthew does with videography, the sun flares shown through the camera during that time of the year are his favorite. They present as nice, long flares spread across the frame that capture the beauty and the feel of the sun on screen.
What is the best part of your job?
Working at the Arboretum is really the best part of his job. Having a backyard of 1,700 acres of beauty as an employee is amazing. As it relates to his work, Matthew is grateful to work in such a creative field. Moving from the tedious and laborious stage of preproduction to production itself carries with it a mixed bag of excitement, risk, and freedom. Matthew finds that process energizing, whether he is shooting B-roll or an interview. There’s a level of excitement in how he frames the subject and in how that translates into his end camera choices. Matthew also finds a great deal of satisfaction connecting with people when interviewing during filming. His role is not just to film them, but to support them. Sometimes the subjects are nervous, and he appreciates being able to help folks bring out what they are trying to say, helping them to dig deeper. Matthew is committed to the quality of the end product and finds achieving that quality very rewarding.
Do you have a favorite location on the grounds or a favorite tree?
As far as a favorite location, there are so many beautiful places at the Arboretum that Matthew appreciates. Some of them are very common to others, but in particular, he enjoys the Appalachia Collection. Due to the topography of the collection, Matthew is able to capture great depth in his videography. The area has various trees and shrubs that make it interesting year-round, in all four seasons. There are many tall, grand trees, specifically oaks. It feels transformative to travel through that area. Appalachia doesn’t really register as being present in an otherwise relatively flat Illinois; but at the right angle, Matthew feels like he is in the mountains. As far as a favorite tree, Matthew appreciates the colorful bracts and the texture on the flowers of the red flowering dogwood in the China Collection.
What do you want visitors to know about The Morton Arboretum and the mission?
As part of the Marketing and Communications Department, Matthew and his team always have this question top of mind. While visitors think of the Arboretum as a beautiful place to visit, Matthew wants them to know that when they visit, or donate, or take a class, that they are supporting invaluable research both on the Arboretum grounds and globally to protect and understand trees. It is because of this research that Matthew believes families and children can unlearn tree blindness, and learn to respect and appreciate trees. He knows this from experience, as he sees every tree that he walks by, which he didn’t do before he joined the Arboretum staff. Members and guests help the Arboretum stay on track in the work to sustain trees and help them thrive in a new and changing climate.
When thinking of the Arboretum’s Employee Core Values, which one resonates with you and why?
All of the Employee Core Values are great values, but work(ing) together is a big theme at this present time, not just in the workplace but in the world. Matthew sees this as a transformative process. If he is working on a project, he may be the only one that has eyes on it for a period of time; but when he collaborates, and when he is working together with others, the product he is trying to create is amplified. Working together allows Matthew to grow individually and to be exposed to diverse opinions; it’s humbling. While there is a time and place for working alone, collaboration is essential at some point to ensure the execution of a project.
What’s an insider tip that you’d like to share with visitors?
His tip actually aligns with his favorite location in the Appalachia Collection. Matthew recommends hiking Main Trail Loop 1, and on the north side of the trail, taking photos that will capture a mountainlike scene. The Appalachia Collection also has great colors to show the separation and the depth in the space.
Share an interesting fun fact about you:
What do Matthew Taylor and Duke Ellington have in common? They both have synesthesia, a neurological condition that cross connects senses, allowing them to apply two senses at a time. Matthew has a deep background in music, and when he hears or plays music, he equates colors with the music notes. For example, C is blue, D is purple, E is brown, and so on. And even the sharps and flats have their own color identifiers. Matthew applies this to work, as it helps him understand the harmonic structure of his pieces.