Starting Over

It feels like so long since I wrote a blog. For a while I was pretty good at it,but then facebook became a thing, and I started shortening — sort of 😉 — my stories and posting photos there. Now keeping up with both facebook and instagram… it feels like I’m doing so much computer time. Add to that changing websites and changing technologies and blogging just kind of fell by the wayside. But I miss writing some of this stuff. So…I’m starting my blog over.

So much has changed! Where to even begin. I have left my beloved mountains in Northwest Montana. I have relocated to Vero Beach, Florida and although I miss the incredible wildness of that remote part of the West, I am swiftly falling in love with the ever changing sea.

This week I took part in a photography contest and thanks to facebook likes and comments I learned something quite valuable about assumptions I make as a photographer/artist.

Every year at the UPAA (University Photographer’s Association of America) there is a challenge called the Nikon Shoot Out.

“The Nikon Shoot Out brings together creativity, interpretation,
and timeliness into a fun and competitive exercise. Each year
at the symposium the Nikon representative gives an assignment
that must be completed in a specified place and time. All those
participating are on equal ground as they make one image and
submit it without post processing for judging by the Nikon
Representative in attendance.”

I did not do a great job of reading the instructions. The photo had to be shot before 8 p.m. (I only took one of my photos before 8 because I had a 7 o’clock book club). And the deadline for turning the photo in was 1 a.m. (I could have sworn I read that as 11 a.m.) I slept through the deadline. Oooops.

The theme this year was “flowers.” I had to chuckle at that because one of my early photography teachers always said, “Photographing flowers is cheating, God does all the work.” He also said that about photographing cute kids. The context of that was challenging student photographers to think about their subject matter. He didn’t want us to be lazy , going only for the easy shots. Flowers are naturally beautiful and children are naturally less self-conscious — making them “easy.” Why not choose a harder option, challenge yourself. Like photographing an old woman, beautiful in her own right, but maybe less confident about that truth. Or taking on a project with people who intimidate you. Children are a lot of things, but intimidating (to an adult) usually isn’t one of them. Based on that early challenge, I have seldom photographed flowers in my career. The challenge of this event was to photograph in an unexpected way, in a visually interesting fashion, doing more than recording just a pretty picture.

And that is where I started to fall into the trap of “pro” thinking.

As a professional photographer, the visual world dominates a large chunk my life. This has been true for decades, yet as never before I see the world is changing around me. Phone with cameras, instagram, flickr, facebook, snapchat, photos are become a part of a visual language that is accessible to just about accessible to anyone, anywhere. The good news is, there are amazing photos that can be seen from places I had never dreamed of visiting. There are causes, with passionate advocates, that are getting their message out by brilliant means with the help of campaigns that rely on packing a visual punch. There is an amazing array of talent and drive and passion and commitment to be found in unexpected quarters. And there are a lot of really, really, really bad images to sort through. How then to curate one’s own work? By what standards?

For a competition, it seemed easy enough. I was mentally preparing to go up against 80 or so fellow professionals. These are talented artists, people I admire and respect. Because I misread the instructions, I didn’t get to enter, so I shared my photos on social media. And that is when I got the truly unexpected lesson.

Here in Vero we are lucky enough to have a growing climate that orchids like. Before living here, I had only ever seen them in green houses. Technically this is the end of their growing season and the blooms are past their peak loveliness, but that seemed like nitpicking. This orchid is planted on the branches of an oak tree near the Riverside Theatre. To get to it, I had to duck under branches and skulk about avoiding the other tree-dwellers that I dislike most (spiders). It was not easy. But isn’t that the fun of a photography challenge. It pushes you out of your normal bounds?

Not satisfied with only the one, I went looking around for other options and found this sad looking wilting rose. I almost didn’t take a photograph of this one at all, but the lights from the Vero Museum of Art in the background made the situation too good to pass up. Not to mention that I have a soft spot for roses because of the Little Prince.

Technically I could have stopped here. But the challenge of what else might be found pulled me on. Vero Beach is divided into two parts by the Indian River, there is the Island – which is where I mostly work for the newspaper, and the Mainland – where I live. The houses and gardens on both are often spectacular, but on the island there is greater wealth and a more concentrated collection of exquisite gardens. It’s 9 o’clock at night or so, and I decided it was a good idea to go drive around some of the wealthy lanes to see if there were any orchids I could stop and photograph without getting arrested for trespassing or getting stopped by the cops for seriously suspicious behavior.

On one of those roads I happened to spot a lady walking her dog for the last time before bed. I have years of practice at approaching strangers to ask them about photos (such is a life in newspapers) and yet each time it is a challenge. What I love is the way so many people surprise me with a simple yes. I explained I was in this contest and even though it was pitch black I asked if she’d mind if I spent about 20 minutes or so photographing her orchids. She’s the one who told me they were past their prime, but honestly, I thought they were lovely. She smiled at how happy I seemed and said to make myself welcome.

This was such a great moment. I was thrilled. With my light, plus the landscape lighting she had, I knew I could get a photo I was happy with. These two are from her yard.

Both of these felt like strong candidates to me. I like the vertical because of the way orchid flows into the creeping vines beneath it. And this horizontal I liked because palm trees are a favorite of mine (I grew up in a desert and remember palm trees very well). I thought I would likely enter one of these.

Content with my options I drove home. But just as I was about to pull into my driveway I kept driving. There was one last image I wanted. A local architect has a Bird of Paradise bush outside his office right on US 60. I pass it almost daily. And I knew it was in full bloom. So I took my light and got one last photo for the night.

The rules of this contest are that the photo must be straight out of the camera, no cropping, no adjusting, no photoshop, no filters. I’m still pretty happy with these. But the favorite of all I uploaded to facebook is the most ordinary of all. It’s the first I took, a photo of a lily on a small pond.

When the theme was announced I had only minutes to get to the McKee Botanical Gardens before they closed. The garden closes at 5, but the last ticket is sold at 4. I couldn’t go in, but I knew they had a small pond out front – I had seen it only a few days prior. So I took the longest lens I have, a 300mm f2.8, I laid down on the ground and I shot this image.

The picture is decent. The composition is off-center. The low angle is good. But the light is boring. There is no drama. And in terms of “creativity” this image is too classic to be considered creative.

Wouldn’t you know it, this one, the one I rejected as not good enough, as boring, as predictable, this was the favorite.

