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.
Like many photographers, I'm guessing, I watched the 60 Minutes profile on Danny Clinch without blinking, trying to absorb every single second. Rarely do I commandeer the TV in such an aggressive way, even denying my daughter the opportunity to watch a new movie the grandparents gave her for Valentine's Day.
But it was Danny Clinch. On 60 Minutes. That's notable. At least to me it is.
In case you missed it, or want to watch it over and over, here it is:
Ran across this quick little Q&A in the Montana Kaimin with my friend Chris Fairbanks today. The article ran with a few of my photos from a somewhat recent shoot with Chris. Love that Chris got some spotlight time for his show with Todd Barry in Missoula (which was completely great). Lame that the Kaimin ran the article with my photos, and never asked me ... or even told me it was happening. Double lame that the Kaimin is the U of M newspaper, produced by journalism and photojournalism students, who are taught to respect copyright. Triple lame that the photographer they dissed is also a graduate of the U of M J-School.
That, being me.
*shakes head and looks at ground in disapproval*
Seeing as how a grip of people in Missoula, and soon-to-be-heading-to-Missoula, are on the doorstep of the last Total Fest ... forever ... I felt the need to post a few images from TF's gone by. No, these aren't the super cool images of the first ever TF many would love to see, or an exhaustive archive of all things TF, nor is it a greatest hits post of your favorite band. Rather it's merely a way for me to share a few more images of some of the more recent TF's I have photographed leading up to this weekend when many stories are relived, old friends reunited, and the doors get blown off the hinges one last time. It's also my way to show my appreciation to everyone involved with making TF exist in the world. It may be ending, but it's not ending.
I am sure many echo my words and sentiments when I say that Total fest will be sorely missed. Not simply for the new music many were exposed to over the course of 14 years, but for all the fun, could-never-be-scripted moments that were a result of Total Fest existing in the first place. My hat goes off to the organizers and throngs of volunteers it took to pull off this Fest every year. For 14 years, hundreds of people got to enjoy three nights of rock because a handful of people worked their asses off for a long time.
Here's a few from Total Fest 2012. No particular order. No particular reason I chose these.
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.