Matthew Joshua Price March 28, 1975 ( 45 ) Photographer Bisexual Quincy, IL Single
Matthew has never been spectacular in school. He sucks at math, and his concentration leaves a lot to be desired. But something must have rubbed off on him from his father, because he's got a dreamy air to him and is content to doodle or write poetry, rather than concentrate on things that actually need to get done. His parents worried that he had a learning disability, and perhaps he does. Structured learning has always been difficult for him, and he would much rather go at his own pace than have to follow a set plan.

He's soft spoken, quietly cheerful, and has a devillish streak in him that sometimes runs deeper than it should. He doesn't trust easily, but once he does he'll take a bullet for you, should the need for it come. He's curious about everything, doing things like poking his fingers into cake batter because he needs to feel the slightly slimy texture he's seeing. He's still as sweet as anything, the same sweetness that made his parents joke that he must be a secret super villain at heart, because he's too good to be real.
  • Childhood
    Matthew was a very quiet little boy, and he kept to himself for the most part. At first, his parents were worried that he wasn't socializing enough at school, but the kindergarten teacher reassured them, telling them that he wasn't antisocial and that many children preferred the company of themselves at first. He was probably just shy, and he would grow out of it. He was sweet as honey, and so well behaved that jokes were often made amongst the adults in his life that he must be a super evil genius, and the goodness of him was only an act to throw people off his trail.

    When his parents found out they were expecting again, they were thrilled. Because clearly, the children they produced were pretty perfect. His mother's pregnancy was difficult this time, however, and she spent most of it laying in a dark room, which scared Matthew a little. And when Nicole went into an excruciating labour a month and a half early, Matthew's world became a little bit darker, and a little bit quieter. Everyone spoke in whispers, and he wasn't allowed to meet the baby, whom he'd been excited about since his parents had first told him he was going to be a big brother. His father stayed in the hospital after the baby was born, and Matthew was just beginning to think that maybe his family was never coming home again, when his uncle picked him up early from school. Very early. His face was unshaven and solemn, and he told Matthew that they were going to the hospital so that he could say goodbye to the little brother that he had never met. Because, it turned out, his baby brother Maxwell had been born too early, and in distress. He had been put on a ventilator, but the resulting pressure had caused a tension pneumothorax. Maxwell, who was already weak from being born too early, was given the grim diagnosis of not surviving.

    They didn't want to let Matthew touch Maxwell at first, telling him that he would have to say goodbye to him through the plastic walls of the incubator. But he had been promised for months that he would be able to hold Maxwell as long as he was careful, and he wanted to experience that at least once. So he begged tearfully until the doctors agreed that at this point, there would be no additional harm in letting the boy hold the baby to say goodbye. And so, wearing an oversize yellow gown and seated in a rocking chair, Matthew was handed his tiny infant brother for the first, and assumedly last, time. And when Matthew held him, and felt how the little body struggled to breathe, he was overcome with the grief that a child should never have to feel. He tightened his arms around the dying infant, and proclaimed that he would give his brother his own healthy lungs, and die, if it meant that Maxwell could live.

    Maybe it was a miracle. Maybe it was an answered prayer. Maybe it was a coincidence, but moments later the door burst open and the room was suddenly noisy and excited. Because the pediatric specialist, the one that they hadn't been able to reach, had come to the hospital, fresh off a plane from his honeymoon. There was a procedure to treat the teeny tiny collapsed lung. The baby was taken from Matthew's arms, and whisked away. His mother clung to his father and they both cried. His uncle took him down to the cafeteria for a grilled cheese sandwich, and then for a walk around the tiny lake near the hospital. Matty was exhausted by the end, and dozed in his uncle's arms when he was carried back up to his mother's room. When he woke up it was to more crying, but this time everyone was smiling. The procedure had been a success, and the doctors said that Maxwell was going to be fine. He would be in the hospital for awhile, probably, and Matty wouldn't be able to cuddle him again until the tube in his chest came out and the wound healed. But he was alive, and he was expected to make a full recovery.

    Maxwell was nearly two months old by the time his parents got to bring him home, and immediately Matthew took to the role of a helpful big brother like a duck to water. He carried laundry, helped his parents make meals, and watched Maxwell in his little swing like a hawk, terrified that the baby would fall out and get hurt. When he was allowed to hold him, he sat surrounded by pillows and barely moved, gazing down at the doll-like face in quiet contentment. He loved his little brother fiercely, and his life was happy.

  • Adolescence & (Young) Adulthood
    After the scare with Maxwell, it was safe to say that Matthew's parents were a little protective over their kids for awhile. To say that the boys were sheltered would be fair. They weren't tethered to their parents, but there was a little less freedom than 'normal' kids their age might experience. The first time Matthew went to a party that wasn't strictly chaperoned was when he was fourteen, and his mother called him twice to make sure he was okay. Matthew was always a good sport about it, because he genuinely enjoyed the company of his family. His brother was his best friend, the two of them sharing an unspeakable bond that neither could ever find the right words to describe.