I really wish I could have competed in the contest, but I think that the lesson I learned from the night far outweighs what I would have won or lost by entering. I was reminded that a simple challenge is a great way to clear mental cobwebs. It was FUN! Such fun. To be out, chasing an image in my mind, at odd hours and seeing they way world opens to one who is looking.

And I learned an important lesson about my own biases. There is a reason “classic beauty” is enduring. Sometimes it is worth pushing oneself for creative or profound or unique. Sometimes there is also value in simple truths and quiet moments easily taken for granted. Sometimes those reach people more deeply than all the flash, bang, pop or sparkle.

Thanks for reading. If you care to leave a note about which is your favorite and why, I’d love to read it.
Shalom.

Update:
As a thank you to the woman who let me photograph her yard, I printed these photos as a set of 5x7s and gave then went searching for her home in the daylight. About a week had passed by this point. She remembered me, as did her pup, and the look of joy on her face at being handed these literally made my day. That was my win. I am very pleased with the work and the results.

Photographing the Northern Lights

Northern Lights over Upper Stillwater LakeBefore moving to Montana I had never seen the Northern Lights. The first time I saw them was because I got a text from a friend at the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office: “Northern Lights over Big Mountain.” That came through a little after midnight. I got up, raced out and started shooting. Mesmerizing. That’s what the Lights are. They sway and pulse and dance across the sky in colors and beats that are wildly beautiful and unpredictable.

Tonight I woke up at 1:39 a.m. and noticed the particular shade of green that indicates that outside the lights of the city, the Northern Lights are putting on a show. In a matter of minutes I had my keys, clothes, camera and tripod and was starting up the Jeep. The question is where to go…

If you have never seen the Northern Lights in Montana go to Glacier National Park. The dock at Apgar is one of the best viewing spots there is. One, it’s Glacier (you can never go wrong there). Two, you’ll have the benefit of the frequently smooth as glass Lake McDonald. Three, there are no annoying city lights or power lines to contend with. Four, there is that famous silhouetted horizon the mountains at the east end of the lake. It really is quite perfect.

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A view of the Northern Lights over Lake McDonald at 11:56 p.m. on Thursday, April 9, in Glacier National Park. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

Last year I took this photo of the lights from Apgar. The picture was a complete surprise and people responded to it in a way I never expected. So tonight I was faced with the question of whether or not to return to Apgar. The location is perfection, but would it be really any different than the last time I photographed there? It’s Saturday night, one of the nights when people can be out photographing the Lights and then sleep in the next day, so I knew I wouldn’t be alone if I went to Glacier. And one of the things I wanted was a shot different from what everyone else would be getting.

Years ago I was at a photography workshop and one of the photographers there was a shooter for National Geographic. He wasn’t a teacher, he was on a personal retreat and he didn’t talk too much. But I noticed the way he deliberately moved away from the crowd. He avoided the obvious shot and would hike much further to get something unique. In one of the few times I was brave enough to talk to him, he mentioned that he hated it when people followed him. He didn’t want to be copied, he wanted to find his own images and wanted other people to find what would speak to them. When I was a young photographer I didn’t really understand this. It made sense to me to follow him, after all, he knew what he was doing. Now that I’m a pro, I understand better. There is something powerful and magical about going you’re own way to find your own view. What you find may not match the perfection of the well known, but it will be your own. I wanted that tonight.

So, two roads: I could go with what I knew would work, or I could take off on an adventure and simply hope for the best. I went with the second option and it was so worth it.

Northern Lights over Upper Stillwater LakeInstead of going to Glacier I drove north of US 93. There is a lake called Upper Stillwater and it’s the name that made me want to seek it out. I wanted the reflection to double the effect of the Lights. I’ve seen photos of the Northern Lights from latitudes in the 50s and 60s. And the farther north a person is, the more the Lights seem to fill the entire sky. One day I hope to travel in those regions and see the Lights the way I have seen them photographed. From Montana, (based solely on my own experiences) the lights seem to pretty well hug the north/east horizon.

Since the lights aren’t going to overwhelm the sky here like they do up north, when I go looking to photograph them I go looking for north facing water. It’s not the easiest thing to find in the pitch black dark of night. But when you do find it, the water becomes a mirror. That’s what I’m looking for, that’s the shot I want.

Northern Lights over Upper Stillwater LakeIt is fascinating to stand alone in the dark surrounded by the sounds of the night under the light of the stars. In the coolness of the predawn hours my overactive imagination goes wild with fears of bears and wolves and mountain lions. But even those fears heighten the experience and make me feel more alive. When the Lights are out the stars create points of stillness that accentuate the speed of the solar winds pushing the lights across the sky. The sky dances and it is lovely.

These photos were taken with a Nikon D600 and a 17-35mm f2.8 lens at ISO 640 and exposed for 25-30 seconds. The location is the bridge over Upper Stillwater. What a spectacular night, what a perfect way to begin Mother’s Day.

Northern Lights over Upper Stillwater Lake

Northern Lights over Upper Stillwater Lake

Northern Lights over Upper Stillwater Lake

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Northern Lights over Upper Stillwater Lake

Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights

Northern Lights over Sunday Lake, near Stryker, Montana

Art and Fear

“When your work is counted, will it be counted as art?…Acceptance and approval are powers held by others.”
— From Art and Fear.
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There in a great and terrible power in the negative voice.

Why are criticisms so much easier to believe than compliments? When someone says something kind, I smile, say thank you, and go on my merry way — grateful, but forgetful. But say one negative thing, even without malice, and I find myself coming back to those hurtful words over and over again. I feel like an oyster desperately trying to protect myself form the irritation of a tiny grain of sand. Maybe all this would be easier if I thought at the end of it, I would at least have earned a pearl of wisdom, but it doesn’t seem to work that way. The pain and suffering seem useless, futile.
I have the perfect example for this. Six months ago I posted a video slideshow to my Facebook page (the photos in this post are a few of the shots from that slideshow). I got a huge response to this. I’m not a famous photographer so my numbers might be lackluster in the eyes of some, but to a mostly-anonymous photographer in the middle of nowhere Montana, the numbers created by this video far outmatched anything I’ve created before or since.
If you want to see the video and have a Facebook account, here is the link:

