I was recently given a series of questions to answer for the Contributors Corner of 406 Woman Magazine. My first two articles for them will appear in the next issue. Ironically, I think they sum up a lot of what my life as a photojournalist has been. So, I’m sharing these here before the photos.
Photojournalist Profession: Whitefish, Montana Resides: My brushes with history include photographing three U.S. Presidents (one in the presence of the White House Press Corps – the most intense and aggressive photographers on the planet!) various national leaders, and once being hugged by a king. My work has appeared around the world via the Associated Press as well as in the Notable Accomplishments: Washington Post, USA Today and TIME magazine. Journalism has opened such incredible doors for me, given me access to moments and encounters I would otherwise never have gotten to experience. A journalist’s love of the “decisive moment,” a phrase coined by Henri Carteir-Bresson. I love the light, but for me, the most important element when photographing a person is always found in their expressions. Sometimes there is only a split second between a real smile and a performed smile. I live for those moments when I capture the real and true person. It always feels like a privilege to be so trusted. My work always includes: heading out to capture the sunrise. It is a time of day so filled with hope. I will take my camera and my journal and head out into Glacier, or anywhere really. Get to where I want to be, and then wait and hope the light will do something magical (which it so often does). Finally, when the light is fully up and I’ve captured my photos, then I want to just be outside thinking and praying and absorbing the lessons of the day. For that, there is no better tool than a journal. I’ve been keeping journals since April 2001, so I now have more than 100 of these books filled. My favorite outdoor activity is:
People, Places & Unforgettable Moments:
Bernadette Binoya Fuhst of the Philippines throws her head back joyfully after receiving a small American Flag as well as her American Citizenship certificate. The naturalization ceremony, held on the banks of Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park, is just steps away from iconic landscapes of Northwest Montana. The joy on the faces of all involved is palpable.
Jack Herford, 22, has been climbing for 9 years. Originally from Flagstaff, Arizona he is in the Flathead Valley for an extended visit an is a member at RockFish Climbing and Fitness in Whitefish.
Aaron Vega, left, and Nicholas Ward rehearse a scene from Big River for the Alpine Theatre Project, in Whitefish, Montana.
Left: portrait of Matthew Bussard owner of the Azul Coffee Bar. In addition to his coffee bar he is known for his work as guitarist for the local rock band the New Wave Time Trippers. Right: Josh Fields a former professional baseball infielder. Fields was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 2004. He is currently serving on the Whitefish Police Department. Personal Note: the portrait of Josh Fields was more of a challenge than it looks. This was done on location at his house in a super small office where he kept his baseball memorabilia. Finding a way to create a compelling photograph of him in that space and yet have it not look cramped was quite the challenge.
John Manuel and Lauren Welch perform “Lift Every Voice and Sing” in the 15th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center. Ina Albert, of Love Lives Here, the organization that helped start the annual celebration, said “Whitefish has become a poster child of how to combat racism and neo-Nazism through community engagement and making art.”
A pair of deer silhouetted against the stormy skies at sunset. Personal Note: I’ve included this photograph because I love it, but also because at my first post-collegiate job working for Northern Arizona University, I worked with a wonderful designer who mentored me about the importance of collaboration between the photographs and other graphic elements like text. I often think of him when I am photographing, trying to see beyond the moment to the final publication. Phil would have loved an image like this that gives him space graphic design.
Erica von Kleist plays the sax at the sound check for the The Love Lives Here Annual Martin Luther King Celebration at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center. Personal Note: My father was a United States Marine. I was raised with the “early is on time – on time is late – late is unacceptable” mentality and it has served me well. This is a shot I could never get while the performance is happening, but because I arrived early I caught this sound check and was able to enjoy locations I’m not allowed to stand once the show is underway.
Kalispell Police Officer Colton Bagnoli gets high fives from attendees at the annual Fourth of July Parade in downtown Kalispell, Montana.
Dan Getman closely examines a cherry tree leaves while on a tour of cherry orchards in Yellow Bay, Montana. The tour was part of the Montana State University Extension Office Sweet Cherry Trails — a collaboration between Extension Agent Pat McGlynn and local orchards to establish six research plots on grower’s orchards and to aid in the sustainability of the Flathead Cherry industry.
