Covered in a Blanket of Magic

Writer Joseph J. Airdo

Photography by Matt Wilczek

The holidays may officially be over but that does not necessarily mean that the magic of the season is completely gone just yet.

Those of us in the North Valley may recall waking up to a winter wonderland one morning last February. The rare event of snowfall on many of our communities—including Anthem, Carefree, Cave Creek, New River and North Scottsdale—took a lot of desert dwellers off-guard.

The National Weather Service in Phoenix estimated that Tonto Hills in Carefree welcomed 12 inches of snow on Feb. 22 while the area north of McDowell Mountain Regional Park welcomed 9 inches. Further north, Flagstaff was hit by almost 36 inches—a single-day record.

Some children and teens decided to take the day off school while their parents played hooky from work for the seemingly once-in-a-lifetime experience to make snow angels and build snowmen in their very own Arizona backyards.

As a result, social media pages were suddenly filled with pictures and videos of cacti and other elements unique to the usually dry desert landscape covered in a blanket of magic.

Photographer Matt Wilczek was one of those people who jumped at the opportunity to capture the wonderment on camera.

As a nature enthusiast and someone who wants to experience all that our state has to offer while also providing his children the same, Wilczek has made it a point to explore Arizona’s various nooks and crannies—especially on precious days like that one we had last year.

It remains to be seen whether or not lightning will strike twice in consecutive years but we can only hope that Mother Nature graces us with another golden opportunity to gaze out the windows of our homes at something that looks like it is straight out of a holiday greeting card.

If not, we can always travel up north to Prescott or Flagstaff to share in all the beauty of winter. In the meantime, we are honored to feature Wilczek’s snowfall photography in this month’s issue of Images Arizona magazine, reminding our readers that the most magical moments are often unexpected.

Matt Wilczek has always veered toward the techy side of things. In high school, he enjoyed going into media classes and making movies for incoming students and taking photos with his point-and-shoot camera. But, lacking any professional equipment, he stepped aside from the vocation upon graduation.

“I never really looked at it as a career when I was younger,” Wilczek says. “I guess that is why I did not pursue it as much.”

Wilczek took some jobs as a delivery driver but quickly became burned out on always being on the road. So, about 7 years ago, he got his real estate license to help his dad—who has been in the business for more than 20 years.

“I bought a DSLR camera to take photos of my own listings like my dad did,” Wilczek explains. “I learned a couple of things by just watching what he did and then I expanded upon it. I was getting a lot of good feedback from people on my photos so I decided to start up my own real estate photography business.”

That is when the shutterbug officially bit him. Wilczek began seeing photography on Instagram that not only took his breath away but also inspired him to get out and explore Arizona—with his Nikon D7100 in hand.

“I am surprised by so many of the photos that I see on social media,” Wilczek says. “I have lived in Arizona for the 36 years that I have been alive and I did not even know a lot of these places existed.

Today, Wilczek considers himself to be a real estate photographer by day and a landscape photographer by sunset/night. His favorite time of year for taking pictures is Arizona’s monsoon season because he loves the challenge of capturing all the beauty of the storms.

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