Here is what this video did for me.
More than 1000 likes to my Facebook page in about a month. That was a nice ego boost.
2,536 people reacted to the video.
7,997 people shared it.
197,594 people watched it.
I got hundreds of comments from people. Most consisted of simple things like: “Wow,” “Beautiful,” and “Thank you.” And everyone one of these made me smile, made me grateful.
But a lot of the comments were more personal. I now have a Facebook friend who follows my work from France and comments in French (a language I sadly can’t speak — thank God for google translator). Her comments are so encouraging and because they’re in a foreign language, each one is like a delightful treat.
A woman who lives in Costa Rica offered to let me stay at her place if I ever wanted to come down and photograph that country. Wow.
For the slideshow I matched the photos with the song “Bury Me in Montana” by singer/songwriter Mike Murray. The song is incredible and is on his album Tumbleweed which you can find on iTunes at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/tumbleweed/id1008787372 (it’s track number 11 the Alternative version). Some people who viewed the video really connected with their grief and I got comments from people about lost loved ones and how this video touched them and was a comfort to them. I am an artist who has lost both of her parents, so these types of comments were dearest to my heart.
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Some comments people wrote:
“Absolutely wonderful, Brenda, thank you for this beautiful work of love! Makes me miss Montana all the more! I will share this, too gorgeous not to! Blessings to you!”
“Your work is beautiful. Being a lapsed photographer I do know the hours that went into your presentation. Keep going with your passion you have a real talent.”
“Brenda your photography is insanely good!! What you capture through the lens is gorgeous. If you words don’t make it into some kind of printed compilation it will be a shame. Beautiful work!”
Who wouldn’t want to get comments like these? And there are hundreds of them. So much good. So many kind people. So many expressions of love and gratitude.
And yet…
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Of course, it isn’t all perfect or kind. There is one person in particular who couldn’t be kind a wrote a comment that started off with “I’m sorry” (because if you’re going to insult someone you should always start with an apology.) “I’m sorry but…” she basically said that she was sorry but she felt compelled to point out that my photography really isn’t all that good. She went on to link to another photographer’s Facebook page as an example of what a “real” artist can do.
I didn’t respond.
I mean really, what is there to say?
“Thank you.” Nope. Not grateful.
“The photographer you admire sucks.” Nope. I don’t need to go on the attack.
I could acknowledge how much she hurt me, but why give her that kind of power?
So, I said nothing. I ignored the comment and since this was six months ago, I couldn’t get back to it to find it if I had to. After all this time, after thousands of joyful, positive, enthusiastic, great, amazing, heart-warming, inspiring, edifying, uplifting, unique, thoughtful, and gratitude-inducing moments that have come from this video there is still only one comment that I remember clearly, and it’s the negative one. One negative voice, in a sea of compliments, and that is the voice I hold onto.
Why is that?

Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake A sunrise view of Reynolds Mountain over an alpine meadow on Thursday, September 13, in Glacier National Park.

After the deaths of my parents I remember finding a beautiful little poem that I memorized and have remembered now for 15 years. He wrote:
“Our joys as winged dreams do fly,
Why then should sorry last?
Since grief but aggravates thy loss,
Grieve not for what is past.”
Sunrise Over Dickey Lake
A few weeks ago I read a great little book that has been helpful and challenging. It’s called Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Making Art by David Bayles and Ted Orland.
There are so many great quotes in this book, I took pages of notes while reading it. But for the purpose of this blog I am going to end with three. These are the three things I am trying to remember, trying to hold onto and learn instead of getting wrapped around that negative voice.
“Making the work you want to make means finding your nourishment within the work itself.”
“The viewer’s concerns are not your concerns. Their job is whatever it is: to be moved by art, to be entertained by it, to make a killing off it, whatever. Your job is to learn to work on your work.”
“Catering to fears of being misunderstood…you discard your own highest vision in the process.”
Colorful Sunrise
I’m going to hold on to what was worth holding onto from this experience. I am going to hold onto the people who wrote with love and kindness in their hearts and who touched my life and left me feeling alive, and appreciated, and so very grateful. This has been a bit of a challenge, but the work should always be a challenge. My mentor (and best friend) always used to quote Tom Hanks from the movie A League of Their Own.
“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”
Whatever else my life ends up being, it certainly has offered moments that  were truly great. Every bit of challenge has been worthwhile.

A view of the Northern Lights over Lake McDonald at 11:56 p.m. on Thursday, April 9, in Glacier National Park. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

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(Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

North Fork Buck

Blue Sky Morning

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2010 Looking Back

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Trumpeter Swans on Flathead Lake

Spring Thaw comes to Lake McDonald

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See what a difference 18 minutes can make…

This is my favorite photo of the sunset last night at City Beach, Whitefish, Montana.
b20160315city_beach_0995But the night didn’t start off looking like this. It started off with some great clouds and good light, but the very tip of the mountain was shaded. This is what it started off as…
b20160315city_beach_0876This first photo of the night isn’t ‘bad.’ But it isn’t anything I would normally post. I am only adding this to show the difference that 18 minutes can make.

Photography is a waiting game. You see the light, you see the clouds, you go. You find your location and you wait. In the wind, and the cold, you sit on some rock and wait and hope. You hope that as the sun continues to drop eventually it is going to strike the top of Big Mountain. And the clouds will light up with color. And you know that if you’ll just wait you will have a chance at getting so incredibly lucky, or you’ll get nothing but colder.

The days that are hardest are the ones when the light doesn’t quite do what you need it to, and you walk away with photos that are just “meh.”
Eighteen minutes. Biting cold. Shivering in the wind. The sound of the water making me feel even colder. Battling doubt as the minutes creep by and wondering, ‘am I wasting my time out here?’ And then at the very end of sunset the last, most colorful light, struck the top of Big Mountain and just like that — Boom! — worth it.
Absolutely and unquestionably worth the wait.
Patience is always a virtue, but that is especially true in photography. In that 18 minutes most of the people who beat me to this location packed up and left. They didn’t see the finale.
I wish I could say that every time I wait and watch I get rewarded, but that isn’t true. A lot of the time, I just get cold. But I always know there is this chance for pure delight. And even when I don’t get it, I don’t regret it. I guess the simple truth is, it’s always worthwhile — photos or no — because it restores my soul.

Here are the in between photos. Enjoy.

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Wedding Portfolio

For weeks my life has been consumed with preparing my wedding portfolio. It’s been a long time since I have made one of these and sorting through thousands of photographs was not an easy task. I’ve decided to share a few of my favorite pages from my new 8.5 inch square album here.