Local radio personality Leah Lindsay. In addition to her daily commitments to local broadcasts Lindsay has again been voted the Best Volunteer in the Best of the Flathead readership poll. Lindsay regularly gives her voice to local causes and fundraisers serving as emcee.
Dan Holguin, a framer with RDJ Brothers Inc., of Bigfork, working in the early morning at the Kalispell Regional Medical Center.
Alice, one of seventeen members of the Africa Children’s Choir, enjoys swinging on a sunny afternoon at the Whitefish Church of the Nazarene. The choir will be perfroming a free concert tonight at Christ Lutheran Church of Whitefish. The children in this choir, ages 7 to 9, are all from Uganda. Personal Note: this is one of the images I am most proud of. Not because I did anything spectacular, but because of the community response. I was invited to come photograph the children by a the church sponsoring this visit. They reached out to me because reservations for the concert were so low and they desperately needed more attention for the event. I caught this image, it ran on the front page and the next evening there were so many people at the concert that some people had to sit in the aisles. For me, this image will always remind me of the reasons that community journalism is indispensable.
Kevin Van Dort of Missoula sits under a tree at Flathead Lake Lodge playing guitar during the Crown Guitar Workshop in Bigfork, Montana.
Right: Winnie Hanson, 2, of Polson, was sure having fun watching for the troops of the Montana National Guard 495th on her grandfather’s shoulders (Todd Morigeau). The family was at the Glacier Jet Center Saturday night awaiting the flight that would bring Winnie’s dad, Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Hanson home from the nine-month deployment to Afghanistan. Left: Lasso tricks during the Bigfork Fourth of July Parade.
Portrait of Gregg Scott of the Maji Cooperative. Maji Cooperativeis an organization that grew out of a request for help with getting clean water to an African village from Catholic Priest Fr. Hugo of Mwanamonga, Tanzania. The request was made while Fr. Hugo was serving in Central Montana.
Mark McCrady, band director for Whitefish High School with students.
A fire that ranged over six acres, burned three houses and had 14 fire agencies and two helicopters responding was started by a dropped cigarette butt. This is the view from atop the Evergreen Fire and Rescue ladder truck as a Department of Natural Resources and Conservation helicopter dumps water on the scene. Personal Note: one of the things I am most proud of from my time here in Montana is the close working relationships I’ve formed with local first responders. By being respectful, I’ve earned many privileges, including shots like this, from a vantage point normally not accessible to members of the media or members of the public.
Korean Consulate General Moon Duk-ho shakes hands with Korean War Army veteran Mickey McHugo at the Montana Veterans Home in Columbia Falls. Moon Duk-ho gave 32 Korean War veterans and/or their surviving spouses medals and certificates to honor their service in that war.
U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., tours the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company plant in Columbia Falls, Montana. The congressman has provided one of the voices to consistently speak out against having the plant be designated a Superfund site due to the cyanide, fluoride and other metals that have been detected in the soil. Covering 40 acres of floor space the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company is the largest building in Montana.
Glacier science teacher and grant co-writer Sarah Conner and Megan Hornby working on the DNA Barcoding lab at Glacier High School. “”High school students don’t usually get to do labs like this, let alone freshmen,” said Conner.
Kathryn Rossi looks up and smiles as she gets to play with DeWitt Flemming Jr. doing the Groovetrail Jazz Camp at the Whitefish High School. Flemming is a tap dancer and drummer based in New York who came out to work with the students at the request of Erica von Kleist.
Jeff Russell of Teakettle Mining in his bitcoin mining facility near Columbia Falls, Montana.
A family visits The Moving Wall Vietnam Veterans Memorial temporarily on display in Whitefish, Montana. The Moving Wall is a nationally touring replica of the the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. This year the Moving Wall is focused on bringing attention to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund which is working to raise $85 million to construct and open the Education Center at The Wall which will display the more than 400,000 items have been left in memory of the 58,282 names on the Wall, as well as countless others who served.
Portrait of Rabbi Allen Secher in his home in Whitefish, Montana. Secher knew Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and was one of the Freedom Riders during the Civil Rights Movement. He is one of the last surviving rabbis that was part of the largest American incarceration of rabbis. Sixteen were jailed in St. Augustine, Florida in 1964 as they used non-violent means to fight for desegregation. Secher is a cofounder of Love Lives Here.
