The Man Behind The Camera: The journey to becoming Northern Valley’s most well-known photographer
April 6, 2023
If you have attended an NVOT sporting event, there is a high likelihood that you saw a man standing next to a human-sized camera wearing camouflage pants and an NVOT sweatshirt. If you have not attended an NVOT sporting event, you might have seen a picture on Instagram of a Golden Knight athlete watermarked with a name across it: Takashi Matsumoto.
Matsumoto, an auto mechanic who also happens to be a local sports team photographer, quickly made himself a Valley-known name. He began taking pictures for his daughter’s third grade softball team about 14 years ago, and he has continued taking pictures for a number of years and teams since then. Matsumoto said, “As my kids got older, my kids’ friends started playing other sports and asked me to take pictures for them.” Tom Kaechele, the late athletic director at NVOT, first asked Matsmutoto to photograph the school’s sports teams around 2016, which he has continued to do since at both the varsity and junior varsity level.
Photographing sports has also led Matsumoto down other routes. He not only takes pictures for sports teams, his friends, and his family, he also takes “pictures of Harrington Park events like Town Night Out, the fire department’s wetdown, the fishing derby, and so on.” Matsumoto volunteers to take free pictures at town events like these: “it’s a hobby so I’m happy to go.”
By taking pictures, Matsumoto has been able to immortalize moments–especially at NVOT. Girls soccer senior Juliana Morrissey said, “Twenty years from now, we’ll all look back at our camera rolls and the photos that Mr. Matsumoto took and we’ll remember all the feelings we had those days.” Matsumoto captures every emotion, struggle, conflict, high and low for anyone to look back on. Morrissey, who captained a state-sectional winning team this season, added: “His camera has seen the best times of NVOT athletics….every overtime win, celebration, or state championship game.” Whether it be the smallest moment from one’s time at NVOT or a monumental game under the turf’s bright lights, Matsumoto documents these moments for athletes to have forever.
Matsumoto has also been able to connect with the local community by taking pictures. He said, “I love it when little kids say hi to me at high school games.” Though he may only be known by his Instagram username “Gunntaka” to these young children, they—and his pure passion for photography—are why Matsumoto continues doing what he does.
He has also been able to build relationships with parents. No matter if it is a season ending loss or a state championship win at Rutgers, Matsumoto is there to show his support. Parents ask Matsumoto to photograph their children, and now parents get advice from the valuable photographer about taking pictures.
Not only have children and parents grown to love Matsumoto, coaches continue to celebrate Matsumoto and the work he has done for NVOT and the athletic community. Girls Basketball Assistant Coach Christine Massaro said, “‘Mats’ (as we coaches call him) has been an integral part of NVOT sports culture for as long as I can remember.” Coaches have welcomed Matsumoto into teams’ familial bonds for the seven years he has been photographing sports.
Matsumoto has been able to memorialize the most important moments in people’s lives through his photography, yet his work for the community has become so much more than that. Although people do not always recognize the man behind the camera or know who “Gunntaka” is, he documents moments in Northern Valley history that will last forever.