The 4th of July weekend was a busy one to say the least. My 40th birthday, a trip to the lake, family in town, and a quick trip north to the Garden of 1000 Buddhas and the 117th annual Arlee Powwow. (117 ...damn!). I haven't been to this powwow for years, but I have been itchin' to get there with my camera for a while now. Such colorful and personal image opportunities.
This past weekend marked the opening of phase 2 of the Big Sandy, MT skatepark. Last year, I wasn't able to make it to the much heralded Big Sandy weekend. But after hearing the stories and seeing how much fun was had, I knew I had to go this year ... 4+ hour drive, precious little sleep, 100+ degree temps, and mosquitoes be damned! The park was super fun and it was great to connect with people from around the state while watching some insane skateboarding.
The introduction to Pep's, nearly 5 a.m. bedtime, and soul-sucking temperatures really zapped my energy and motivation, but I was able to get a few images from the weekend though. Here's a few.
all images ©Andrew Kemmis
For 10 years now The Montana Skatepark Association has held its annual skateboard art auction, called ON DECK, to raise funds to help Montana communities build concrete skateparks. Myself, along with a couple of friends, started the MSA in order to get a park built in Missoula. We accomplished that goal, and since have helped in some way or another in towns including St. Ignatius, Helena, Glendive, and are currently working with Stevensville.
I have had the pleasure of photographing the custom built works of art since the inception of ON DECK. Photographing between 30 and 50 decks is a chunk of work, and presents 30 - 50 unique challenges, but all in all it is always a terrific experience. ON DECK 10, which went down on May 1 was a huge success - we raised over $20,000 for skateboarding. Damn!
To see the decks included in this year's auction, check out montanaskatepark.org/ondeck.
I had a chance to spend a few days in Seattle last month. I was there for a photo workshop, which was a fantastic experience, which is still very vivid in my mind. Before and after the course, I got to do one my absolute favorite things: arrive in a new place and stroll around aimlessly looking for compositions. I made what I could of the time I had. Here's a couple.
It might have been about 15 degrees outside, but conditions were great inside skating the Bass Bowl last weekend. Here's a couple shots of Randy and Keenan.
I've been working on pulling together a new site lately. While I am really liking the new platform, and the way images are displayed, learning a new system has its challenges.
I'm pretty darn honored today to be able to share this. As of the wee hours of this morning, I am featured on the Photographers Breakthrough website as the Winter 2014 breakthrough artist. Photographers Breakthrough is a photography education site run by two photographers and photo educators, Tony Rizzuto and Elizabeth Stone. I know both Tony and Elizabeth through Rocky Mountain School of Photography, where I have worked for the past eight years. In fact, it was Tony who interviewed me back then, as he was RMSP's curriculum director at the time. Both Tony and Elizabeth are outstanding photographers and have great reputations in the photo / photo education worlds, which makes it even cooler that they recognized me on their site. I encourage you to check out a selection of my images featured in an e-book on their site, and read my answers to some of the questions they threw my way. If you do, let me know what you think in the comments below.
With 2013 in the books and 2014 already looking to be as good or better, this might be considered just another obligatory end-of-the-year blog post. Sorry 'bout that. Nonetheless, I have been wanting to sit down and scratch out a few thoughts and comments on the year that just ended ... for my sake as well as yours. And because merely putting my fingers to the keyboard to recap the last chapter and focus on the next one just feels good. I'm going to cheat a little and start in September of 2012 when I finished shooting a creative project with my friend Lando (see here, here and especially here). Less than 48 hours later I took a rather decisive left turn by beginning a time intensive (200 hour), work-heavy and mentally-taxing Wilderness EMT course offered through Aerie Backcountry Medicine. I received training in swiftwater rescue, improvised litter constructing in the backcountry, mass casualty responding and a ton of emergency medical scenarios. I also spent time on the ambulance and in the ER. At the end of it all, I emerged as a (mentally and physically exhausted) nationally certified EMT. Why did I do this? The reasons are many, but at the top of the list is simply being a smarter and more prepared individual. Also, diving into something that was NOT photo related helped me see things in a different light and reminded me just how much I enjoy photography.
Three weeks following my EMT course, when I had barely caught up on my sleep, my wife and I had our first child. Esti Fallon Kemmis was born at 9:23 a.m. on December 21, 2012. The months following this day were a roller coaster of emotions and the kind of happiness that makes a person cry. Adjusting to life with Esti has been so damn cool that I have to pinch myself sometimes. Yes it's stressful, exhausting, nerve-wracking, mind-blowing, tiring and challenging, but if there were ever something to make a person feel like they were living life, having a kid is it.
As 2013 marched on, so did the projects. Every month of the year saw 2 or 3 Lando shoots get completed for the 2014 calendar. In March, I also photographed 40+ custom art skateboards for the annual On Deck art show I help put on through my work with the Montana Skatepark Association. I have photographed the decks for this show pretty much since we started doing it eight years ago.
