Having a portrait taken by Austin photographer Matt Lankes is a coveted token.
Ellar Coltrane through the years in Boyhood. PHOTO BY MATT LANKES
Willie, Lyle, Luke, you name them—Matt Lankes (@mattlankes) has photographed them! His skillful eye captures one’s personality perfectly and becomes a family heirloom. Photography runs in the Lankes genes. His father was well-known Austinite photojournalist Todd Lankes for the Austin American-Statesman, who took one of the most widely published photographs from the University of Texas Tower shooting. “I remember my dad always had a camera in hand,” says Lankes.
Lyle Lovett. PHOTO BY MATT LANKES
Glancing around his home and studio are iconic images of Lankes and his siblings in bubbling Austin brooks and bluebonnets. Can you tell he’s a seventh-generation Texan? He is an artist, and a day spent in his studio is a day worth having. Accolades stare at you while you smile at the camera—including the world’s largest Polaroid photo—a museum of Austin photo history if you will. “I wanted to do the same thing my dad did,” he says. Lankes has succeeded, and then some. Having worked alongside Annie Leibovitz, Dan Winters, Michael O’Brien and other well-known photographers, his portfolio speaks for itself.
He started by doing portraits, movie sets, music albums, and concerts, but no project was too small or too large for Lankes. The creative says “yes” to anything. If you go to Hopdoddy Burger Bar on South Congress, the photos on the walls read proudly, “Matt Lankes.” He is everywhere, or at least his work is. The movie Boyhood was Lanke’s longest project, consisting of 12 years, in which he wrote a book called Boyhood 12 Years on Film, published by the University of Texas Press. Boyhood received both the Golden Globe Award and the British Academy Film Award for Best Film. Lankes notes he was “honored to be a part of the set and capture the project.”
Woody Harrelson. PHOTO BY MATT LANKES
Lankes also has a portrait in the permanent collection of The National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. If that doesn’t speak for his talent, I don’t know what will. The ability to be a full-time freelancer and jump from creative project to project is a gift and risk he is willing to take for the craft. “It’s not easy being a freelance photographer, especially in a competitive environment like Austin,” notes Lankes.
Willie Nelson. PHOTO BY MATT LANKES
For every musician in Austin, as we are such a musically riddled city, Lankes has a story. Whether it’s, “Hey, I shot their album cover” or “When they first got started, I went and shot their show at the Continental,” his ATX roots go deep, as you can tell by his portfolio or spending the day with him. If you get the chance to get portraits done by Matt Lankes, don’t miss out on the opportunity.