I managed to sneak in one last portrait session with an ON DECK 11 artist before the whole thing got swept away by the endless current of bidding, winning and shipping. Lucky for me Andrew Pommier drove all the way from Vancouver B.C. to Missoula to attend the show in person and was up for spending some time shooting some photos. Andrew has been in ON DECK several times in the past so it was great to finally get to meet him in person and hang out a bit. Not only was he willing to eat glass for me, he even helped put together a trampoline for some friends. Nice dude.
Anyone with a fraction of a pulse and who pays at least 1% attention to the happenings around Missoula, MT are no doubt familiar with the name Courtney Blazon. Courtney, with her instantly recognizable style, has had her work involved with many, many, many local and national events, publications, companies and private commissions. I love her work and think beyond the shadow of a doubt that she is deserving of all the success she earns.
Also ... she's a god damn delight to be around. During our shoot, which featured her skateboard for the ON DECK 11 art auction, there were times I didn't want to end the conversation by picking up the camera. She is so easy to interact with – and whether talking about her passion (obsession?) with blowing bubbles, love of shoes, her work habits, or a random dog rolling on a dead mouse – there was rarely a minute without a smile on either one of our faces. The weather (wind, rain, sun, clouds) was a factor on this shoot, as was a mine field of dog poop, but I loved every second of it. Thanks for being you Courtney!
In my ongoing series of photographing artists with their custom skateboards created for the Montana Skatepark Association's ON DECK 11 art auction, I knew that I had to include Theo Ellsworth. A million years ago, Theo and I grew up a few blocks away from each other, and attended the same schools all the way through high school. Although we knew each other casually, we never really hung out. Fast forward to today and it's fun to be reconnected through the art he makes and an art auction I help run. Life is funny. And fun.
As part of my ongoing series of portraits centered around the artists that take part in Missoula's ON DECK skate art auction, I recently got to spend some time with tattoo artist Ian Caroppoli. I photographed him on a Friday night at Blaque Owl Tattoo in downtown Missoula, at what turned out to be a totally great session and really enjoyable time.
As I set up whole mess of "stuff," Ian finished up with a few clients. We gradually transitioned to shooting, and were pleasantly joined by a handful of friends. Sometimes too many people present on a shoot makes me feel awkward, and sometimes too few makes me feel just as awkward. This session – spurred on by Ian's laid back demeanor and great attitude – was just right.
Ian is obviously a talented artist, whether his canvas is a skateboard or someone's arm. I hope to see his custom skateboard go for a lot of $$$ at the upcoming ON DECK 11 auction.
Over the weekend I had the pleasure of photographing Missoula artist Larkin Matoon with the custom skateboard he created for ON DECK 11, which is an annual skate art auction put on by the Montana Skatepark Association. All funds from the auction go toward building skateparks around our great state. Larkin has been in the show several times , and each piece he has created has been an absolute showstopper.
So many times on a shoot, I end up either neglecting my settings, compositional goals, and ideas because I get so involved in a conversation with my subject – or vice versa – I forget to interact with them because I am only thinking of my camera.
Larkin spoiled me.
He was so calm and relaxed about the whole situation, and was so very easy to carry on a conversation with that I never felt too rushed or that it mattered if I stopped shooting to chat. Or, as was the case more often, he never minded that I cut him off mid-sentence to tell him to hold a pose or to redo a look for me. The result of being so comfortable on the shoot was some images that I am genuinely excited about.
Thanks Larkin for your contribution to ON DECK and for being so damn pleasant.
After seeing images of Rick's bike from his trip to the One Moto Show in Portland, OR, I knew I wanted to see more. Having photographed him in his garage before, I knew it was as easy as a phone call to set it up. I love shoots like this, where it's as much about the shoot as it is hanging out, shooting the shit, and generally catching up with each other.
This bike is impressive. It started as a few tubes of steel and a chalk drawing on the garage floor. Many months (years?) later, after having bent tubes to make the frame, cut angles to get the fork perfect, rolled every inch of metal to make the tank, and I'm sure a few choice swear words, it was finished. And then, in 2017 Rick set a speed record at Bonneville at 69.258 MPH.
