In March 2019, I flew down to Texas to meet and photograph Mati, a well-followed Instagram personality who used to run the IG profile @ mat.i
At the peak of her mobile publishing glory, Mati boasted 600k+ followers.
Mati photographed by Zachary Elliot in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston (March 2019)
From her impression on Twitter and Instagram, Mati seems like trouble.
So, knowing full well that I have a penchant for troublesome females, I decided to ignore the better angels of my nature and send her an email, proposing a photo shoot.
Mati was initially charming, saying over email chatter that of all the photographers who approached her to collaborate, she liked my work the best.
We agreed to shoot 12 different looks over 7 hours and pay her $700 (travel is expensive and I wanted to make it count).
She agreed to bring friends, so she would feel comfortable.
Yes, I?m a gentleman.
No, all male photographers are not like that.
Mati later picked out 5 outfits from Dolls Kill and I paid for them and arranged to have them shipped to her home in Texas.
I arranged for an Airbnb in Montrose, which proved to be a surprisingly artsy neighborhood of Houston (yeah, sorry, Texas makes this urban creature nervous).
Montrose is a hip hood, and has a cool neon sign shop.
I labored over this photo shoot for several reasons. This was the first time I flew to meet a model. Usually, as has been the case with Christina Lucci, Kendra Rowe, and a handful of other high profile models I?ve worked with over the years, I fly them to LA.
Zachary Elliot and Mati
This allows me to stay centered and focused.
Nothing about the state of Texas makes me feel centered or focused.
Also, Mati was 17 when I met up with her and my attorney warned me not to sign a release to get too serious about business with her because her age does not allow the law to be enforced on any paperwork she might sign without parental consent.
Mati showed up late, but did bring the outfits she picked out from Dolls Kill, as well as her two friends.
We shot 35mm film, digital stills, and a bit of b-reel video on my GoPro.
The shoot went down without much drama. Mati is a beautiful and a total character and had some colorful stories that I probably shouldn?t publicly repeat.
A few months later, now in May 2019, I was sitting at the bar at Umami Burger, my usual haunt, when the thought occurred to me to publish the photos and video Mati and I collaborated on.
While my attorney advised against signed a release or becoming contractually engaged with Mati before her 18th birthday, I did some research of my own and found some encouraging legal precedent that led me to feel more confident about publishing pics and video.
- Mati is not naked
- The poses are not overly provocative (Yes, Mati has a curvy, extremely feminine body. No, this isn?t Saudi Arabia, yet)
- Mati picked the Dolls Kill outfits on her own
- I paid for the clothes, her time, and shared a little more money later, showing her consideration
Mati?s initial objection to publishing the first few pics on Reddit had to do with publishing her first and last name.
After arguing over texts for almost an hour, I insisted we finish our convo on a call. We agreed to remove her last name.
I am no stranger to controversey.
I still hope to work with Mati on a bigger digital publishing effort once she turns 18.
After all 5 sets are published on my site CaliStonerGirls.com, there will be no more Mati content from me for awhile, so please stop reaching out.
Mati has a new instagram account here.
Spotted at LAX, upon my return from Houston to collaborate with the notorious Mati