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Matthew Cicanese

Matthew Cicanese

Matthew Cicanese is a DC-based Photographer specializing in Editorial Photojournalism and Documentary Storytelling, with a focus in macro photography subjects, human-ecosystem connections, and conservation coverage as an Associate Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers

The current environmental issues that he's focusing on is the loss of biodiversity worldwide, specifically with small flora and fauna that are often overlooked. This includes fungi, plants, lichen, and other unseen life forms that go unseen and unloved. His coverage of environmental issues so far includes habitat destruction, deforestation, red tide, in the plethora of others.


As a National Geographic Explorer and award-winning Documentary Photographer, Matthew travels the world to share stories of wildlife, people, and how everything is connected. His work has graced the cover of World Wildlife Magazine and has been featured in numerous print and digital publications. His most recent editorial coverage was his assignment work for Smithsonian Magazine.

Headshot by Erika Reiter

My camera Is an extension of my senses to navigate the world in a quite literal sense. While surviving penicillin-resistant meningitis as a newborn, I became permanently deaf-blind from the resulting brain damage. In grade school, I attended weekly physical therapy sessions to retrain my brain, as everything from speech to hand-eye coordination presented new challenges for me to overcome. As a kid who lived for moments in the outdoors, I found my camera to be an invaluable sensory tool to expand my horizons of discovery. The world as seen through my camera lens was the world that just made more sense to me, compared to the cacophony of life around me. As a young deaf-blind artist, my camera was my missing link. When paired with my interests in little life forms worldwide, the camera lens became the perfect vector to see into my backyard's hidden microcosms and start sharing them with the world.

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Following high school, I dove into a formal study of environmental science in college, with a continued curiosity to explore the topics I learned from a photographic approach. This desire to continue feeding my childhood sense of curiosity and playful experimentation in my work ultimately influenced my decision to become a documentarian. As I continued to build my understanding of the natural world in my science track, I expanded my horizons in earning Minors in design and communication by completing my degree. Following my scientific studies, my time as a part of Duke's MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts program laid the foundation for me to express my work's emotive side and better understand the human connections with the natural world.

After my academic studies, I became an Emerging League Photographer with the iLCP (International League of Conservation Photographers) and National Geographic Young Explorer Grantee. Since 2015 my creative and business endeavors continue to push the boundaries of documentary coverage and creative entrepreneurship. My conservation storytelling surrounds lesser-known topics in environmental, cultural, and socio-ecology dialogues. This focus has included documentation of rare and endangered species, community outreach through nonprofits, and local education through bespoke community engagement programming.

Now I work as an award-winning documentary photographer to continue telling stories surrounding wildlife and people, in addition to being a business consultant that helps creatives refine their path and scale their craft. It is critical for us always to nurture and polish an atmosphere of collaboration, innovation, and continued curiosity for the greater good. I'm seeing how my experience and creative guidance are actively changing people's lives and helping them create new opportunities for their brands as artists. It humbles me to help others grow like this while continuing my journey of being a voice for our planet's beauty and importance.

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Artist Statement

Short Documentaries

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