Back in December, I was lucky enough to find myself reunited with the fine folks from VidCon in order to photograph another one of their events. This time, it was the inaugural attempt at putting on a show focused on the world of podcasts. Appropriately titled PodCon, this event attracted 3000 people from all walks of life to the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, WA to celebrate all things related to podcasting. As with VidCon, I love the energy, unique moments, freedom that each attendee has to be themselves, and the collective feeling of being part of something cool.
Check out some more images from PodCon in the gallery here.
No matter what circles you run in around Missoula, MT, you have most likely come across the name Smoke Elser. He has spent his life working as a backcountry guide and outfitter, is a staunch defender of wilderness, and has been on the receiving end of almost every award out there. The stats I keep coming back to that define Smoke the best are these:
- Add up all the nights he has slept on the ground, under the stars, sometimes in a makeshift tent ... it's over 22 years!
- He's racked up over well 60,000 miles on horseback.
Throughout 2017 I have been working on a promo video for the Montana Council of Boy Scouts that focuses on Smoke and his contribution to the things scouting stands for. Every time I walk into his barn near the doorstep of the Rattlesnake Wilderness, I have to pinch myself. Walls of saddles, horse bridles hanging over a workbench, antlers, tools, photos of special times in the backcountry. Really, it's more of a museum than a barn. As part of the video project, I recently had a quick photo shoot with Smoke. I love the images i captured and can't wait to see them as part of the BSA's annual ICL campaign.
After having my mind blown wide open after photographing VidCon 2016, I knew I had to do something with the images I created. But it wasn't until after VidCon 2017 that I was able to sit down and produce the kind of promotional piece I thought the experience deserved. It also gave me a fantastic excuse to try out Newspaper Club! I'm beyond stoked with these gems!
Stoked to finally be able to make a post like this one. I've been wanting a new run of promo cards for a looooong while now, but never got to cross it off my list. But once I finished shooting and editing the corn/braces photo with Sophie, I was so happy with how it turned out, I knew I had to get back on the promo card wagon. I'm glad I did. Not only was the design process fun, but having a tangible result to show for the efforts is always a huge plus.
Earlier this week I actually found myself on a press check at Alphagraphics in Missoula, scoping things out and nit picking colors on a run of cards for myself. I am fascinated by the working of a printing press and could stare it the sheets clicking their way through the machine all damn day long. The folks over at Alphagraphics, whom I have worked with a ton in my time at RMSP, couldn't be nicer. It's always equal parts business, catching up with each other, and laughing at something.
I just received the finished products today, after this press check on Tuesday. I love how they turned out. If you want to see them for yourself, send me a message through my contact page, and give me your address. While you're at it, sign up for my newsletter. You'll get approx. one email a year.
Holy smokes. This was a rather awesome assignment! I mean, I knew back in November when I was asked to join a group of adaptive skiers and snowboarders on a cat skiing trip that I would be in for an insane adventure. But having actually gone and done it, and now being able to reflect on it, it's so much better. As with any assignment, one of the best parts is the curiosity and nervousness that exists before it starts. This project was no different.
My drive to Whitefish was super relaxing, and I was super curious about what I was getting into. With reports of icy roads, crazy avalanche conditions, and upwards of 4' of new snow in the previous week, I just had no idea what to expect. When I arrived, I met up with my crew - 7 adaptive athletes and several "powder hosts," who would helping out during the week - in a nondescript room in the lodge at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Coming in a bit late, I missed some of the introductions. But it meant I was right on time for a brief on-mountain avalanche refresher class. Never hurts. Also never hurts that the snowy peaks of Glacier National Park were the backdrop for the class.
The next two days were spent with Great Northern Powder Guides, riding in their insanely cool cat, up mountains, down roads, and all over the damn place. I kept pinching myself, saying "If the 23-year-old version of myself could see me now ..." This of course was in reference to all the damn days I spent boot packing or snowshoeing around the hills. Riding in the cat with the crew and hearing all their stories was beyond words. Humbling. Moving. Inspiring. Fun. Hilarious. All of the above.
