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.

Shrek

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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Looking back: the best of 2014

The end of the year draws nigh. On the one hand, I am finding it difficult to imagine how an entire year got away from me. Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago I was struggling to sign my checks 2014 instead of 2013?

During this holiday week I have been going back through my files from this year to pull together my best of collection from images for the Daily Inter Lake. I’ll use this same set of photos to decide what entries I want to submit for our annual newspaper competition. The great thing about this is, that even though I feel the days fled far too swiftly, I look back at all that was accomplished and I’m suddenly ok with the changing of the calendar. 2014 was good. So now, before I jump into 2015, I want to take this moment to post my favorite photos from this year.

Most of these are going to be chronological. Most. One exception. This first image is a combination of work. The moon and star is an image I captured from Big Mountain, in Whitefish Montana on April 15th. The “Blood Moon.” My fellow Daily Inter Lake photographer, Patrick Cote, was south of Kalispell photographing the same thing. He created the sequence of shots.

Blood Moon over Whitefish

Some of these photos are going to have notes or short stories. But many times, I am going to simply let the image speak for itself. After all, photojournalism is supposed to be about story-telling images, I’m going to them tell their own stories. At least, that is my plan at this point…

Washing Windows

Sunset Peaks

Flathead Girls vs CMR

Boys Basketball: Flathead vs Missoula Hellgate

Class AA State Speech and Debate Award Ceremony

Newspaper work involves an unbelievable amount of driving around, randomly searching for subject matter. You drive the speed limit, even a bit bellow, carefully scanning for signs of some human out living their life. It’s called wild art and most photographers that I have met, hate it. It’s hard. Sometimes you are looking for hours and there are just no people. That’s when you get desperate and start looking for pretty leaves, crazy squirrels, interesting bugs, anything!… Winter is particularly hard. In the summer everyone is outside, in the cold…not so much. That’s when finding a kid out playing street hockey in the middle of the road feels like a prayer has been answered! Yeah! A person! A person outside! A person outside doing something! A person outside doing something that I can photograph for the front page! Thank God my job is saved….

Snowy Street Hockey

Scene from a homicide in Hungry Horse on Valentine’s Day.

Fatal Shooting in Hungry Horse

Profile: Travis Davison

Trumpeter Swans on Flathead Lake

Pond Hockey Tournament

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Crosstown

Hope for Noah

All Saints' Episcopal Church Annual Chili Open and Golf Tournament

My friend Jake Bramante has not only hiked all 734 miles of trail in Glacier National Park, he created a map and hiking guide based on his personal experience. This guy is fantastic. If you are day dreaming of a trip to Montana to see the famous park check out www.hike734.com

New Map of Day Hikes from Jake Bramante and Hike 734

Zachary Klundt in Court

Wrestling: Glacier vs Helena High

Little Guy Wrestling

This photo is a sunrise over Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park. I like this first version. But I keep getting out voted. Most people like the second version. Including USA Today. Montana was voted the state with the most pride and they used on of my photos to illustrate the story. 🙂

http://archive.courier-journal.com/usatoday/article/8140879

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Stocking the pond at Dry Bridge Park

Hiking the Highline

Lunch at Logan Pass

Easter at Fresh Life Church. Followed by Pastor Levi Lusko preaching.

Fresh Life Easter

Fresh Life Easter

Swing dancing is one of the great loves of my life. This is my instructor Peter Flahiff, dancing with my friend Miss Caitlin Hills.Dancing the night away

 

Drop Everything and Move at Hedges

Montana SunsetSunset view of Big Mountain

Montana Spartan Sprint Race 2014Florence Nightingale's Birthday

 

This Week in the Flathead: Bibler Gardens

Just another day of driving down the road in Montana…

Bear in Glacier

Memorial Day Ceremony in Columbia Falls

Sunset StrollMontana High School Rodeo State Finals

 

Montana High School Rodeo State Finals

Harlow

Not all the stories are fun. There was a fire at a local mill. In the initial reports 60 people were unaccounted for. This is the group of guys who got in my face and tried to physically intimidate me in an attempt to keep me from taking photographs. I understand the high emotions of the day, but I have a job to do, even when some people don’t like me doing my job.

Fire at Plum Creek

 

 

Mary Lloyd Retires

Father's Day

Montana Life: The Lens Hub

This Week in the Flathead: Swing Dancing Style

This Week in the Flathead: Swing Dancing Style

Deer at Dawn

Deer at Dawn

Sunrise Meadow

Driving up to North Glacier

Every year, when Going-to-the-Sun Road is finally plowed and opened to the public, the first vehicle in is one of the famed red buses. Rhonda Hendricks, always wanted to be on one of those first buses. This year, with months to live, Hendricks got her wish. Here is the caption:

Rhonda Hendricks takes in the view of the Logan Pass Visitor Center from the famous red bus that carried her and her family up Going-to-the-Sun Road, officially opening the road for the season, on Tuesday, July 2, in Glacier National Park. Hendricks’ family managed to keep the surprise bus tour a secret until the day of. Doug Hendricks, her husband commented that is was wonderful to see her so grateful that she became tearful. The ride was a highly emotional one. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

Opening the Road

Fourth of July Golf Tournament

Moonset

Photographing fly fishing is kind always special to me. I loved the book A River Runs Through It, and although this isn’t that river, there is just something about fly fishing in Montana. Later this year, I got to go on float trip/fly fishing expedition. I caught my first fish! It was spectacular. Cold. But worth it.

Montana Life: Cork Coffee Mug

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National Dance Day

Double Rainbow over Flathead Lake

The home coming of pilot of No. 6  Major Jason Curtis, a graduate of Flathead High School, and the United States Air Force Thunderbirds was one of the biggest stories of the year. The Tunderbirds performed for two days at the air show which was attended by 25,000 people.

Major Jason Curtis returns to Flathead High School

Thunderbirds Practice

Mountain Madness Air ShowMountain Madness Air Show

Mountain Madness Air Show

North End Swing's annual Smooth Sailing event

Acknowledging Veterans of the Korean War

Cabo Survivor Returns to Montana

Glacier Starscape

2nda Annual Pink Me Up Run

Creston Sunrise

Fire Prevention Week

Black Swan Cygnets

Fall Football Fun

Profile: Halladay Quist

Veteran Profile: James Edmiston

Veterans Day at Whitefish High School

Glacier vs C.M. Russell: State Championships

Glacier vs C.M. Russell: State Championships

 

 

Profile: Micah Groschupf

Hockaday figurines at the KM Building

Montana Life: Freeman Leather

Montana Life: Freeman Leather

This final portrait is of my favorite story of the year. Mr. Wayne Bolton is a former Untied States Marine who survived the battle of the Chosin Reservoir. I got to tell his story in both words and images. https://brendaahearn.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/remembering-chosin/

Remembering Chosin