RIP Matt Dawson

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It is with heavy heart that we share the passing of our dear friend and compatriot Matt Dawson. Matt D was a hero to many and a legend to all. 599165_10151087024222680_1214789395_n

Matt Dawson humanized the game of paintball and shed new light on the sport we all love. Rather than take the easy money and make big brands bigger, Matt re-focused the spotlight on the players. Matt made you a brand of your own.

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No stranger to hardship, Matt D bled, sweat, and fought through the constant roller coaster that professional paintball presented. Through hard work and dedication he rose through the ranks and ultimately upped the proverbial ante in the industry.

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Matt D was one of the founding members of ProPaintball and helped both realize and set our vision. When the industry crashed, and PGi moved on, Matt didn’t shy away. Instead, he doubled down. In addition to lending his creative talent and energy to ProPaintball, he launched a magazine of his own. His mag, FeatureThis, went on to feature the best of the best. FeatureThis kept the spotlight on those who continued to struggle week after week in order to be the best of the best in professional paintball.

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Matt D playing with pro team Newport Entourage at UWL. Photo: Michael Wise II/Chrono300

Matt Dawson, you were a true friend and one of the crew. This PBR tall can and sack of BBQ seeds are for you brother. Matt D, we salute you.

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**Please share your thoughts and memories of Matt in the comments below.

***Check out his work on MattDPhoto.com

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Comments

  1. Camille Lemanski

    Any PSP promo piece that came out in 2009 and 2010 included photos from Matt. Although he was absolutely adorable in person – always smiling even at hot disgusting mid-July paintball events – he was also one of the most professional people I have worked with in our industry over the past 15+ years. My heart goes out to his family and loved ones. I only wish I would have known him better. Rest in peace MD.

  2. Rusty Glaze

    Matt Dawson was a friend of mine. He was such a good person with a positive attitude, I never heard him talk negative about anyone. During his time at school, I often gave Matt freelance work for Valken. He was a great talent in both photography and design and did whatever it took to get the job done, usually involving a lot of energy drinks. Matt D will be missed, it is a sad day to see someone like Matt pass. He was an original.

  3. Christopher Dilts

    In the decade I worked as a photographer in the paintball industry (at P8NT and PGI, and for a variety of Dan Napoli projects) there were only a handful of photographers I met that I thought got it, were trying to do something bigger than “paintball photography”, and treated the sport and scene as something worth documenting. They looked at each event, and the gaps between them, as stories to be told. Luis Salcedo from DYE. Romain Manière at Facefull. Brandon Showers who did work for PGI and Tippmann. And Matt. These guys seemed like the sport, and the players, were a canvass for their creativity, to tell stories, document what no one saw, make art.

    Matt was coming in and coming up right when I was moving on to other kinds of photo work. After P8NT folded I was “homeless” at events and I’d stage out of the back of the DerDer booth with him, piles of camera’s, masks, and paper towels, trying to keep our gear clean and working. Stealing Rob and Catfish’s beer. Bullshitting. Complaining about field layouts and how they made our job hard. He was a quite guy, but funny and focused, and I respected his work, and never tried to jack his shot when he saw something I didn’t.

    He was a real talent. Not just a guy with a camera pushing a button.

  4. wojo

    Matt, you will forever be in our hearts. No words can express the loss we all feel, rest in peace brother, one day we will all be together again.

    KooK RmE till the end

  5. A Tholey

    I always looked forward to chatting with Matt and seeing him at events. He was always so down to earth. One of the best artists to grace the game. Rest in peace brother. You will be missed.

  6. TYLER HARMON

    WE ALL LOVE YOU MATT!! Thank you for being such a bright beacon of light for our industry and always being someone I could count on to make me smile :) you and I shared a lot of smiles and laughs over the years that will live on in my heart for all eternity brother. I’ll carry you with me throughout life and never forget your golden light. Always in my heart. Never forgotten. Love you King

  7. Christ

    Matt was the photographer that guys from the East dreamed of getting shots from. He was one of the most genuine and loving person in this meat grinder that is paintball. Matt shot the photos he wanted to shoot and always kept it about the players. He would go out of his way to shoot the guys that were his friends. He featured out team in one of the first FEATURETHISPB.COM spreads, it was heartfelt and awesome, like Matt. The world has lost a great talent, and we have lost a great friend.