Our runs were fun, although the snow had settled a TON and got kind of heavy under 50 degree temps. (Even though, there were plenty of stashes to be found). But the rides back to the top were the best. They allowed time to give (and receive) each other shit, talk, listen, laugh, close my eyes, and even watch some pretty great air keyboarding. Other highlights included: insane scenery, warm weather, blue skies, a fridge full of beer in the middle of the woods, the whole cat experience, fun dinners out with the crew, and meeting some of the coolest people I've had the good fortune to be around.
After the sleep deprivation exercise that is VidCon, I got to shoot a group photo of many of the VidCon attendees at Disneyland. Well, it's actually California Adventure or something like that, but having not slept that much for a few days, carrying a heavy camera bag, sweating profusely in the shadeless California sun, and feeling like a cow in the herd, I didn't really care which park I was in. I was just thankful that I had some pretty great volunteers to take me exactly where I needed to go. And before leaving for California I was told by the folks at Disney I wasn't eligible to have a ladder at my disposal since I wasn't an approved Disney photographer, or something like that. But to my surprise, my Disney contact met me there and couldn't have been a nicer dude. Turns out a ladder was no problemo! That means the rest was cream cheese!
The only real challenge I faced with this shot was how to make a group of this size – in direct sun, with limited time – look somewhat decent. Knowing that the situation was one of those, "it is what it is" kind of moments, I felt I had to do something outside of the normal photo bag-o-tricks to add some life to the finished product. My approach, first and foremost, was to have an approach. I knew if I showed up and just said "1, 2, 3 smile," the resulting photo would be pretty boring and stale. So, my game plan was to shoot three different "styles" of this situation. First was the simple, line' em up and shoot 'em down photo, or the CYA (cover your ass) photo. This was the boring "1,2,3 smile" approach. Nothing special, simple expose and compose. After that CYA shot was in the bag, my second plan was to switch lenses to a 15mm fisheye. This "trick" made the group look crazy, and the horizon all "bendy." This gave the whole scene a pinch of spice that otherwise was missing. Finally, my third plan was to shoot a sequence of the group doing the wave so that I could turn it into a .gif. I knew that even the slightest bit of motion, looping forever, would be eye catching when posted to various social media sites. Plus, aside from enjoying a resurgence in popularity right now, .gif's can be pretty hypnotic to watch.
A few years back, I jumped in to the world of microstock with both feet. I uploaded and keyworded like a machine. I've since scaled back a lot, but am still waiting for the truck load of dollars to arrive at my house. It's still fun though to see some of my images used in certain ways from time to time.
Yesterday I got an email from a friend with a link to an article. When I clicked into it I saw that one of my images of Missoula was used by CBS News in a story on the 20 Drunkest Cities in America. I definitely had a little laugh at this circumstance. Here is a link to the story. Here is the image:
Super stoked ... and rather proud ... to mention of this on the 'ol blog today. I just got word that the Montana Council of the Boy Scouts Of America earned five awards in the Boy Scouts of America President's Marketing Awards. It's an honor to be part of the creative team that has worked to put the MT BSA on the map ... visually. There were over 300 entries for this year’s awards. The council will be recognized at the national annual meeting in San Diego, CA at the end of May.
Check out the full brochure here:
Judges Choice – 2015 Calendar
Winner – 2015 Investment in Character and Leadership Brochure Packet:
- 2014 Annual Report,
- 2015 Camping Guide,
I had the privilege of photographing 89-year old Missoula icon Tomme Lu Worden at her University neighborhood home earlier this year. Tomme Lu's history with Missoula is incredible. As are the stories she can tell about this town and the people who make it tick. I photographed her as part of a video project I was working on which was about her boyfriend, Ty Robinson ... who at 100 years old, is slightly older than Tomme. :)
I guess it's not surprising that a retired lawyer, who was a partner in a big name firm for over 50 years, has an entire floor of a downtown building as a break room. Nor is it surprising that said floor is appointed with TV's and a bitchin' coffee machine that perfectly grinds the beans for each cup of coffee it makes. What is surprising is that said lawyer will absolutely insist that you let him make you a cup of coffee ... and will then proceed to let you pose him however you like for as long as you want. Hats off to you Bill Jones! You can see a finished portrait from this session in the People section of my site.