Also, I’m going to give a small plug to Mixbook. I am not an affiliate of theirs and I don’t make any money or get any rewards for this, I simply want to say something good about a good product. The album I created is one of their premium lay-flat books. I chose the 8.5 square layout and I love it. The pages are a strong and thick, the color reproduction of the photos in the books are excellent. This is something I am going to be proud to show off to potential clients.

I have gone with companies that charge hundreds of dollars on albums. I once paid $500+ for an album. And I’ll admit, it was gorgeous. Really. A work of art. But not worth the price for me. I don’t make albums for clients anymore except by special request, but a lot of clients seem to want to save the money and make their own. I have no qualms about sending people to mixbook. This is my third album with them, and I am well pleased with this product.

Here are some of the pages I designed for my book. If you want to see more I have almost the whole thing up on my wedding blog: wedding portfolio

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The Big Mountain Location Challenge

Big Mountain from downtown Whitefish at dawn.

Big Mountain from downtown Whitefish at dawn.

This post is really going to only apply to people who have some connection to the Flathead Valley. I need help with a project and I’m getting desperate. So I have decided create this Big Mountain Location Challenge. The winner will get a complimentary 16×20 print of either the photo they made possible, or any of my other photographs that they wish.

Here’s the back story:

It’s hard to believe this started at least two years ago. I have a friend who loves my photography. He has consistently purchased aluminum prints to decorate his house and I’m honored. As friendship has grown and changed over the years he’s gone from picking photos that I’ve taken to hang on his wall, to giving me assignments. I’m basically making custom artwork for him. He’s from Montana, so when he told me has this mental image of the Swan range at sunset, he’s not really talking about the view he saw from his living room window growing up, he’s talking about a lifetime of seeing and loving those mountains. And so I get to go out, drive around, scout for locations and then wait until the weather is perfect to go and try to capture his vision. It’s hard enough to be working on my own artistic vision of a scene, but add to that the challenge of taking a modern photograph that somehow captures a lifetime of memories and associations…it’s not easy. But it is worthwhile.

In my personal photography work the only person I am shooting for, and the only person I have to please, is me. If others like what I create, great. If not, oh well. Trying to capture someone’s predetermined mental image is vastly different than shooting for myself. But like Tom Hanks said in A League of Their Own, “It’s the hard that makes it great.”

After many attempts I got the Swan Range photo. The challenge I am currently working on is Big Mountain with the ski lights on. I shot this a bit last year, but none of those were quite what was wanted. This week I went to dinner with this guy and his family and I got the not so subtle hint that the lights on the mountain are on again on Saturdays and Sundays (what we was actually saying is: “Get back to work”). Skiing with the lights on is significant to him because of the memories it provokes of time with his wife and kids and maybe even times from when he was a kid skiing under those lamps. The weight of the nostalgia connected to this mental image of his, is only adding to challenge for me.

I went out for sunrise this morning, because it turns out the lights are on for dawn as well. Yeah, more changes for me. But I am still not finding the ideal location.

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So, if anyone reading this has a suggestion for the perfect location from which to photograph the ski lights and Big Mountain please message me via Facebook. I will need to scout the location in the day time and then randomly show up there when the light is right. If you have a friend or family with property on the lake, or a vast field that looks across to the mountain, or whatever, I want to see it. If your location creates the photograph that finally gets the approval of my most persnickety friend, then I will give you a 16×20 photograph of either the photo you made possible, or any of my other photographs that you may prefer. Please message me if you are interested in submitting a location.

The first person to submit a location gets it, so if you have more than one idea, mail them in. Two, I am NOT the person who will be deciding this. He is. And honestly, I never have a clue what this guy is going to choose.

Thank you in advance!

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2015 Year in Review: part three – people, families, true loves

2015 was by far and away one of the busiest years of my life. I photographed 9 weddings. Plus high school seniors. Engagements. Portraits. One friend of mine described my life as having two full time jobs. He was right. For 2016 I’m going to be looking for more balance, but as I look back, I am only grateful for the amazing people who let me be part of telling their story.

My “rules” for this post are fairly simple. One photo from the major wedding or lifestyle assignments this year. There are going to be a few times where I will cheat. I couldn’t help myself…

 

A surprise engagement in Glacier National Park. I have seldom had as much fun planning a photo shoot as I did this one. He was SO excited and so thoughtful and yet so open to ideas and suggestions. We had fun...

A surprise engagement in Glacier National Park. I have seldom had as much fun planning a photo shoot as I did this one. He was SO excited and so thoughtful and yet so open to ideas and suggestions. We had fun…

How joyful to photograph a wedding and then have someone come back to Montana for family photos.

How joyful to photograph a wedding and then have someone come back to Montana for family photos.

Echo, the bride who loves chartreuse, the bride I have photographed the most frequently, was in my life for two photo shoots this year: pregnancy photos and then the birth of her first child.

Echo, the bride who loves chartreuse, the bride I have photographed the most frequently, was in my life for two photo shoots this year: pregnancy photos and then the birth of her first child.

This was the photo shoot that made me cry. I have never before been asked to document the start of a life. Years ago Echo hired me to photograph her wedding. We became good friends. This year her first child was born. And as I watched and tried to photograph her work so hard to bring her daughter into the world, I had to put the camera down at one point because I was crying... This was miraculous. I shall never forget it.

This was the photo shoot that made me cry. I have never before been asked to document the start of a life. Years ago Echo hired me to photograph her wedding. We became good friends. This year her first child was born. And as I watched and tried to photograph her work so hard to bring her daughter into the world, I had to put the camera down at one point because I was crying…
This was miraculous. I shall never forget it.

Seattle with swing dancers Ben and Ariel.

Seattle with swing dancers Ben and Ariel.

I'm cheating a bit...the goal of this was to choose only one best photo from a collection, but I loved this shot of Ben. So GQ...

I’m cheating a bit…the goal of this was to choose only one best photo from a collection, but I loved this shot of Ben. So GQ…

Another surprise engagement. Glacier is popular for that.

Another surprise engagement. Glacier is popular for that.

Mother-to-be portraits with Miss Taylor

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Engagement photos for a wonderful couple. I will be photographing their wedding in August.

Engagement photos for a wonderful couple. I will be photographing their wedding in August.