In May I assisted Portland-based photographer Dan Root during Missoula's (in)famous Maggotfest. This is a several-day-long beer drinking tournament with a little bit of rugby thrown in for good measure. Photo-ops are endless and the characters that descend upon Missoula from all over the world do not mess around. It was great working with Dan and ultimately seeing his finished product on his site. He's got a great eye, and had a crystal clear vision for the images he wanted to create. Seeing this in action was a good reminder that vision is everything.
I gained a new client in 2013 in Adventurista Designs, a Missoula-based jewelry company. Ironically enough, this spawned out of a friendship I made in my above-mentioned EMT course. Originally, Adventurista wanted some images for use in a booth at a trade show in Salt Lake City. By the end of July I had created lifestyle images and product images from a couple different shoots. These images ended up being used at the trade show and throughout a lookbook ... which I also designed for them. All around, this was a great experience and a lot of fun. Most of all, I am proud of the outcome.
Somewhat uncharacteristic for me, I photographed two weddings in 2013. Weddings are not my forte', but in both situations, the pieces came together seamlessly and it made sense for me. Looking back at the images that I delivered to each couple, I almost think I should be doing more of this work. I genuinely had a good time doing the work and really, really like the results. Not to mention, when one of the brides told me that she had a living room full of family over to view the images for the first time, and everyone ended up crying, it made me feel good. It's a nice reminder that even though I look at thousands of images in a year, not every one does. And it's the content and the impact an image has on a viewer that determines its quality. Subjective and powerful.
2013 also saw me continuing my work for the Montana Council of Boy Scouts. "Incredible" is all I can say about the relationship that has grown between myself and the BSA. They have placed a ton of trust in me for two years running, and I believe the images and results speak for themselves. Thanks to my images, the images of another couple of photographers in Montana, a talented designer and a quality development director at the BSA, the MT Council won numerous awards for the quality of their marketing materials as compared to other councils in the US. Considering the numbers and budgets of larger councils, our team has scored a solid victory. I look forward to many, many more shoots - both still and video - with the BSA.
Aside from the above mentioned highlights to my year, I also had numerous images published in local outlets. I have been fortunate enough to work with The Missoula Independent, the Missoula Downtown Association, Destination Missoula, Five Valleys Land Trust, Missoula Economic Partnership and a few other local and regional organizations. Key word in that sentence, by the way, is fortunate.
There were many, many, many more moments that added to my 2013 being one of the most progressive, monumental years of my life, but I have to chop it off here. As I said at the beginning of this post, 2014 is looking to be as good or better. So, to that I say ... onward!
I am guilty. I have been cheating on my blog with another blog. With the self-induced fanfare around the Lando 2013 calendar lately, my typey-type efforts have been going on over at lando406.com on that blog in hopes of building some buzz around the project.
It's mid August in Missoula, MT and that means only one thing to an ever-increasing number of partiers, rockers, floaters, barbecuers and good-time-havers: It's TOTAL FEST TIME! Having photographed this gem of an event for the past several (4? 5?) years, I am stoked to see that one of my images has wriggled its way onto the cover of this week's Missoula Independent. The shot is of No-Fi Soul Rebellion front man Mark Heimer doing his thing in the crowd at the Badlander. Seeing this cover gets me excited for this year's line up of bands. Especially some little known, soft rock emo band by the name of Red Fang.
I just wrote a big long post about this image and how much I love it, and how it connects me to several things I also love, but then deleted it. Because really all I want to do is show off an image I am proud of and that makes me happy to look at.
A photo I took on the opening night of Total Fest X made it into the Missoula Independent this week. It's a shot of Dane Hansen, aka Bad Naked, making a huge mess of the Top Hat's floor and himself. The text beneath the photo is a Pro/Con type discussion about Bad Naked's "art." Near the beginning of his performance (or rather ... "performance") he tore into the paper mache whale he had on stage. I think ballons and candy were involved. Then, out came the fruit. Yep, wet, messy, sticky, gross, doesn't-belong-in-a-bar fruit. Some revelers were giddy with smiles thinking how cool it was. Others, like the people that work really, really hard to organize the event and the volunteers that had to clean up after him weren't so smily.
Personally, I thought the spectacle was barely more than that ... a spectacle, and I'm really glad my camera didn't get banana'd. Also, the music sucked.
Seeing how this post is going up on January 30 and it's about 25 degrees and snowing outside, I can't help but get a little nostalgic for last summer when I created these images for the Montana Council of Boy Scouts. The assignment was to create a body of work of scouting images to be used in the BSA's marketing materials. The location? That would be Melita Island on Flathead Lake in Montana. Spending a few days on an island, in a very impressive rock and timber lodge, in July in Montana with amazing images unfolding everywhere I looked was a great experience. Now that the images are out in the world, I can share a few here. The first printed piece I have seen with my images is the MT BSA 2013 calendar. (Needless to say, it is verrrrry different from the other calendar I produced in 2013.) It was designed by Eubank Creative. Overall the print quality and design are fantastic. It really hits me when my images end up in the hands of creative, capable designers and reminds me how much they can jump off a page when treated right. I am definitely looking forward to ongoing projects with the MT BSA after this one.
