Vanelli travels across the country, talking to some of the top photographers in the field as they share their experiences while shooting on set. You’ll soon learn that even season professionals encounter roadblocks during photo shoots. By staying calm under pressure, they rely on their skills to overcome these obstacles to capture an amazing shot. Sit back, relax and enjoy a Story from the Set.

Entertainment and stock photographer Mat Hayward shares a story on how–by moving away from other photographers–he nailed an amazing shot of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke. He also shares how Adobe Stock has helped him supplement his income.

Be Where the Other Photographers Are Not

Mat is well known for getting “that shot” most photographers miss. He doesn’t want the same shot the 12 other photographers have. He would just as soon take a chance and go where the action isn’t, but be where the photographers aren’t. A lot of times, he gets pretty lucky—something will happen and he’ll get a unique shot that no one else has. Mat admits this is risky.

Capturing Radiohead’s Thom Yorke

Mat knew Thom Yorke doesn’t engage with photographers very often. He was singing a song called Full Stop, and all the photographers were all right in front of him—so Mat went to his right and was off by himself. He had a long, 70–200mm lens and stayed on Thom as he sang, “you’ve really messed up everything” and all of a sudden he opened his eyes—his eyes have been closed—and he turns his head and he just stared right at Mat and he says “you really messed up everything.” Mat snapped the picture. It was pretty intense.

Stock Photography

Mat has been shooting stock for well over 10 years. He was working in restaurants and shooting weddings on the side. He was getting started and had some clients who had a low budget, so he would work it out that if they would sign a model release and agree to let me post their images on stock, he would give them a discount. … It’s been 10 years since he’s shot a wedding, but those pictures that he shot back then are still generating income. He made more than he ever would have made charging full price, so it really worked out well. And it got him hooked on shooting stock, so when he has free time, he sets up stock shots whenever he can.

Landing a Job with Adobe Stock

Mat managed restaurants, and that was a full-time job. But he always managed to find time for photography—it’s a good excuse to take pictures of his kids, his wife, his dog and things like that—and he’d upload them and found some pretty good success. As the years went on, he found more success and focused on shooting stock.

He eventually left the restaurant business, after 20 years, and—the very next day—was hired by for customer service. About a year later, Adobe acquired and they welcomed the Fotolia team with open arms and have been incredible—turned out to be the best company he has ever worked for.

A Stock Photographer working for a Stock Agency

When Mat talks about the benefits of Adobe Stock, he’s talking from a photographer’s standpoint. He speaks the language and he knows what the pain points are for photographers. He knows the obstacles and the challenges and he is able to communicate with other photographers that have the same challenges. He helps them find workarounds because he found workarounds himself. As an added benefit, he can communicate to Adobe and help implement changes.


Mat can be found online at or @mathaywardphoto on Instagram

Stories from the Set is published weekly and you can see them all right here.