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This is my second round of photographing this family. Every year Brandy wants a photo with the whole family and her dog...and every time, the dog fails to cooperate. It's become a tradition.

This is my second round of photographing this family. Every year Brandy wants a photo with the whole family and her dog…and every time, the dog fails to cooperate. It’s become a tradition.

Pris Family Photos - fall 2015

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Josh and Lindsey Clark - Wedding Photos

This is my only other cheat, I loved this photo of Lindsey, she is so elegant.

This is my only other cheat, I loved this photo of Lindsey, she is so elegant.

One of my favorite photos of the year was this one. I asked Katie (whose wedding I shot in June) and Mandy, (whose wedding I shot last year) if they would be willing to get a few more brides to get super glammed up and pretend to be "Bridezillas." These ladies were awesome and this photo shoot was a scream. Thanks to Kathleen Fancis of Fancy Face Design for the face painting. It was exactly what I wanted.

One of my favorite photos of the year was this one. I asked Katie (whose wedding I shot in June) and Mandy, (whose wedding I shot last year) if they would be willing to get a few more brides to get super glammed up and pretend to be “Bridezillas.” These ladies were awesome and this photo shoot was a scream.
Thanks to Kathleen Fancis of Fancy Face Design for the face painting. It was exactly what I wanted.

Christmas Photos 2015

Surprise engagement at the New Year's Eve dance at North End Swing. And this is my final cheat. I needed one more photo because her happy expression I just had to post.

Surprise engagement at the New Year’s Eve dance at North End Swing. And this is my final cheat. I needed one more photo because her happy expression I just had to post.

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2015 Year in Review: part two – Music, Theater and Dancing

Mike MurrayI love being a photographer for a lot of reasons, but one of my favorite things to photograph is other artists. I love being around creative people. Engaging with them. Seeing them live out their passion. Being inspired by the way they chase after what they long for. Fortunately, I have a job that allows me the opportunity to collaborate with these people. They get to do what they love and I get to document that. In my time here in Montana I’ve built some amazing connections through swing dancing and through the performance arts. Here are some of my favorite photos from 2015.

The first photo is a detail from a Mike Murray concert in Whitefish. Mike is a the singer/songwriter I collaborated with this year for the video slideshow of my scenic Montana photos set to his song “Bury Me in Montana.” I love his work. To see the video check out my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BrendaAhearnPhotography/

 

One of my favorite projects of the year was the Northwest Artist Syndicate’s Singer/Songwriter competition (which Mike Murray won). For the newspaper we did individual profiles on all ten competitors. It was a massive amount of work under a hard deadline, but I loved it. These are the portraits I did of Nick Spear (who I was already friends with from his work with the New Wave Time Trippers) and Chris Kammerer

(who performs as “Old Sap”). Nick can be found online at: http://nickspear.com. And Chris has his info up at: http://www.oldsapmusic.com.

Nick Spear at Crush in downtown Whitefish, Montana.

Nick Spear at Crush in downtown Whitefish, Montana.

"Old Sap" Chris Kammerer performing at his home in Bigfork, Montana.

“Old Sap” Chris Kammerer performing at his home in Bigfork, Montana.

 

Sapphire Shakedown perform at Casey's in Whitefish.

Sapphire Shakedown perform at Casey’s in Whitefish.

 

Kevin Van Dort at Casey's in Whitefish.

Kevin Van Dort at Casey’s in Whitefish.

Detail of the unique guitar Kevin Van Dort frequently plays.

Detail of the unique guitar Kevin Van Dort frequently plays.

 

Mike Murray with The Left Ready at Casey's in Whitefish.

Mike Murray with The Left Ready at Casey’s in Whitefish.

For Father’s day we did a story on Chris and his son CJ which involved photos in Glacier National Park. There are few things I appreciate as much as people who are willing to work with me when the light is good. Photography is recorded light. Want great pictures? Find great light.

CJ Krager and his father Chris make music during a portrait session in Glacier National Park on Tuesday, June 16. CJ is a member of the Copper Mountain Band and Chris collaborates with a number of local musicians, but is most frequently seen with the Left Ready and with Mike Murray in the Mike Murray Duo. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

CJ Krager and his father Chris make music during a portrait session in Glacier National Park on Tuesday, June 16. CJ is a member of the Copper Mountain Band and Chris collaborates with a number of local musicians, but is most frequently seen with the Left Ready and with Mike Murray in the Mike Murray Duo. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

This year I spent my second season documenting both the on stage productions and the behind the scenes life of the Alpine Theatre Project. This is by far and away one of my favorite projects of the year.

ATP rehearsal of Legally Blond

ATP rehearsal of Legally Blond

ATP Summer Rehearsals. The Summer Season included the plays Chicago, Big Fish and Ring of Fire, a review of the music of Johnny Cash.

ATP Summer Rehearsals. The Summer Season included the plays Chicago, Big Fish and Ring of Fire, a review of the music of Johnny Cash.

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Eric Michael Krop as Little Mary Sunshine in Chicago.

Eric Michael Krop as Little Mary Sunshine in Chicago.

A scene from Big Fish.

A scene from Big Fish.

A special "outtake" photograph of Halladay Quist.

A special “outtake” photograph of Halladay Quist.

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Shrek

N'Kenge takes center stage at Yuletide XII the annual Alpine Theatre Project Christmas season special on Monday night, December 21, at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center. In the background are Rebecca Spear, Susan O'Dea and Amelia Cormack. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

N’Kenge takes center stage at Yuletide XII the annual Alpine Theatre Project Christmas season special on Monday night, December 21, at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center. In the background are Rebecca Spear, Susan O’Dea and Amelia Cormack. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

Several years ago I got involved (via photography) with a group of local swing dancers. They eventually built up their dance scene to become North End Swing. Montana isn’t what one would imagine as a metropolis of swing dancers, but every year there is at least one major event that brings in some amazing dancers. It’s the Big Sky Workshop Weekend in June. Every year it gets better and 2015 was simply amazing.
If you are thinking about seeing Montana at it’s best check out http://www.bigskyweekend.com. This way you can see the wonders of this part of the world and some world-class dancing all in one trip.

Big Sky Weekend

Big Sky Weekend 2015

Big Sky Weekend

Big Sky Weekend 2015

Big Sky Weekend

Chris and Kate Walters. I got to do their engagement photos while there were here in Montana, then in September I went out to photograph their wedding in Tacoma, Washington.

