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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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

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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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