Lorene & Justin's wedding should've taken place right in the thick of what was on pace to be my busiest wedding season ever. With the onset of COVID-19 however, it ended up being my first wedding this year, amongst a plethora of unfortunately canceled and rescheduled events.
Thankfully this super easy going couple already had a lot of things working in their favor. Even before the pandemic took hold in the United States, they had a limited guest list predominantly made up of family, and they were getting married at their house. Their day was made up of friends and family pitching in to get everything just so, and the decor was largely of the DIY variety, making for a laid back, intimate, fun affair.
Thank you Lorene and Justin for your trust in me, and your hospitality in welcoming me to your home.
As you may have heard, the world is currently in the middle of a pandemic due to the coronavirus. The thing about novel viruses that nobody seems to fully understand and can be transmitted even by asymptomatic people is that large gatherings are generally a big no-no. Cities, states, and even whole countries have implemented various levels of "lockdowns" and "shelter-in-place" directives in hopes of avoiding overwhelming our healthcare system.
Prior to all of this, my mother-in-law had long been planning a move to Northwest Montana from her long-time home in central Texas. My family, and my wife's sisters and their respective families all now live in this general vicinity, and by extension so do her grandkids. And as any grandparent can likely attest, the pull of being close to your grandchildren is a mighty one. So this spring was always earmarked as the time that made the most sense to put that move into motion for several reasons. Once the coronavirus became a big deal, it changed the math a little on how exactly we would all make this happen. But fortunately when the main things I do to earn a living—namely weddings and motorsport photography, but also family photography to a lesser extent—become banned for all intents and purposes, when your wife comes to you and asks if we can rent an RV to act as a self-contained quarantine mobile, drive four-thousand miles roundtrip, and help her mom pack, I've got nothing but time!
Under any other circumstances, it actually would be a ton of fun I think. Taking our time, stopping at roadside or near-roadside attractions to see things we might otherwise never get a chance to see, and putting together some of my somewhat unique knowledge of small towns in the Texas panhandle to good use (due to my spending almost five years working for the official travel magazine of Texas, Texas Highways.)
But of course, under these circumstances, it was in many ways what I have decided to dub 'a stress pancake.' Between my wife attempting to get work done to salvage what income we do still have during this crazy time, attempting to make progress with my daughter on her take-home work with schools being closed for the year, attempting to drive an RV during a record-breaking late winter storm and 45+ mph crosswinds for 70% of the trip, and packing up the house where my mother-in-law has lived for the past 20 years, and leaving the RV only to pump gas and hook up to power and water at our nightly KOA stops... it was a lot.
While I am not doing my normal work photographing people or events, I am always striving to work on my craft. Whether that is new techniques or forced limitations on my approach. With this trip I wanted to document, it will no doubt provide story fodder for many years to come, and perhaps one day my daughter will have the opportunity to regale her children and/or grandchildren with the story of the time she rode across a country in lockdown in a rented RV with her parents, her cat recently diagnosed with lymphoma, and her two guinea pigs to help her grandmother move. I limited myself to only using my iPhone for capturing and editing everything, and while I didn't take as many photos as I would've liked, and there are large chunks of the trip missed simply because I was driving, I think I did an okay job of capturing a sense of how it all went down.
But out wasn't all exhaustion, driving, stress and "my gosh why is central Texas so hot and humid in mid-April?!" There were moments of magic. Davis' Trading Post (the top image) and the wide open spaces of South Eastern Idaho, the bluebonnets covering the rural roadside's at golden hour in North Texas, talking about what serious art classes were like in college with my daughter and how critiques work. Hopefully those are the things she remembers, and takes away from this crazy endeavor.
Like a lot of states around the country, Montana is now under a 'stay-at-home' order in hopes of combatting the spread of the Coronavirus. Thankfully, prior to that happening I was able to escape with the family to the in-laws in Northern Idaho for some extreme social distancing and some maternity photos in anticipation of another nephew!
Family photos can be tricky with a rambunctious two-year-old and a brother-in-law who sometimes acts like a two-year-old (joking!) but here's a little secret. Silly kiddos are infinitely more stressful on the family—and let's be honest, the mom primarily—than they are for the photographer. Oftentimes my favorite photos from family sessions are when the kid(s) are just goofing off and not following my direction or the pleas of their parents.
Anyway, I can't wait to meet the latest addition to our family, with the hope all of this COVID-19 stuff is largely behind us in a few months and life has returned to some semblance of "normal."
I was fortunate to be included in this fun styled wedding session at North Forty Resort this past weekend. Book of Love Weddings & Events pulled together a bevy of awesome collaborators from My Montana Wedding for this pink-hued, winter inspiration.
