Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Matthew J. Lee credits his classes at Santa Barbara City College for a well-rounded education that prepared him for his current career. His art history class stands out in his mind as giving him a lasting appreciation for art and the impact of strong images. Although Matt’s passion for photography started in high school, his journey to success started his final semester at SBCC when he was chosen to attend the last photo workshop taught in Yosemite National Park by legendary photographer Ansel Adams.
From SBCC, Matt transferred to San Francisco State University where he started off as a film major. He transitioned to studying photo journalism and was ultimately awarded the Greg Robinson Memorial Award, a scholarship given to the College Photographer of the Year for San Francisco – an award created in the memory of San Francisco Examiner Photojournalist Greg Robinson. Matt has been a Boston Globe staff photographer since 1999, but has also worked as a staff photographer for the Philadelphia Daily News, the Charlotte Observer, Long Beach Press-Telegram, the Miami Herald, and the Oakland Tribune - where he shared the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for News Photography for coverage of the Loma Prieta Earthquake during the World Series. He traversed mountains to cover twenty-eight exhausting days of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, photographed Super Bowls XLI – XLIV, and has officially photographed every U.S. President since Reagan.
And still, Matt’s contributions go beyond capturing an image. One of the most memorable events of his career came from his cover shot on the Long Beach Press-Telegram depicting a family's heartache over losing four children and their mother to a tragic event. Matt recalls, “I moved a wealthy reader so much that they volunteered to pay for the entire funeral expense of all five family members. Stories like these give my job so much more purpose and illustrate the power of a strong image.”
(Photo courtesy of David Silverman)