Let’s start with the basics: Where are you from and where are you now living?
I originate from the UK, grew up in Reading and Brighton. I moved to Chile nine years ago and am now living in Santa Cruz. We just built a house and a studio and we moved in in December.
What prompted you to move abroad, and why Chile?
I lived in France for a while, then the States for a few years. I moved to Chile after meeting my wife-to-be, Andrea Leon, winemaker at Lapostolle. She told me she did not want to make wine in the UK until 2020, and for me as a photographer, the light was better in Chile for photos.
Did you speak Spanish before you moved? How did you learn?
I did not speak a word of Spanish when I moved here and now have a vocabulary of about 7 words. My Spanish is truly awful. I am the typical Brit abroad.
What do you do to support yourself financially in Chile?
I work as a photographer for around thirty magazines around the world, mainly in wine and travel such as Wine Enthusiast, Vanity Fair, Conde Nast and Decanter. My web site is (www.mattwilson.cl)
Does living in South America make it difficult to keep in front of important clients in the US and the UK, or can you use your location to your advantage?
My location is an advantage. I earn most of my money from outside Chile (around 85%). Chile does not market itself well and treats photography as a hobby. However, I have a strong client base outside.
What makes Chile such a great place to photograph?
Chile has amazing landscapes, amazing characters and ever changing great light. Wherever I go in Chile feels like a new country. I keep discovering new places. Last year my favorite place was Rapa Nui (Easter Island). It’s now Patagonia, but it will probably change again soon.
Was it difficult to start your own company abroad? What were some of the challenges?
I work freelance and because I have a good client base and am regularly published all around the world, I don’t need to market myself outside Chile. I have also just started a video production company with two other people. We have remote control helicopters, or Octocopters as they are called. They can carry DSLR cameras. We specialize in aerial video and images.
What are some things about the Latin culture that you love? What are some things that completely annoy you?
I love the friendliness, the way that when you greet or say goodbye it’s a hug or a kiss. If you go around to someone’s house, there will always be food and drinks supplied. Families are more structured here.
What I don’t like is the lateness. To be late is perfectly acceptable here. For me 15 minutes is the max I will wait. I have lost clients because of this, but to me lateness is the ultimate in rudeness. Don’t waste my time because you are a slackass.
When I first moved to Chile, I was not impressed with the food at all. There is amazing natural produce here, but it seemed no one was cooking it well. I have since revised my opinion. I think in the last few years the cuisine here has improved immensely. Chefs like Pilar Rodriguez, Rodrigo Acuna (new executive chef at Lapostolle residence) and Thomas Olivar and also travelling gourmets like Liz Caskey and Margaret Snook (both Yanks) have changed my opinion and probably many others as well.
Have you gotten residency or citizenship? How is the bureaucracy in Chile for that sort of thing?
I have citizenship. I got it because I got married. It took a while and the red tape was amazing. However, I think I can even vote now.
Do you find that you hang out with more locals or expats? Do you feel accepted as a local, even though you are not native to Chile?
I don’t real feel accepted, and most of the people I hang out with are expats or wine industry people.
Name some things that you cherish about your life now that probably never would have happened had you stayed abroad.
I have my wife and kids, which are the most important things to me. I have a good career which would not have happened in the UK or the US. I just built a house and studio which would have cost much more than I could have afforded in the UK
Do you intend to stay in Chile, or make another international move someday? Where would you go?
I never think I will stay in Chile, but I probably will. I want to spend more time than I do in the UK, but it’s just so expensive there right now that I need to win the lottery or something.
Name 10 things still on your bucket list:
1. Jump out of an airplane with a parachute on
2. Learn to scuba dive
3. Watch England win a World Cup final
4. Eat at Arzak restaurant in San Sebastien
5. Get a Decanter cover
6. Swim in the water above the Marianas trench – 7 miles of water and who knows what underneath me! What a buzz!
7. Eat a Danish pastry and drink a coffee at 6 am outside Tiffany’s in NY (I almost did this, but it was with a croissant)
8. Travel around Tuscany with my wife in an Alfa Romeo
9. Skateboard with Rodney Mullen (an amazing skateboarder the same age as me)
10. Learn to speak great Spanish
How can people connect with you?
www.mattwilson.cl, Twitter is (@photos_in_Chile), Instagram is (Matt_Wilson_gc)