    Another milestone came that year; when he was fourteen, Matthew picked up a camera. It wasn't his first time, of course. He'd taken many pictures on the family's Kodak in his time, and had taken a disposable camera to camp a few times. But that hot July day when he was fourteen, he took up his father's camera and wandered out into the woods behind the Price home. He suddenly took interest in the curl of a leaf, the way the moss grew on a fallen tree, and how the sun caught the strands of a spider's web stretched across a clearing. He spent hours out there, hiking through the woods until he found something interested that he wanted to capture. He only turned back once the camera clicked to tell him that he'd run out of film. It took him an hour and a half to get back to the house, and he realised belatedly that he'd never gone out so far into the woods on his own. His mother wasn't thrilled when he got home, because she'd called for him a few times, but once she saw that he was sun-warmed and safe, she relaxed. And when he babbled over how much he'd enjoyed taking the pictures, quiet but intense in his enthusiasm, his parents exchanged sly smiles over their lemonade.

    For his fifteenth birthday Matt's parents gave him a Nikon camera. It was a little bulky, but the heft of it in his hands warmed him to his core. He quickly shot through the ten rolls of film his parents gave him with the camera, and when he went to his parents to ask for more they told him that this was the kind of hobby that he had to fund himself. They were happy to provide him with the initial tools, but the upkeep was all on him. And that was how Matthew joined the workforce. First it was odd jobs around the neighbourhood. He mowed lawns in the summer, shovelled sidewalks in the winter, and borrowed Max's old wagon to deliver groceries. A month after he turned sixteen, he got a real part-time job stocking shelves at a department store. The best part about it was they sold film there, and he took advantage of his employee discount. He also bought himself a guitar because... well. What teenage boy doesn't want to play the guitar? He taught himself how to play. It became a secondary hobby to him. Not as intense a passion as photography, but it was something he really enjoyed.

    After graduating high school, Matt went onto college, as most tend to do. His grades were okay. Not great, but okay. He wound up choosing a community college, but one that had student housing. He loved his family, but like any young man of eighteen, he had a craving for freedom. Freedom, in this case, meant sharing a grubby room with a boy named Daniel, who kept a sack of rice under his bed and a rice cooker where a normal person might keep an alarm clock, and reeked of bad cologne. But it was still freedom. When he wasn't taking non-descript classes for credits in fields he wasn't sure he wanted to work in, he was taking photography classes. One on-campus, and two off. It was no surprise that he enjoyed these far more than his academics. What was surprising, however, was how much he found himself missing his family. He missed his dad's stupid jokes, and the smell of his mother's perfume, and going to Max's soccer games.

    Eventually, even the thrill of setting his own schedule and eating burritos for breakfast wasn't enough to keep him on campus. He got a two-year business degree before deeming himself unfit for higher education. At least higher education on the Lincoln College campus. He called his parents and, with their blessing, moved back home so he could focus on the one thing that made him feel truly alive. His photography. He went back to his old department store job, and when he wasn't working he was taking more classes to improve his skills. Or he was just out, taking pictures. Up at dawn, shooting the dew on the flowers, out until after dark so he could catch owls in the trees. Soon, he got confident enough to offer his services as a photographer around town. He shot his father's forty-fifth birthday party, and his cousin's graduation. He shot his neighbour's wedding, and then his neighbour's sister's baby's baptism. Soon, he was approached by people, sought out and asked to take pictures, rather than offering his services. And it wasn't just birthdays and weddings and holidays; he was approached by the city and asked to take the photos for the new Greenville website. He started selling his work to a few local publications. It was a slow and steady grind, but eventually, he was known around his little city as a competent photographer.

    When he was twenty-five, he left his family's home for the second time. This time, he was moving to Quincy, into a little house that one of his clients was renting out. It wasn't much, but it had laundry and a little yard where he could take pictures of the squirrels that gathered the fallen chestnuts around the base of the big tree that threw shade across half of the house on hot summer afternoons. His foray into domesticity was nudged further when he adopted, on a total whim, a foster dog from the shelter he was doing a job for. She was a runty little mutt of a pup, barely a year old. He named her Nikon, and she became his little tagalong for any shoots he could bring her on. For awhile, he was forced to keep working at that department store. His photos didn't quite pay the bills yet, though they did make a decent dent. And that dent grew, slowly but surely, every month. Ten dollars closer. Then fifty. Then a hundred. It was slow progress, but it was still progress.