Another product that came out of the assignment was a promo video which features the Melita Island Camp and the K-M Camp near Lewistown, MT. Shooting video is definitely brand new to me, but is quickly becoming an important piece of the puzzle. I was very fortunate to have a good team to help me on this one, specifically Lou Ghaddar, who handled the editing. Check out the video on Vimeo here.
What a fun and funny ride this whole Lando project of mine has been. What started as a way to capture some zaniness and odd behavior of a friend has turned into something a bit more. Lando and I were interviewed by the Missoulian last Wednesday for an article they wanted to run about the calendars. Needless to say, we obliged. We were shocked, but we obliged. You can read the article here. When we began this thing, we didn't expect anyone to really care, but now that we have had two newspaper interviews, some radio time, and a gang of social media buzz, our eyes are wide open. With most of our inventory sold, we are encouraged about the future of this project. I have a pretty solid plan for the 2014 calendar and hope to beef up the product line a bit too. Greeting cards, postcards, prints, posters ... they're all in mind. Plus, Lando and I have been brainstorming some bigger and better goals as well. We'll see. Regardless, this experience has been fun and affirming to me as a photographer. Naturally (and obviously), the spotlight has been on Lando from the get go. But I have been on the periphery of that light enjoying the fruits of my labor and learning a thing or two along the way. Sure it's a goofy "thing" to have done, but I am very much looking at it through the eyes of a serious photographer too. And just like the gallery show I had a few years ago, which produced a few nice jobs, I trust the Lando project will generate some more work for me as well.
Onward ... with high hopes.
And so it begins... For the past umpteen months, I have been working, ahem ... "working" on a project with a big, loud, weird friend of mine named Lance. He goes by Lando. He's a character to say the least. We decided to capture and present to the world many different looks of Lando and package them up, calendar style. With many, many nights and weekends spent shooting photos of things that make certain people cringe, kick ass help from our web developing friend and lots of eye rolling from others, we have officially launched Lando406.com, and have pulled the trigger on ordering the first run of Lando 2013 calendars. 12 months of half-baked photos of a big dude doing big things: mountain biking on an exercise bike, loving cats, and getting whooped at tennis.
If you are in or near Missoula on November 2, 2012 we will be having a First Friday-type opening and sales event of the calendar at Stockman's Bar on Front street.
I love having a personal photography project going on. There are many identifiable stages of the process, and right now, being at or near the completion stage, is always a good feeling and an even better reminder of why its important to keep at it. Laughter, happiness, accomplishment and all around good feelings are the reason to keep pressing on. We'll see how "successful" this project is in terms of being a money maker. But even if it falls flat, I've created something, and at this point it can''t be undone. It's out there and can't be taken back. Onward.
My photo of national champion face puncher Amy Sowers got some real estate in the Fall 2012 issue of Distinctly Montana Magazine that is on stands now. It's great to see Amy get a bit of the spotlight given how damn hard she works. Nice job Amy!
I love those moments when you know - without hesitation - that there is no place else you would rather be and nothing else you would rather be doing. This is how Saturday was for me. Spent the day at the Treasure Bowl skating, shooting photos, connecting with old and new friends, and watching some rather notable visitors tear it up. Lance Mountain, Jeff Grosso, Steve Olson, Duane Peters, Arto Saari and a host of others were here to mark the 10th anniversary of the bowl ... and maybe party a little. Here's some photos:
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It totally came, totally kicked some arse, and is now totally in the books. Talkin' about Total Fest of course. And in case you're unaware, Total Fest is a Missoula-based rock fest geared toward lesser known, independent bands. Another way to say it is that TF is a living, breathing, performing laboratory in which scientists study how humans interact when subjected to three days of noise, youth covered in jean shorts and tank tops, former youth who speak of the "good ol days," while being subjected to a lot of other people's body odor. Funny thing is, the whole shebang is damn enjoyable. This was the fourth consecutive year I have photographed the fest. Each year has its own unique vibe, and this year was no different. Hard to describe, but I liked it. I liked that the first band I photographed was more or less a country band. A little bit later, it was a surf rock band. Enjoyed a dose of stoner rock. And to cap things off, some face-melting hard rawk. (it's spelled like that to emphasize how rocky the rock really was. got it?)
The weekend was also a great time to hang out and float with some good friends who were in town, float a river, drink a few beers and recreate scenes from "What About Bob." It's how all good weekends go, right?
Here's some photos:
Spent a night in a USFS Lookout Tower recently. Was one of those life experiences that, once you've done it, you wonder why it took so long to do it. Very, very amazing night. Highlights include finding surprisingly (and refreshingly) cool weather on top of a mountain, 360 degree views, doing laps on the wrap around porch, never-ending sunset, and scratching another "first" off the list.
With the mercury topping out around 95 degrees in most of western Montana lately, it is obvious that summer is here fo' real. While that's hot, it's laughable by the rest of the country's standards. Nonetheless, I'll take it ... gladly! The hot conditions lately are responsible for me having a great birthday with family, attempting to do some river surfing on the 4th of July, shooting photos around town (between dips in the river), and generally enjoying some amazing evenings sitting around the fire pit (which is actually a wheelbarrow). Here are a few images from the last week or so.