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A stunning photograph taken at sunset over cornfields in Milford, IN, by a young photographer raised there was selected as the Forever stamp to celebrate Indiana’s 200th statehood anniversary.
The 1816 Forever Stamp features a native Hoosier's photograph of a brilliant rural sunset. The image on the stamp was taken by 25-year old Milford native Michael Matti and shows clouds streaming above a cornfield in northern Indiana's Kosciusko County.
"This has to be one of the highlights of my career thus far," said Matti. "It is truly an honor to have my work immortalized on a forever stamp."
Matti, today an adventure and travel photographer, grew up in Milford and had driven past that view hundreds of times until one day he decided to pull over, stand on top of his car, and take in the beautiful sunset.
“I was home from Wesleyan University for the summer and on my way back to Milford from a friend's house in Warsaw when I pulled over and took this photo of the sunset,” explained Matti.
“I drove by this road every day to Lakeland Christian Academy, so I had seen this view hundreds of times. On this particular evening, the sky just lit up and produced this remarkable sunset. I couldn't resist pulling over, standing on top of my car, and snagging this photo.”
Matti grabbed the shot July 22, 2012, on the corner of W 1100 N and 15, just south of Milford. He used a Canon EOS 60D camera and a Canon 10-22mm lens. The shot is a blend of three photos taken in rapid succession at different exposures to capture details near the bright sun as well as in the shadows of the corn. One shot was at normal exposure, the second was two f-stops underexposed and the third was two f-stops overexposed. The three were merged and blended together in Photoshop to create the final image.
The U.S. Postal Service receives about 40,000 suggestions for stamps each year, yet only about 25 topics make the cut. To have one’s work appear on a stamp is extremely rare. Art director Derry Noyes of Washington, DC, designed the stamp with Matti’s existing photograph.
In collaboration with the United States Postal Service, a first day of issue ceremony was held on June 7, 2016 in the Indiana Statehouse at 10 a.m. Indiana Governor Mike Pence helped dedicate the stamp.
“In our state’s bicentennial year, it is altogether fitting that we memorialize the occasion with the issuance of the Indiana Statehood Forever Stamp, which so vividly captures the beauty of rural Indiana,” said Governor Pence, who joined the Postal Service in dedicating the stamp. “Its image will tell of Indiana’s unique beauty as it’s sent to untold locations around the country and around the world. As the sun sets on Indiana’s first 200 years of history, we look forward to a new dawn that builds on the vision cast over our last two centuries.”
“What better place to unveil the Indiana Statehood stamp than here in the Indiana Statehouse,” said U.S. Postal Service Great Lakes Area Vice President Jacqueline Krage Strako in dedicating the stamp. “Since 1887, decisions made inside this spectacular building have helped to shape the land, people, and culture of the Hoosier State and the country. In the coming weeks and months, we anticipate that Post Offices across Indiana will greet many customers who are thrilled at the opportunity to affix a piece of their state’s history to the upper right corner of every piece of their mail. This stamp belongs to everyone. It belongs to history enthusiasts, art admirers, nature photographers, and those who are simply captivated by Michael Matti’s sunset imagery.”
Joining Governor Pence and Krage Strako in dedicating the stamp were stamp photographer Michael Matti; Indiana First Lady Karen Pence; Historian Jim Madison; Bicentennial Commission Co-Chair Becky Skillman and Indiana Bicentennial Executive Director Perry Hammock. Miss Indiana 2015 Morgan Jackson sang the national anthem and the Indianapolis Children’s Choir provided renditions of historic Indiana songs. There was a display of historic Indiana stamps inside the Indiana Statehouse.
For more information on the Indiana Statehood Forever Stamp see below press release:
United States Postal Service. (2016). Hoosier State's Bicentennial Celebrated on Forever Stamp [Press Release]. Retrieved from https://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2016/pr16_048.htm