  • Adulthood
  • When he was thirty, Matt took the plunge and quit his job at the store. It was a bit scary walking away from it, but he knew that he didn't want to work freelance for the rest of his life, and he certainly didn't want to be a department store lifer. He'd already been working there, on and off, for eleven years. That was enough for him. So he packed up his locker and ate the bakery cake his coworkers brought in for him on his last day, and he made promises to come back to visit. When he left the store after his final shift, and walked into the overly bright afternoon sunshine, it felt almost surreal. And he swears, still to this day, that the concrete parking lot sparkled that day. When he told his parents that he'd quit his steady managerial job and planned on starting up his own photography company, they were less than fully enthused. It wasn't that they didn't believe in him, of course. They just didn't want him to lose the stability he'd managed to set up for himself. It was only when Max spoke up, and told them to relax, and that Matt knew what he was doing, that the relented. It was with their help that he launched his first website. The internet had gotten really big recently, and everyone said that was the best way to advertise and really get his name out into the world. He still printed out business cards, and took out ad space in local newspapers, but the website was his first foray into real professional territory. It also helped that he had a name. Natural Light Photography.

    It was a bit slow-going at first, but that didn't worry Matt overmuch. He knew that new businesses were often slow to start out, and he had made enough of a name for himself in Illinois that he was hopeful that things would pick up soon. For Christmas that year, his parents gifted him with an extravagantly expensive digital camera. Prints were well and good, but not having to pay for film on top of everything he needed to develop the photos was a good way to cut way back on his overhead costs. It was their way of showing their full and complete support of what he was doing. The first photo Matt took with that camera was of the Christmas tree, the focus on his own distorted reflection in one of the shiny glass ornaments. This, of course, led to him taking yet another class. This one was on photo editing, and how to use the vaguely confusing and complicated software his brother bought him to go with the camera. There was no point in taking digital photos, after all, if you weren't going to enhance them in a way that you just couldn't with film.

    It took two years before he could pay all of his bills without going into a bit of overdraft, or depend on credit cards. The first month it happened, and he actually had a hundred bucks or so left, he spent the whole day floating on air. It was the first time he really felt one hundred percent self-sufficient, and it was a great feeling. Sure, he was eating ramen and slightly bruised fruit and vegetables, but it was poor-man's food that he had earned from doing the thing he was passionate about. And besides that, he liked ramen, and his mom's recipe for banana bread was really good.

    His company took off, as he hoped it would. He wouldn't call himself anything close to famous, but he was popular. At least for small-town Illinois. He was as much of a household name in and around Quincy as you could get for... well, for Quincy. He didn't limit himself to only weddings, as some photographers did. He would do everything and anything. Easter egg hunts, first birthday cake smash photoshoots, the grand opening of the new mall. He loved taking pictures, and he loved the people he met doing so. It was the greatest time of his life, and when he actually had to hire an assistant because he was too busy to do everything himself? You might as well have crowned him King of The World for how happy he was.

    By the time he was forty, he had three other photographers working for him, and even had an office in town, with a studio and a tiny darkroom for when he occasionally got nostalgic enough to actually shoot with one of his film cameras. By then, he had become popular enough that when a well-known author who lived in the area needed a new photographer for book jackets and publicity shots, his agent contacted Matt directly. Matt hadn't heard of Tobin Grey, but when he mentioned the name to his mother at Sunday dinner, she had made a strange kind of squeaky sound and jumped up from the table. When she returned, she had a well-loved book in her hands. The Stone House series wasn't like anything he'd ever read, but he enjoyed it enough to read half of the book he'd pried from his mom's hands that night. By the time he had his first meeting with Tobin, he'd read a book and a half, and had something to chat with the author about. Which, as it turned out, hadn't been something he'd needed to worry about. Tobin, for all that he was very much considered a celebrity (especially in their sleepy little part of Illinois), was shockingly down to earth. He apologised for being a little late, explaining that his boyfriend had a pair of three-year-old twins, and it was nearing their birthday. Tobin chattered about the superhero party they were planning, and about his boyfriend (who was, coincidentally, Matt's doctor, which they laughed about), and about growing up in Nebraska. He was warm, slightly goofy, and had a drawling voice and contagious laughter. Matt liked him immediately, and when it came time to send out the proofs, he wound up texting them to Tobin himself, rather than his agent. This, somehow, sparked a friendship that quickly became very dear to Matt. It wasn't long before he was 'Uncle Matty' to Odette and Kadrian, and got himself an invitation to family holidays. He'd never had a friendship like he had with the Hartley family, and it was exactly the thing to make his life feel... perfect.

  • Now
  • Matt still lives in Quincy, though he's moved up from the tiny rental house to something a little nicer, with a better yard. He's on his third rescue dog (a beautiful blue heeler named Tulip) and is just living his best life.

  • Likes

  • Sunsets, classic rock, barbecue chicken that requires a stack of napkins to get through, Tetris, the smell of wet pavement on a warm evening, roller coasters, ice cold lake water, matcha

  • Dislikes