Chris and Kate Walters. I got to do their engagement photos while there were here in Montana, then in September I went out to photograph their wedding in Tacoma, Washington.

Big Sky became even more magical for me when I managed to convince some friends from Bozeman to meet me at 3 a.m. for a drive up to Logan Pass in Glacier National Park for a sunrise photo shoot. The mosquitos were unbelievable, but the photos made the trek worthwhile.

Sunrise in Glacier with Swing Dancers

Sunrise in Glacier with Swing Dancers

Sunrise in Glacier with Swing Dancers

The next day, Peter Flahiff, who has been my dance instructor for years, and his new dance partner Miss Lauren Stanley also came up for sunrise. Sunrise is no easy thing to talk dancers into, especially when they have been dancing until 1 a.m. 2015music_0019

I had such a fun time at Big Sky that immediately after the workshop I headed over to Seattle for the 4th of July and some photos with my other dance instructor Ben White and his parter, Miss Ariel Goh. Which was followed by a night of dancing at Eastside Stomp with Casey MacGill.

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Amanda Duff Caldwell as Patsy Cline and Scarlett Schindler as Louise Seger will star in the Whitefish Theatre Company's production of "Always...Patsy Cline." The cabaret show is running over two weeks – July 29-31, August 1, 5-8 with a preview night on July 28. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

Amanda Duff Caldwell as Patsy Cline and Scarlett Schindler as Louise Seger will star in the Whitefish Theatre Company’s production of “Always…Patsy Cline.” The cabaret show is running over two weeks – July 29-31, August 1, 5-8 with a preview night on July 28. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

To wrap up the year I once again joined North End Swing for their end of the year dance. And this one turned into something unexpected. While there one of my friends proposed to his girlfriend, and I caught the moment. 🙂 What a perfect way to end one year and begin a new one.

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2015 Year in Review: part one – Photojournalism

View from atop the Evergreen Fire and Rescue ladder truck of a fire on Mountain View Drive in Evergreen on Wednesday, August 5. The helicopter is from the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake) (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

It would be difficult to pick a non-fire related photo to start with because the 2015 fire season was one for the record books. This is from the massive Evergreen fire in August.

Welcome to a brand new year! In true procrastinator style I have waited for the end of 2015 to write up my reflections on the year. In my defense, I don’t really feel my year is over. Personally, I have always counted my birthday (April 4) as my year, so by my reckoning I still have three months left. 🙂

This is the year I turned 40. That number seems impossible. I can remember being a child. My mother had this framed saying that she had cross-stiched which read: “Life begins at 40.” I can actually remember thinking, “Forty is ancient. How could anybody live to be that old?” Only now, I don’t feel ancient. I feel like life is just beginning. I wanted 40 to be memorable, and it has certainly been that. In many ways this has been one of the best years of my life. I’m excited for 2016, but I wonder how it could ever top 2015…

Still, the best day is the next day and I am so looking forward to what’s coming. But for right now, I have to stop and give a word of thanks for all the ways I was blessed this year.

A view of the Northern Lights over Lake McDonald at 11:56 p.m. on Thursday, April 9, in Glacier National Park. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

A view of the Northern Lights over Lake McDonald at 11:56 p.m. on Thursday, April 9, in Glacier National Park. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

My biggest news was this: For my sixth anniversary here in Montana I created a video retrospective of some of my favorite shots from my time here. I combined this with a song I fell in love with by Mike Murray called Bury Me in Montana (if you’re interested you can find it on iTunes on his album Tumbleweed). As of today the video has been seen 130,000 times.

If you want to see it, it’s at the top of my Brenda Ahearn Photography page on facebook. https://www.facebook.com/BrendaAhearnPhotography/

The other major milestone for me this year was having on of my photos published in Time magazine. It’s a bit odd, the way things hit me. I’ve been working full time for a newspaper since 2002. And I’ve been seeing my work get printed since 1996. One would think that after so much time, I would be pretty well immune to the thrill of seeing my work in print. Not so. I still get a kick out of it. I love it when I get the front page of the paper I work for. Or even one of the inside pages. All I really care about is that the printing looks good and thanks to our press guys most of the time, the prints look very good. I love it when I find the AP has picked up one of my photos and it went out nationwide or even worldwide. I’ve had photos show up in some pretty major papers. My favorite was five years ago when I got my first photo in USA Today. Ironically USA Today isn’t delivered in Montana. Go figure. Still, it was a thrill. And this this year… Wow. It started with an email: would I be interested in having one of my photos considered for publication in Time magazine. Hell YES!!!! Except, of course, I wrote something far more professional in response. And come to find out they loved the photo and wanted it. Were even willing to pay the Inter Lake fee to get it. After all, I shot the photo while on assignment for the DIL so I don’t own the rights to it. They lady at Time graciously sent me 5 copies of the magazine. It’s the October issue with Pope Frances on the front. I am so honored.

Copies of the magazine sent to me courtesy of Time, as well as the photo they published with a story on the popularity of adventure racing.

Copies of the magazine sent to me courtesy of Time, as well as the photo they published with a story on the popularity of adventure racing.

This year I photographed 14 families, 2 surprise engagements in Glacier, and 9 weddings. I got to see the Pacific ocean for the first time in too many years and I got to be a part of two of the best swing dance workshops ever followed by a trek to Seattle and some photos of the ones I love out there.

This was also one of the most epic years I’ve had medically. Three hospitalizations. I broke my left arm in April. I had surgery in June. And after photographing fire season in September I ended up in the ER with the most dangerous asthma attack of my life. But I survived. And as I look back at the fear and pain they only make grateful for this incredible life.

Now…how to organize all this? I’ve narrowed it down to my top 100 photos. And that was painful to do. But it’s still too much. So I am going to post these over the next three days. First off will be all my newspaper work. This includes my Scenics from Montana because frankly, our readers love them, and I’m lucky enough to work at a newspaper that let’s me put these kinds of pretty pictures in the paper. Then photos from the music and entertainment world. And finally, weddings and family stuff.

To everyone who shared this year with me, the good and the bad, thank you. I am so sincerely grateful.
Much love,
Bren

A large snow covered gate makes a frame for a winter scenic near Echo Lake on Thursday morning, January 8. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

Yellow Bay at Flathead Lake

Structure Fire in Evergreen

Glacier National Park

A singing Valentine's from Classic Touch

These two images started with a text from a Deputy that read: Truck in water in Bigfork. I never mind getting woken up at 2 a.m. when I get photos like this out of it.