It's always a delight to get a call or text from a fellow photographer with an invitation to join them on a styled shoot, no matter how low-key it may be. And that is just what happened with this particular shoot.
Amber—of Amber Lynn Photography—texted me to see if I wanted to head out to West Glacier for a quick styled shoot featuring a cheapo $30 sheer sparkly dress, the Northwest Montana Snow, a fellow photographer—also an Amber—as model, hair, and makeup from Bridal Bliss, and florals from Farm-to-Market Floral. How could I say no?!
For my second time doing portraits of an individual in freezing temperatures in the middle of January, I'm really quite happy with the results.
Numb hands, full hearts, can't lose. This late December engagement session for Anna & Lex was appropriately chilly—considering the time of year—but that didn't stop us from having a great time. I always look forward to sharing Glacier National Park—if even just the tiniest slice of it—with my couples, especially when they've either not been there at all, or only once before a long time ago.
For this engagement session, we started in downtown Whitefish to utilize the postcard-perfect Central Ave. while it was still decorated for the holidays, and then made our way West Glacier and Apgar Village to take advantage of some of the most iconic backdrops in the state of Montana.
Thank you, Anna & Lex, for hanging out with me on the Saturday after Christmas, and I can't wait to party with you and your families this coming August at your wedding!
There are few things more satisfying to a photographer when their clients refer friends and family to you. One thing that comes awfully close though is when a fellow photographer refers their past clients to you in an emergency. The amount of trust involved in such an act is something I take extremely seriously, so when my friend Kiralee texted me after being stricken with the flu to see if I was available to handle some family portraits for Sam and her family when they weren't able to reschedule I was extremely humbled and glad I was able to help her out. On top of that, Sam and her family were a hoot, and it was such a pleasure working with them for some late fall photos.
Every time I find myself at Circuit of the Americas outside Austin, Texas I mentally pinch myself. Mentally because if I were to walk around physically pinching myself that'd just be weird. This past November I had the opportunity to cover my fifth Formula 1 United States Grand Prix for the team at Texas Highways—the official travel magazine of Texas—and I truly can't thank them enough.
When I photographed my first race back in 2015, if I'm being totally honest, I just barely deserved to be there. It isn't that I didn't get some shots that I really, really like, and I was fortunate that my instincts partially gained from photographing weddings and live music events placed me in the right spot at the right time for the podium ceremony where Lewis Hamilton secured his—at the time—third drivers championship, but I just didn't really know what I was doing. I generally had a sense of the format of a Grand Prix weekend, but I didn't follow the sport at the time. Which I suppose meant I was no better or worse off than your typical American when it comes to Formula 1, but still. It also didn't help that Central Texas experienced some truly severe weather that weekend which scuttled basically an entire day of racing and the subsequent photography of said racing.
Fast forward to this year, and Lewis Hamilton secured his sixth driver championship in Austin, and I was very much aware of that storyline—and all of the storylines—of the 2019 season. I'm now the kind of fan that subscribes to the sports streaming service where I can watch every practice session, every qualifying session, and every race live if I choose—or should I say if I can stay up late or get up super early to watch races live that are taking place on the other side of the world.
When working on an editorial assignment for a magazine covering a sporting event, it really helps me hone my skills in quickly culling and editing photos, and turning them around into something of a narrative—if just barely—and publishing them. Going through over six thousand photos from four days, and culling those down to a manageable slideshow number, and writing captions, and having it all ready to go no later than the day following the race is a heck of a skill set to have when I am trying to turn around wedding photos or family portraits, and really helps me provide those photos to my clients more quickly than many other wedding and family photographers.
With all of that said, enjoy some outtakes that simply wouldn't fit in the published gallery over at Texas Highways. And if you've never followed Formula 1, or only done so casually, maybe this will help change your mind and turn you into the superfan I've become.
Did you know that you don't have to be recently engaged in order to get some portraits taken in a beautiful place? It's true! And Windy & James are here to prove it. They came all the way from a "small-town" in Texas—which just happens to be the same small-town my wife grew up in—to spend some time in Whitefish and wanted to commemorate their vacation with just the two of them. They were an absolute delight to work with as briefly strolled through downtown Whitefish and spoke of our favorite places in the Texas Hill Country.
I was so fortunate to be included in this wedding at the summit of Whitefish Mountain Resort. Norman & Tyler had a small wedding with around 70 of their closest friends and family who experienced a gorgeous day where clouds and rain stayed in the forecast the day prior and returned the day after. As you can see that was absolutely not the case during the ceremony. Instead of traditional formal wear, they wore traditional philippine barongs which provided a delightful pop of color into the proceedings and made it difficult to deliver too many black and white photos because they looked so great.