    1-2-3 Kook rme.

    Love from the East brother.

  8. Raney Stanczak

    Matt Dawson is someone I always looked forward to seeing at the field, he was always a fun person to talk too, and never had a bad attitude. I was recently talking with Robbie Sneaks about aftermath in its prime and how MattD was a huge piece of that teams existence. He was pretty much there everyday we were, he was one of us. If Matt missed a practiced I would question him like a teammate and demand a valid excuse. Matt not only had a passion for photography, but for the game of paintball. In 2006 I had the pleasure of playing a xpsl tournament up in San Jose with him. We didn’t win, but we took a respectable 4th place and for a last minute throw together team, that is pretty damn good. I can honestly say Matt held it down, rocking his old school original intimidator with dual regs. We had a great time all jammed into one hotel room in the middle of nowhere, telling war stories about our glorious moves and kills we had made throughout the tournament.

    Matt you are just a down right good hearted individual. I will miss you my friend.

  9. Avatar of Brandon MasonBrandon Mason

    You’ve been a catalyst for the best in each and every one of us; no day will ever pass without us recognizing it. Truth be told, there’s not one story I could tell to properly articulate how great of a man you were to everyone you came in contact with, including myself.

    Kyle pointed this out without hesitation..Neil Young will never stop jammin’ on your behalf. Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World, brother.

    Save me a seat in Paradise, I’ll bring the man soda and seeds.

  10. Brandon Showers

    One of my real and true friends, through everything from NPPL, PSP, XPSL, and beyond. No matter how grueling the event would be, I knew I would always have a friend by my side to share in the art and sarcasm to make the days go by a bit quicker and put a smile on my face.

    Matt’s creativity and imagination was that of a true artist which is the most sincere praise that I can give anyone. The passion that he had for the game of paintball was translated through his art and put on display for everyone to bear witness. I looked forward to seeing his images and a fresh perspective on the game. Matt helped to define the image of the sport and inspired a new generation of players and fans alike. He captured an intensity to the game that could only be shot by a true photographer. His taste for imagery was exquisite which was showcased in his work across the industry.

    I will never forget…

    …staying with PGI and rooming with Pete Robinson for a week.

    …eating sunflower seeds until our gums were sore.

    …creating an endless supply of humorous and sarcastic remarks.

    …playing energy drink golf in Omaha.

    …feasting on Tri-tip sandwiches at XPSL

    …being the last people on the field to capture the sunset at the end of the day.

    The Marty to my Doc, the Goose to my Maverick, the Luke to my Han… I will forever miss you my friend.

  11. Avatar of Kyle JohnsonKyle Johnson

    To describe Matt Dawson in a matter of sentences is impossible.

    Matt was more then a friend to us, he was family. He didn’t always have something to say, but when he did, we all listened. One of the smartest and most creative guys in any room. Matt worked for himself, and we all knew that.

    If you were fortunate enough to get photographed by Matt, consider yourself one of the luckiest people in the sport of paintball. Without Matt, I wouldn’t be a professional photographer today. Matt’s always been one of my biggest inspirations.

    To you, my brother: thank you for everything. I can’t describe how much you’ve meant to me.

