Black and white wedding in Glacier National ParkOn of my favorite things with weddings is to go back and pick out photos to re-edit in black and white. When I started out in photography (in 1996) I started on black and white film. Tmax. Tri-X. We used bulk loaders to fill reusable film canisters and chemicals like Dektol and Stop bath and Fixer. One of these days I have to write about my mentor, Tim Webb, who opened my eyes to photography and the amazing world that goes with it. I am always so grateful.

I now shoot everything digitally. Part of this is related to being a newspaper photographer. Newspapers embraced digital early and didn’t look back. Even before the technology was as good as it is now, digital gave the media a new and incredible speed, and journalism loves that. But even though I have no wish to switch back to film, I still love the look of black and white. And so, when I have finished photographing a wedding, I go back through the images and choose favorites (mostly from the portraits) that I believe would be (dare I say) better in black and white. I love color. But monochrome…it will always have a place in my heart.

For Armed Forces Day I was lucky enough to photograph a soldier and his bride in Glacier National Park. To see the color photos from this, you can check out the blog I wrote before this ( I would never want to photograph a wedding on black and white film or with digital in black and white mode. Once you make that choice, the color information is lost. But I’ll happily spend the time with color files to convert them to grayscale and re-tone them. Black and white is elegant and has its own magic. It’s worth the extra time and trouble, and so far, my clients seem to love it. It’s something extra I get to give to them and it connects me to my own photography roots. Win/win.

I’m attaching some comparisons here, black and white vs. color. I have to admit, it’s not entirely a fair comparison, the day of this wedding we had incredibly overcast skies that were hours away from a complete downpour. That made for some wonderful soft light at noon, but it also meant that the colors don’t “pop” the same way they normally do. Still, the side-by-sides show the way black and white really focuses in on the composition of a frame. I love monochrome for this reason.

black and white wedding dress

mother of the bride and bride at Lake McDonald

first kiss in Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park, Lake McDonald wedding on Armed Forces Day

Lake McDonald Lodge wedding day, bride and bouquet

A soldier and his bride and their wedding in Glacier

Montan Veterans Home chapel Army wedding

Montana Veterans Home chapel Army wedding

black and white wedding photos

Glacier Wedding

Glacier National Park wedding

May is a risky month for weddings in Montana. Some days are warm and sunny, some are cold and beautiful, and a lot of days are rainy and dower. There is little in May that can be described as predictable. So it’s touchy scheduling wedding May weddings. The simple truth is, you never know what you are going to get.

Armed Forces Day weddingA few days ago I photographed the wedding of my friend Collin and his bride Miss Liz. We had a perfect day in Glacier National Park with soft light and overcast but dry skies. We didn’t get the dramatic light and bold colors we were all hoping for, but neither did we get doused and that was a win for everyone.

It was the day before that was craziness…

bride and mother

On Friday I was on the phone with both Collin and Liz. I wanted to make sure they didn’t need any last minute details taken care of by me. When I called Miss Liz she was tied in knots about the weather and the predictions for an incoming storm. She didn’t want to cause problems for anyone of the guest, but neither did she want to give up her dream of getting married in Glacier.

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park wedding

For my part, the answer was pretty obvious, go with Glacier. Even if we get rained on. Even if it isn’t what you dreamed of. Buy umbrellas (they bought a dozen clear umbrellas) and go for Glacier and hope for the best.

Armed Forces Day wedding

And the best is what they got. They had there ceremony on the banks of Lake McDonald, bright flowers at the Lodge added a touch of color, and the overcast skies made taking photos at 1230 in the afternoon not a complete photography nightmare. And, as an added bonus, the couple decided to hold two ceremonies. One at Glacier, and then a second at their wedding reception for the people who couldn’t get to the park. More photo ops for me.  😉


I so love that one of the reasons they considered not going to Glacier was out of concern for me and my gear. I am also outrageously happy I was able to tell both these wonderful people that I was good to go and we should take the chance on the mountains and the park.