This behind-the-scenes images was taken as part of a video project for the MT Council of Boy Scouts.
Photo credit: Jory Dellinger
I had the pleasure of kicking off this year by photographing University of Montana President Royce Engstrom. The photo shoot was one of many shoots I lined up in conjunction with a larger video project I was working on for the Montana Council of Boy Scouts. The video was based on a local hero, centenarian, and all around amazing individual named Ty Robinson.
Here are a couple of images from President Engstrom's office of me in "action" taking his portrait and interviewing him about Ty. A final portrait from this session can be seen in the People section of my site.
Photo credit: Jory Dellinger
Back when I was a carefree runt with one skateboard and even fewer responsibilities, there were a number of "enclaves of debauchery" scattered around Missoula at which I would occasionally end up. For a while my own apartment was one of them. Another was simply called 418. One lease. Many people. Tons of fun. Among the fun-lovers at 418, was a guy named Chad Dundas. Being about the same age, and growing in Missoula, I had known Chad and his brother Zach Dundas for years. Both Chad and Zach were nice fellas who were known for playing in rock bands around town, and their ability to write. To my knowledge, both wrote for the Hellgate High School newspaper, and went on to Journalism school at the University of Montana.
The fact that we have some shared history makes it even cooler that my photo of Chad now graces the back cover of his first novel, Champion of the World, which will be published by G.P. Putnam & Sons on July 12, 2016. Some advanced copies made their way to town recently, and I got to hold it in my hands. I'm incredibly stoked for Chad's accomplishment, and honored to have my photo of him as part of the book.
photo via iPhone
In my day job as the "marketing" dude at Rocky Mountain School of Photography I wear many hats. Writer, designer, sometimes blogger, sometimes web updater, image editor, student-image-solicitor, email creator, envelope stuffer, photo contest manager, office-nap-taker, and on and on and on. I often compare it to the tentacles of an octopus, or better yet, to that arcade game, Whack-A-Mole. Remember that game? You held a big padded mallet in your hand and waited for the little varmints to pop up so you could beat the shit out of their faces? If you need a refresher see the image below. (Style points for the look of fierce determination and the bent knees).
I have learned that the word "marketing" is a buzz-filled, catch-all term that encompasses a bunch of tasks, and varies from business to business. I find it interesting that if three marketing dudes huddled around a table for beers, there is a good chance that one wouldn't have a clue how to do the other dude's job. But they're all in marketing. I don't think heart surgeons have this problem. Nor do accountants. Or garbage men. Lately I have been equating the word "portfolio" to the word "marketing." It's a must-have, wide-reaching, never-quite-finished situation. Like a slippery bar of soap. Or a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Just when you think you've got it, you don't. For me, a photographer who (for better or worse, usually worse) dances to the beat of several drums at the same time, creating a legit portfolio has never quite happened. I know, I know, a website counts. So does my Instagram account. So does a random Facebook album. But as far as a big, expensive book that one must handle like they'd handle the Mona Lisa ... I don't have one.
Why? It's not that I don't want one, or don't have the design chops to make it happen, or have the wherewithal to get it done. I mean there are tons of great options out there to assist. Social Print Studio's Photo Books look great. Blurb books work. Making a publication via issuu is an option too. Thus far it has simply eluded me, primarily due to attention span. I've pulled together collections in Lightroom, only to lose steam. I've tried printing contact sheets. Only to get hung up by the printing process.
However ... as I – once again – get more and more enamored with Rob Haggart's amazing aPhotoEditor site and Instagram feed on which he features various promos throughout the industry, the fire to get back on the portfolio horse is heating up. Along with list of other photo goals I have for myself in 2016, creating and circulating a portfolio book of my humorous portraits is near the top. These portraits are fun for me, and give me that elusive feeling of "who gives a shit if this goes anywhere, sells, or gets published" because I simply want to create them for the enjoyment I get out of it.