  12. Aaron Wayman

    Matt, I miss you so much already, you have been there with my since 6th grade. From the Friday nights at my house eating pizza and having you horde the computer to play beach-head, or accidentally lighting the field on fire with a model rocket. to spending the night at your house so we could play Friday night ” night games” at jungle you have always been there. We would rode our dirt bikes in the fields by my house and talked about the upcoming supercross season and who would win and looking forward to the next weekend of tearing it up. Then came paintball. I remember sitting at your house messing around with our right feed autocockers, talking about epic walk on stories like they were badges of honor. Time went on guns changed, hoppers changed tanks changed, but our love of going to Adrenalin on Friday nights or Jungle on Saturday to play ” Advanced walk ons” only grew. We even took jobs at JI and Adrenalin for some money but mostly free entry and free air ( Jackpot for some broke high school paintball kids). I remember the first time you brought your camera out to a day Adrenalin game and took pictures; it was even a film camera at that; and you developing those pictures and how awesome we all felt. Time went on we tore up the walk on fields, and I remember when you landed that freelance job with WARPIG, and getting to go take pictures of pro paintball players, or how stoked you were when you got your first digital camera. And how I would take the camera and hold down the shutter and take a million pictures of nothing just for your uploading enjoyment. Time went on still and you landed more and more photo gigs, and started your own website and were forever known as MATTDPHOTO. I still cant say your name without adding DPHOTO at the end. Then we started playing XPSL as Thunderkids, and how awesome we felt to actually play tournaments. Practicing at JI, and when practice seemed boring, going and playing those epic 7 on 50 walk on games. Time went on and paintball took a back seat to school and other activities. Hanging out in front of Nickis house and drinking man soda and eating cheese puffs, snowboarding and within the last few years hunting. But those paintball roots and memories never left, and I realized this the day we started snap shooting at quail with our shotguns, and calling G1 G2… on our dove counts. There are more memories than I can count, and I cherish them all. I miss you already matt, I will never forget the times we spent together, and the influence you had on my life. I am sad that we no longer get to continue to make memories, but knowing that you are walking with Jesus eases my pain.

    My prayers go out to everyone that knew matt, his family and his friends. Let us remember Matt as the amazing person he was. Miss you buddy.

  13. Saucey

    Getting the call this morning from Kyle came in total disbelief. It only took about a minute after getting off the phone to process that this was real. About 10 minutes later I left work to join up with Brandon and Kyle in the only way we knew the toast you good bye properly… Man Soda and numerous packs of BBQ Sunflower seeds.
    I can still remember getting my first MattD photo and how honored I was to be one of the few images you would release an event. It didnt matter if I had the 7am set or the 5pm games I would still see that grey alpine star vest crouched on the side of the field with fresh set of welts, a pocket full of seeds and still a smile from ear to ear. You loved what you did and it showed in your work. You have left the paintball community with images and stories that will last a lifetime.

  14. Randy Cool Beans

    First photographer to actually BE one of the boys. He knew all of us. He knew all of us pixel by pixel. And we knew him. He was organic. The legendary MattD.

  15. Don Besancon

    I wish I could capture the words and feelings that I’ve experienced since hearing of Matt’s passing-but they fail to give his spirit the recognition and respect that it deserves. Matt had unbelievable, radiant talent that was evident in all those that share his memory. He was a smiling, brilliant, unwavering soul.

    I feel fortunate that I was able to know Matt for so long–when I first Matt, we played paintball together as teenagers. We grew up together, and matured together, as men and professionals. I had the pleasure of knowing Matt in many ways; as a kid, a teammate, a friend, and later, as a professional colleague.

    I was always envious of Matt. He had a gift that few possess, and he was always so humble about his brilliance. He had vision, he had soul, and he had a dangerous combination of unbridled talent and insurmountable work ethic. His work in our industry was as iconic as it was innovative–he turned a simple weekend hobby into a visual epic, and turned simple paintball players into larger-than-life heroes. His pictures didn’t capture the field, or its players–they embodied the spirit and told legends that would otherwise only exist in our fond memories.

    I give thanks to Matt’s family and friends for helping create a man that I am proud to call my friend. He was simply extraordinary, and I was so fortunate to share in the memories I have with Matt.

    Farewell, Matt.

  16. Stephen

    Matt was one of the first true artists in paintball photography. He was an inspiration to an entire generation of photographers and was, hands down, one of the top guys to ever step on a field with a camera. We lost a good one today, but I’m greatful for what he has given to us as a community.

  17. Harrison

    Didn’t personally know him but he made a huge impression on the world of paintball and he followed his heart for the sport. Much respect and rest in peace! Thank you everything you’ve done, Matt.