These two images started with a text from a Deputy that read: Truck in water in Bigfork. I never mind getting woken up at 2 a.m. when I get photos like this out of it.

 

One year anniversary for ImagineIF Library

Eric Michael Krop, one of my favorite local talents.

Eric Michael Krop, one of my favorite local talents.

 

Playing in Puddles

A view of the Northern Lights over Lake McDonald at 11:56 p.m. on Thursday, April 9, in Glacier National Park.

A view of the Northern Lights over Lake McDonald at 11:56 p.m. on Thursday, April 9, in Glacier National Park.

 

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John Dunnigan at the Great Northern Bar in Whitefish, on Thursday, May 14. In the middle of a portrait session Dunnigan looked up, saw a friend and had to wave.

John Dunnigan at the Great Northern Bar in Whitefish, on Thursday, May 14. In the middle of a portrait session Dunnigan looked up, saw a friend and had to wave.

Of my photos of John Dunnigan this was my favorite. But for those who know his personality, the first image is more authentically him.

Of my photos of John Dunnigan this was my favorite. But for those who know his personality, the first image is more authentically him.

 

Structure fire in Columbia Falls. May 2015.

Structure fire in Columbia Falls. May 2015.

 

Memorial Day 2015

A view of Kalispell at sunset from the forth story tower of the Kalispell Fire Department downtown station on Wednesday, May 27.

A view of Kalispell at sunset from the forth story tower of the Kalispell Fire Department downtown station on Wednesday, May 27.

 

Snow in June in Glacier National Park. Oh how I love life in Montana.

Snow in June in Glacier National Park. Oh how I love life in Montana.

 

"Gramma" Jean Livesay, 86, gets a hug from her neighbor James Francis on Friday morning, June 12, in Kalispell. Jean has been waving to students from the window of her Wyoming Street home for two years. For the last week of school she made a sign for her front yard and for Friday, the last day of school, she moved from her window to her front yard to wave at students and parents as they pass by.

“Gramma” Jean Livesay, 86, gets a hug from her neighbor James Francis on Friday morning, June 12, in Kalispell. Jean has been waving to students from the window of her Wyoming Street home for two years. For the last week of school she made a sign for her front yard and for Friday, the last day of school, she moved from her window to her front yard to wave at students and parents as they pass by.

 

I know photographically this photo isn't much. But the story was fantastic. I mean really, how often does one hear the words "airborne" and "minivan" together? The van went off the road, went airborne, and landed on top of the red car. It was funny but that's mainly because no one was seriously hurt.

I know photographically this photo isn’t much. But the story was fantastic. I mean really, how often does one hear the words “airborne” and “minivan” together? The van went off the road, went airborne, and landed on top of the red car. It was funny but that’s mainly because no one was seriously hurt.

 

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A view of the main runway at Glacier Park International Airport. I am amazed sometimes at all the places my work takes me to...places that most people never get to see.

A view of the main runway at Glacier Park International Airport. I am amazed sometimes at all the places my work takes me to…places that most people never get to see.

 

Daniel Kirk's ordination as the new priest for Saint Herman’s.

Daniel Kirk’s ordination as the new priest for Saint Herman’s. I wrote the story for the paper on this one as well as doing the photos. To see more of it go to: https://brendaahearn.wordpress.com/2015/08/14/too-close-to-the-story/

 

A view of the Reynolds Creek Fire near East Glacier on Wednesday, July 22.

A view of the Reynolds Creek Fire near East Glacier on Wednesday, July 22.

 

Steampunk family in downtown Kalispell.

Steampunk family in downtown Kalispell.

 

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The Evergreen fire. August 2015.

The Evergreen fire. August 2015.

 

Smoke from the Thompson Fire in Glacier National Park pours into the sky in this view from Lost Creek Road and Farm-to-Market Road in West Valley. This photo got picked up by the Associated Press and ended up in USA Today. Ironically, this photo was used nationally to illustrate the wildfires in California.

Smoke from the Thompson Fire in Glacier National Park pours into the sky in this view from Lost Creek Road and Farm-to-Market Road in West Valley.
This photo got picked up by the Associated Press and ended up in USA Today. Ironically, this photo was used nationally to illustrate the wildfires in California.

 

Marston Fire

I'm flying in a Blackhawk photographing this Blackhawk. Life is so awesome.

I’m flying in a Blackhawk photographing this Blackhawk. Life is so awesome.

 

This was my first photo back on the job after being in the ER for the most severe asthma attack of my life. Clean blue skies never meant so much to me before.

This was my first photo back on the job after being in the ER for the most severe asthma attack of my life. Clean blue skies never meant so much to me before.

 

One of the most devastating wrecks I have ever seen: The driver of a Budweiser truck takes a moment off to the side of a collision with a Ford f250 truck on September 9, at the intersection of U.S. 93 and Farm-to-Market Road north of Whitefish.

One of the most devastating wrecks I have ever seen: The driver of a Budweiser truck takes a moment off to the side of a collision with a Ford f250 truck on September 9, at the intersection of U.S. 93 and Farm-to-Market Road north of Whitefish.

 

Benghazi Memorial 9/11 ceremony in Bigfork Montana. This was the second year for the event and this year featured a former member of the CIA and founder of the organization DeliverFund, which is a group of former special forces operators now dedicated to rescuing victims of sex trafficking.

Benghazi Memorial 9/11 ceremony in Bigfork Montana. This was the second year for the event and this year featured a former member of the CIA and founder of the organization DeliverFund, which is a group of former special forces operators now dedicated to rescuing victims of sex trafficking. I have written a blog about these guys and their work: https://brendaahearn.wordpress.com/2015/12/03/do-something-good-in-the-world/

 

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Serene Scene along the Flathead River

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Montana Life: Scarecrow Sue

Fall Feature

A colorful sunrise lights up the sky from Fairmont and Kinshella Road east of Kalispell on Thursday morning, October 22. I posted both of these photos to the Daily Inter Lake Facebook page and we let the readers pick which one would run in the paper. The top photo was the hands-down winner.

A colorful sunrise lights up the sky from Fairmont and Kinshella Road east of Kalispell on Thursday morning, October 22.
I posted both of these photos to the Daily Inter Lake Facebook page and we let the readers pick which one would run in the paper. The top photo was the hands-down winner.