And it worked. The gamble paid off.

ring detail

One moment I will not soon forget was driving home from the reception, looking south and seeing the storm front moving in. The rains kindly waited until this wedding day was complete. It makes a photographer smile…

Photos by Brenda Ahearn Photography wedding dress

Photos by Brenda Ahearn Photography

Photos by Brenda Ahearn Photography

here comes the bride

best man

Lake McDonald wedding

with this ring

Photos by Brenda Ahearn Photography



Photos by Brenda Ahearn Photography

Glacier National Park wedding

Photos by Brenda Ahearn Photography

Photos by Brenda Ahearn Photography

Photos by Brenda Ahearn Photography

Montana Veterans Home chapel

Photos by Brenda Ahearn Photography

Photos by Brenda Ahearn Photography

Photos by Brenda Ahearn Photography

Photos by Brenda Ahearn Photography

Photos by Brenda Ahearn Photography

Photos by Brenda Ahearn Photography

Montana Veterans Home chapel

Photos by Brenda Ahearn Photography

Montana Veterans Home chapel

Photos by Brenda Ahearn Photography

Photos by Brenda Ahearn Photography

Photos by Brenda Ahearn Photography

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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Sometimes, my job at the Daily Inter Lake is a lot of fun. For Halloween this year, the entertainment editor asked the reporters to do stories about monsters. I don’t normally write, my job is photos. But as I thought about the section and what it would need I thought it could be a lot of fun to write about bridezilla. The story I didn’t have very clearly in my mind, but the photo…I knew exactly what I wanted. And it came together better than I could have dreamed!

From left, Katie Pfennigs, Teryn Waldenberg, Lauren Stoll, Mandy Pokorny, and Nicole Buckallew, pose as "bridezillas" for the monsters edition of This Week in the Flathead. Their make-up was done by Kathleen Francis of Fancy Face Design. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

From left, Katie Pfennigs, Teryn Waldenberg, Lauren Stoll, Mandy Pokorny, and Nicole Buckallew, pose as “bridezillas” for the monsters edition of This Week in the Flathead. Their make-up was done by Kathleen Francis of Fancy Face Design.
(Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

The above is the shot that ran. Here is the story. And below you find more photos of the women looking like the truly beautiful creatures they are. The irony is, two of these are brides I photographed. I know, cause I was there, that they weren’t bridezilla. And the other three are good friends. None of these could ever be bridezilla. I think that’s what I loved best about this photo shoot. These girls all agreed to this when the truth is they are as far from the monster as anyone ever could be.

Beautiful Monsters: Photographer reflects on modern-day Jekyll and Hyde

Oh, Bridezilla. In all my time working as a photographer in Montana, I have never personally encountered this infamous monster. But the stories are the stuff of legend.

This is a strange creature, usually only appearing once per lifetime. TV shows have been made about her. Books and articles have been written how not to become her. Grooms everywhere shudder at the mention of her name. Bridezilla.

Like the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of weddings, as the big day gets closer, the more dangerous it becomes for everyone around her. Normally sane, rational, lovely women are taken over and transformed into the very likeness of the hideous monster! They shout, cry demand. Nothing is good enough. Nothing satisfies. No amount of perfection can sooth them.

The self-induced stress, creates angry, volatile, unpredictable and moody monsters.

Some of you scoff and doubt. But I am a believer. I photograph a lot of weddings. And thus far I have been extremely blessed with the brides I’ve gotten to to photograph (including two of the lovely ladies pictured here). But statistics don’t lie. It’s only a matter of time before I will come face to face with the creature. Maybe you will too. Bridezilla is real.


It’s a goofy story, and for me, the photo was far more important. I wanted something very specific for this image. Elegance. I contacted Kathleen Francis of Fancy Face Design because I love her work. She can create some of the most gorgeous face paintings I’ve ever seen. In reality the number of people who might be up for this kind of make-up on their wedding day is going to be minimal. I explained things to Kathleen I didn’t want her to create Halloween-type monster faces, but rather, I wanted super glamorous make-up. I wanted the only  “monstrous” aspect of this photo to be the expressions on the bride’s faces.

So when the bridezilla shot was done I suddenly had 5 super glammed up girls in gorgeous dress…why wouldn’t we take more portraits? 🙂 The rest of the photos from the night are below. The only disappointment of the night was how fast the light faded. We had an overcast sky and it got dark rapidly.

I’ve been a photographer for 20 years and I can’t even guess how many brides I’ve photographed in that time. I have to say, honestly, this was one of the most fun photo shoots I’ve ever done.