Photographer Mary Ellen Matthews

Ever won­der who does those guest por­traits on SNL when they cut in/out of com­mer­cial? Well it’s actu­al­ly by the tal­ent­ed Mary Ellen Matthews.

Orig­i­nal­ly from the New York area, Mary Ellen Matthews start­ed her career work­ing in film pro­duc­tion and music pub­lic­i­ty. In the ear­ly 1990s, she tran­si­tioned into enter­tain­ment pho­tog­ra­phy when she joined the staff of Sat­ur­day Night Live.

For the past decade and a half, Mary Ellen has been a top enter­tain­ment por­trait pho­tog­ra­ph­er, cre­at­ing col­or­ful, icon­ic images of every well-known per­son­al­i­ty of the age. Her work doc­u­ments the uber-famous in myr­i­ad fields, from pop stars (Brit­ney Spears, Justin Tim­ber­lake, Janet Jack­son) to politi­cians (Al Gore, George Bush, John McCain), sports leg­ends (Tom Brady, Derek Jeter) to rock gods (Mick Jag­ger, U2, Neil Young). Her expe­ri­ence includes film and tele­vi­sion stills and pub­lic­i­ty, adver­tis­ing cam­paigns, celebri­ty wed­dings, and rock tours.

Since 1999, she has been the pho­tog­ra­ph­er for Sat­ur­day Night Live, where she has been respon­si­ble for cre­at­ing (and recre­at­ing each sea­son) the dis­tinc­tive look of the show’s still images. Through cre­ative and play­ful styling and a demeanor that puts her sub­jects at ease-as well as intense post-pro­duc­tion work-she pro­duces unique and rec­og­niz­able por­traits under the man­ic dead­lines of live tele­vi­sion.

Mary Ellen lives and works in New York City and East Hamp­ton.

Mean­while, here are some pho­tos that I’m dig­gin’ from her port­fo­lio1:

Post inspired by Amy Dun­n’s SNL self-por­trait post on Flickr.

  1. You may check out more of her SNL pho­tos by click­ing here. []


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  1. fotoguy

    I fre­quent celebri­ty gallery forums and can always tell a Mary Ellen Matthews pho­to. She has a style that is all her own and I love it! Mary Ellen Matthews is my very favorite pho­tog­ra­ph­er and has been for sev­er­al years. I watch Sat­ur­day Night Live every week and look for­ward to the com­mer­cial breaks to see that week’s Mary Ellen pho­tos. Far too often, they’re bet­ter than the com­e­dy. Thanks for this piece about her!

  2. jon

    mary’s pho­tos are amaz­ing. ive been a long time fan but did­nt know who the pho­tog­ra­ph­er was, now i do and all i want is more. i hope she con­tin­ues for a very long time