 

Fire in Evergreen

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Last year I wrote a story about USMC Captain Wayne Bolton. This year for Christmas Wayne ended up recovering from triple-bypass surgery. But he wasn't alone for the holidays. The Marines turned out to Celebrate Christmas with him. Semper Fi!

Last year I wrote a story about USMC Captain Wayne Bolton. This year for Christmas Wayne ended up recovering from triple-bypass surgery. But he wasn’t alone for the holidays. The Marines turned out to Celebrate Christmas with him. Semper Fi!    Here is a link to the story of Wayne, one of the survivors of the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, Korea: https://brendaahearn.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/remembering-chosin/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do something good in the world…

Here you will find details on your chance to get $100 dollars off family photo sessions  and the rest of the money goes directly to saving a life. (Please note: there are only 14 photo sessions available and you must contact me to confirm you are one of the 14. Details below…)

df_blog_vandykeIn 2005 my beloved friends, Jon and Michelle Duncan, gave me a wonderful Christmas present: a copy of The Story of the Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke. I read it at least once a year. If I only read it once, it’s always around this time. I have loaned this book out on occasion, but I always experience a certain about of trepidation about doing this. I love the story and want to share it, to bless other lives the way mine has been blessed. But I worry that someone won’t understand how precious this battered old book is to me and won’t be careful…

This is one of my favorite stories. It’s the shortest book I own, but I would put it in my top ten of all time, right up there with Man’s Search for Meaning and The Little Prince. There is just something so eloquent about this story…something that stirs the soul and ends with such power and beauty that it is truly magical. And the best part is, it’s so old, and so forgotten that you can get it for free on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Story-Other-Wise-Man-ebook/dp/B0084C98FO/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1449079809&sr=8-2

 When Jon gave me the book he told me, don’t judge the first pages. He cautioned that it takes a little time to get into the story. I’m glad he warned me because without that, I might not have given the book the chance it deserves.

By now you are probably wondering what the heck does this have to do with family photo sessions and discounts. Patience, I promise I’ll explain.

Last night I read my book again. The pages are old and soft and have that yellowish-brown tinge that comes with age. The first time I read the book, I sort of slogged through the beginning. But now, I love every word so much that when I read this book I read it cover to cover. Including the introduction (which is not part of the amazon version).

The Story of the Other Wise Man is a bit of fiction based on the Biblical Magi who travel from the East to find Jesus in Bethlehem. In Van Dyke’s story there was to be a fourth member of that party. But circumstances arise and he is forced to miss departing with his friends and follows later on his own. The story follows the life of Artaban as he searches endlessly for the King. Near the end he faces his final challenge, he can continue his quest or he can save a young girl.

df_blog1I’ve read this over and over. But this year, when I got to the scene where the girl cries out and begs him to save her “for the sake of the God of purity” I couldn’t help but think of DeliverFund.

DeliverFund is a group of former American Special Forces warriors who are taking their incredible knowledge and skill set and applying it to battling sex trafficking.

Here’s their mission statement:
“DeliverFund disrupts global human trafficking markets by combining uniquely qualified personnel with the best technologies, and then leveraging them in new ways to reach and rescue victims of human trafficking.”
Can you imagine this? It’s amazing. We’re talking about the most elite of the American military and intelligence communities, Navy SEALs, CIA, Army Rangers, Delta Force…. These are people who spent years attaining the highest levels of physical preparedness and military training. People who know all about leadership and command and tactics and special operations and counterterrorism. What does one do with that sort of education once their time in the military is over? Well, for these guys the answer is to take what they know, and who they know, and combine their resources and do surveilance and tracking and gathering evidence to give to law enforcement officers to put those who traffic in the selling of women and girls and boys and anyone they can sell for any price, to put them in jail. DeliverFund is out there working to stop the source of it. Not just to rescue a victim and take them out of that hell (though they do that) but to get the pimps and pushers and the genuinely evil off the streets and behind bars.

The girl in the story, when she begs for her life, she says, “Save me from worse than death.”

Worse than death. That is what prostitution is. Every time I think about this, I find myself thinking, I wish I could help. But really, what can I do? I’m one person, and I’m not rich, and I am certainly not capable of helping with the work they do. But I want to help. So…here’s how you can get a great discount on a family photo session and help out with a genuinely worthy cause. I normally do family photos for $250. This is usually around 30 photos. You get a dvd with the images and the right to print them as you see fit. If you will donate $150 to DeliverFund.org  I will do a family photo session for you for free. (There are important restrictions to this! See below.) When you donate through their website you’ll get an electronic receipt. Print that out and give show it to me you’ll get to pick a date and get some new family photos. DeliverFund is a 501C3 so donations are tax deductible. I’m not interested in making any money on these. All of the money will go directly to the charity. And here’s the best part, I talked to one of the founders. A pimp usually runs five girls. The cost to stop one of these monsters is about $10,000. That’s $2000 per victim. I am going to do 14 of these photo shoots. That will raise $2100. That’s one life that is going to be saved. One life! One victim. One person who will no longer live in a hell that is worse than death.

Restrictions! I am only going to do fourteen of these so, contact me asap if you want one. If you donate and fail to contact me to confirm that you are one of the 14, this offer is invalid. You can send me a text at 406.471.7462. The sessions have to be paid for at the time of purchase. Normally, I don’t ask to be paid beyond the deposit until the time of the photo shoot, but this is for DeliverFund and I want it to get it to them by the end of the year. The photo sessions must be scheduled for no later than May 31, 2016, but you don’t have to pick your date right now. Pay for the session and we can figure out the dates later. Beyond May gets into wedding season for me and after May, I’m pretty well booked until the end of autumn. That’s why we have the May 31 deadline. A family photo session is one family – two generations. Maximum number of people = 6. Exceptions can be made, but need to be discussed prior to booking. Larger family groups count as a reunion and are not eligible.

Final note: here a link to a short video about DeliverFund and the work they are doing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YujkCiDl17k&feature=player_embedded
If you want to win excessive amounts of loyalty and admiration from me, make the donation out for more than $150. This is an organization that deserves it. If I could do more, I would….

Thank you all in advance for your consideration. Merry Christmas.

P.S. before anyone comments about consenting adults and what they choose to do, watch the video and listen to the girl. Pretty Woman isn’t reality. It isn’t the prostitute who is in charge.

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