With 2013 in the books and 2014 already looking to be as good or better, this might be considered just another obligatory end-of-the-year blog post. Sorry ’bout that. Nonetheless, I have been wanting to sit down and scratch out a few thoughts and comments on the year that just ended … for my sake as well as yours. And because merely putting my fingers to the keyboard to recap the last chapter and focus on the next one just feels good.
I’m going to cheat a little and start in September of 2012 when I finished shooting a creative project with my friend Lando (see here, here and especially here). Less than 48 hours later I took a rather decisive left turn by beginning a time intensive (200 hour), work-heavy and mentally-taxing Wilderness EMT course offered through Aerie Backcountry Medicine. I received training in swiftwater rescue, improvised litter constructing in the backcountry, mass casualty responding and a ton of emergency medical scenarios. I also spent time on the ambulance and in the ER. At the end of it all, I emerged as a (mentally and physically exhausted) nationally certified EMT. Why did I do this? The reasons are many, but at the top of the list is simply being a smarter and more prepared individual. Also, diving into something that was NOT photo related helped me see things in a different light and reminded me just how much I enjoy photography.
Three weeks following my EMT course, when I had barely caught up on my sleep, my wife and I had our first child. Esti Fallon Kemmis was born at 9:23 a.m. on December 21, 2012. The months following this day were a roller coaster of emotions and the kind of happiness that makes a person cry. Adjusting to life with Esti has been so damn cool that I have to pinch myself sometimes. Yes it’s stressful, exhausting, nerve-wracking, mind-blowing, tiring and challenging, but if there were ever something to make a person feel like they were living life, having a kid is it.
As 2013 marched on, so did the projects. Every month of the year saw 2 or 3 Lando shoots get completed for the 2014 calendar. In March, I also photographed 40+ custom art skateboards for the annual On Deck art show I help put on through my work with the Montana Skatepark Association. I have photographed the decks for this show pretty much since we started doing it eight years ago.
In May I assisted Portland-based photographer Dan Root during Missoula’s (in)famous Maggotfest. This is a several-day-long beer drinking tournament with a little bit of rugby thrown in for good measure. Photo-ops are endless and the characters that descend upon Missoula from all over the world do not mess around. It was great working with Dan and ultimately seeing his finished product on his site. He’s got a great eye, and had a crystal clear vision for the images he wanted to create. Seeing this in action was a good reminder that vision is everything.
I gained a new client in 2013 in Adventurista Designs, a Missoula-based jewelry company. Ironically enough, this spawned out of a friendship I made in my above-mentioned EMT course. Originally, Adventurista wanted some images for use in a booth at a trade show in Salt Lake City. By the end of July I had created lifestyle images and product images from a couple different shoots. These images ended up being used at the trade show and throughout a lookbook … which I also designed for them. All around, this was a great experience and a lot of fun. Most of all, I am proud of the outcome.
Somewhat uncharacteristic for me, I photographed two weddings in 2013. Weddings are not my forte’, but in both situations, the pieces came together seamlessly and it made sense for me. Looking back at the images that I delivered to each couple, I almost think I should be doing more of this work. I genuinely had a good time doing the work and really, really like the results. Not to mention, when one of the brides told me that she had a living room full of family over to view the images for the first time, and everyone ended up crying, it made me feel good. It’s a nice reminder that even though I look at thousands of images in a year, not every one does. And it’s the content and the impact an image has on a viewer that determines its quality. Subjective and powerful.
2013 also saw me continuing my work for the Montana Council of Boy Scouts. “Incredible” is all I can say about the relationship that has grown between myself and the BSA. They have placed a ton of trust in me for two years running, and I believe the images and results speak for themselves. Thanks to my images, the images of another couple of photographers in Montana, a talented designer and a quality development director at the BSA, the MT Council won numerous awards for the quality of their marketing materials as compared to other councils in the US. Considering the numbers and budgets of larger councils, our team has scored a solid victory. I look forward to many, many more shoots – both still and video – with the BSA.
Aside from the above mentioned highlights to my year, I also had numerous images published in local outlets. I have been fortunate enough to work with The Missoula Independent, the Missoula Downtown Association, Destination Missoula, Five Valleys Land Trust, Missoula Economic Partnership and a few other local and regional organizations. Key word in that sentence, by the way, is fortunate.
There were many, many, many more moments that added to my 2013 being one of the most progressive, monumental years of my life, but I have to chop it off here. As I said at the beginning of this post, 2014 is looking to be as good or better. So, to that I say … onward!