  18. Paul Ciesiun

    Tragic day for his family, friends, and those that were fortunate enough to have known him in paintball….my many sympathies to all of those affected. RIP Matt…

    Paul Ciesiun

  19. Jonathan gavin

    reading your comments to matt sent chills down my spine, because that is a well written comment and last year my friend with the same name as you was killed. i know ill right now im just a random guy but it is just really kinda freaked me out, to see someone with the same name,

  20. Chris, Lorrie, Jessica, Amy Dawson

    My Family and I are so blessed to see the outpouring of Love for Matthew. It is through God’s promises and faithfulness that we are getting through this tough time. All of your stories, and well wishes bring to light the joys of Matthew’s life. We can not let the darkness cast a shadow on the light he shed on all of us. He is a wonderful, amazing, caring, funny, protective brother and son. We ask for your continued prayers for comfort. The Lord has given me confidence that he loves all of us and I have the Lord’s confidence that he knows he is loved by many. No question about it. He is in Heaven with the Father and is at peace. He is at peace.

    We will have an open service and hope to fill that church until it is busting out of its seams. Details to follow. Thank you all again. You are now a part of our journey and a part of our hearts.
    -Amy Dawson

  21. Alex Hong

    I remember Matt taking wonderful and amazing photos back when I use to play paintball. Just found out tonight that Matt was a professing Christian who loved the Lord Jesus from a fellow church member at our prayer meeting. I’m comforted in the fact that He is with the Lord Jesus Christ in eternal paradise and will one day see him in heaven.

    [13] But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. [14] For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
    (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)

  22. Ronnie Filippone

    Matt you will forever be missed and your work will never be forgotten. I have files upon files of pictures Matt has taken, from back before SD Aftermath days. When Matt was still learning photography and us 14-16 year old kids would all drive out on a Wednesday or Thursday night to Temecula CA to play at two crappy outdoor hockey rinks filled with gravel called adrenaline sports. Much like Raney Stanczak said Matt Dawson was one of us he was a teammate to all and while slowly making a name for himself over the many years he worked in the paintball industry he also single handedly helped create and make many young local paintball players famous from his photography. A lot of the So Cal professional paintball players are still in the spotlight today and names are known around the paintball industry because of his dedication to his friends and his countless hours spent editing and capturing a players perfect move or perfect shot. This can never be summed up into words, and we all will forever owe Matt Dawson for allowing us the spotlight and media attention while he stood in the rain, mud, or extreme heat getting shot to shit for a glimpse of what all paintball players alike strive for, that 15 seconds of fame or to say Matt picked my picture out of the thousands he would take in a tournament weekend for whichever magazine or website he was working for at the time. I love you Matt!!! We will always rember you and the paintball industry has lost yet another wonderful, passionate, and extremly talented individuals, known mainly as MATTDPHOTO.
    Miss you buddy and I know you will look out for us.
    -C.M.C (cash money crew) old school!!! I know you know what I’m talking about Matt. One day we will all reunite my friend, one day.

  23. Alex

    I didn’t know Matt in the Paintball world. He actually worked for me and his cousin at our side business in the weekends. He was always on top of things and we never ever had to worry about him. He loved what he did in the paintball world and I was really proud of how creative he was with his design work. Really shocked at the news and my prayers go out to his family, friends, and everyone he touched here.

    Rest in Peace Matt. You’ll be missed.

    AlexL

  24. Garrett Mendes

    Can’t Believe Your Gone Buddy! I’ll Never Forget All Those Friday Nights We Spent Playing/Reffin At Adrenalin And The Jungle! You Really Where An Amazing, Fun, Chill Kid To Be Around. You Always Knew How To Lighten The Mood And Make People Laugh. Such Good Times We Had, Almost Rolling The Gator While Offroading On Outback After A Scenario Game When We Were Supposed To Be Picking Up Trash. Or The Day “Team Aqua Monkeys” Was formed When We Army Crawled Threw The River On Amazon While Get Super Sick With Our Rental Tippmann 98′S & Just About Everyone Of Us Lost Our Guns In The Water! You Were Such An Amazing Soul, My Thoughts Go Out To YOu & Your Family. May You Rest In Piece Old friend

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