Real Good People: Matt Albiani
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Picture Perfect Montauk Moments With Matt Albiani

Turn onto New York State Route 27, keep driving east and eventually (if traffic cooperates) you’ll reach the (literal) end of the road—Montauk. Although your destination is only a little over one hundred miles from downtown Manhattan, stepping out onto the windswept shoreline, breathing in the salty air and gazing out on an unobstructed view of the Atlantic Ocean that stretches far beyond the horizon will transport you to a totally different world.

This feeling of being someplace close yet far away is exactly what first drew our friend Matt Albiani to the eastern tip of Long Island back in the late 1990s. That, and a place to hang out with friends. “What brought me out to Montauk was a share house,” he recalled.

“I fell in love with Montauk instantly! I couldn't believe a place that was so close to the city felt so many hundreds of miles away. The proximity to the ocean, the temperature and the landscape were really inspiring to me from day one.”

And, he’s been coming back ever since.

We’ve been lucky enough to get to know Matt both personally and professionally. As one of the best photographers in the fashion world, Matt has been capturing the Good Life for our seasonal campaigns for the past five years or so. If you’ve opened up a vineyard vines catalog, walked into a store or visited our site, chances are you’ve seen his work.

"The first time I saw vineyard vines, there was something unique about it. It was different from a typical preppy brand. It was fun, kind of quirky, a little tongue-in-cheek. And for me, that was fun right from the beginning,” Matt said. "What I love about shooting real people is their excitement. Being on set is something that's usually very foreign to people that haven't been there before—they come in wide-eyed and, often, a little uncomfortable at first. It's a joy to see people unwind and relax as the day goes on. Seeing people loosen up and get to the point where they can be themselves on camera, that's really exciting.”

In between Matt snapping pics of our Fall collection, we had a chance to sit back and chat about his connection to Montauk, starting with his inspiration and vision for his endlessly charming abode—Sea Roost.

“As a kid, On Golden Pond was one of my favorite movies, and the lake house that they lived in was such a cool location that always really resonated with me,” he said. “They had little clippings on the walls and old photographs tacked up everywhere. There was dark wood. There were all these textures. All of that was very inspiring.”

Stepping onto Sea Roost’s property, it’s obvious that the setting and aesthetic from the Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn film made a lasting impact. The scene is right out of a movie: situated a stone’s throw from the ocean, the sound of crashing waves serves as a pleasant reminder of your proximity to the water. Mature trees cast shadows across the front porch and provide a sense of solitude, even though it’s only a half-acre lot. Sea Roost is a place that has been carefully designed to help you detach from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. And that’s only the outside.

Heading into the cottages is like teleporting into the quintessential beach home. Matt’s knack for interior design, “very coastal, very warm, very familiar—well worn is probably the best way to describe it,” is accentuated by vintage pieces and estate sale finds from over the years. Combined with the location, it’s hard to step into Sea Roost and not feel a true sense of escape. It’s easy to see why he spends as much time as he can here. (When he can’t make it, Sea Roost is available to rent so that others can enjoy the experience.)

“Our goal for people that visit us is to create a space that really feels comfortable, a space that feels like home, even though they'd never been here before,” he told us. “We love hearing stories of people that come and have the same feelings we have about it. It's been great to be able to share that with people from all over.”

Now that the busy summer is over, the fall season brings a more relaxed atmosphere to the Montauk area. It means smaller crowds at the beaches, less traffic on the roads and a chill in the air, something Matt welcomes.

“My favorite part about Montauk in the off-season is having a fire in the house. We have a fire lit most mornings and evenings, and I love to see the weather and the landscape transition from summer to fall; from fall to winter. It's a great, cozy experience each time.”

“My Every day should feel this good moment is right after the beach, post-shower and before dinner, that period of time normally called ‘cocktail hour,’ When you're hanging out with friends, having some drinks. The light's really beautiful and you're around people that you love. For me, that’s my favorite time of day, every day.”

Check out Matt’s seaside cottage and plan your escape at searoost.com.

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