Governor Steve Bullock visits Columbia Falls High School as part of the third annual Back to School Tour. The Tour highlights efforts to better prepare students for college and careers.
Cedar Vance with one of her horses at her home north of Whitefish. Vance, who was born with Down Syndrome, recently won the silver medal in the women’s alpine skiing advanced giant slalom at the Special Olympics World Winter Games at Hochwurzen ski resort, in Schladming, Austria.
Glacier science teacher Austin Robbins helps students with their DNA Barcoding lab at Glacier High School.
Portrait of Nathan Brown in his home in Kalispell, Montana. Brown wears a hat with a badge that reads, “Bomb Squad: If you see me running, try to keep up” reminiscent of his time working in explosive ordnance disposal for the U.S. Army.
The Milky Way makes its way across the skies over Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park. In 2017 Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park announced that it has achieved provisional Gold Tier designation through the International Dark Sky Association.
View of the underside of the wheat silos at the CHS Mountain West Co-op in the Glacier Rail Park in Kalispell, Montana. The silos hold locally grown wheat after the fall harvest which is then put in rail cars bound for Lewiston, Idaho, where it will be put on barges and sent to the West Coast according to Kim Morisaki of Montana West Economic Development.
Les Kodlick is a corporate communications consultant serving clients in a variety of industries. Before private consulting, the general served in the Air Force for almost 30 years, retiring from the Pentagon as the Director of Public Affairs. He was the service’s top spokesman, responsible for the Air Force’s entire communication operation, and led a career field of 5,500 Airmen and civilians.
Performers from the Bigfork and Whitefish Dance and Acrobat Studios join forces for the Bigfork Fourth of July Parade.
Daddy’s Little Helper — Neil Molter watches as his 3-year-old daughter CeCe helps him make measurements for the new ballet studio barres at Noble Dance in Kalispell, Montana.
Portrait of local musician Nick Spear at Crush in downtown Whitefish, Montana.
Luke Walrath of the Alpine Theatre Project stands in the center of the dance floor space in their new space, The Garage, in Whitefish, Montana.
The members of Rhythm & Ramble goof around while gathering for a portrait at the Sassafras Ballroom in Kalispell, Montana.
Ben White dances with Jenna Applegarth at Eastside Stomp in Seattle, Washington. Ben and Jenna have made several trips to teach in Montana including co-leading a lindy hop workshop in Bozeman in May of 2012.
Portrait of Ann Payne at the historic Conrad Mansion in Kalispell, Montana.
Members of the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team come together for a group photo as the Homeland Security Team helicopter they had been training with takes off in the background from the top of the Hungry Horse Dam. Personal Note: At the time this photo was taken I had been volunteering to photograph the SWAT Team for at least a few years. Most of the guys knew me pretty well. So when I realized where the helicopter was going to take off I very quickly yelled for everyone to gather for a group photo. As a rule, I like to have everyone take off their sunglasses when being photographed, but we literally had seconds for this. The only reason the shot worked is because of the relationship we’ve built so that when I ask them to hurry, they trust my judgment and do it.
Left: Portrait of actress Amanda Duff Caldwell in full Patsy Cline regalia in Whitefish, Montana. Center: Saint Patrick’s Day portrait of Doyle Carr, Pipe Sergeant of The Montana Highlanders Association Bagpipe Band at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church in Kalispell, Montana. Right: Studio portrait of former United States Marine Corporal Re Richards.
Citizen Science Coordinator Jami Belt of the Glacier National Park, Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center displays a 15 millimeter dragon fly larvae. The larvae were being collected to observe the amount of methyl mercury they contain.
Andrew Beck of the Libby Department of Natural Resources and Conservation working close to the flames as they train near Marion, Montana.
Assistant Fire Chief Bill Tidwell keeping the annual vigil for the victims of 9/11 along Montana Highway 35 on Tuesday morning, September 11. The vigil begins at 6:46 a.m. — the time when the first plane hit the World Trade Center — and concludes at 8 p.m. According to Fire Chief Gary Mahugh approximately 20 volunteers will take part in the roadside memorial. Mahugh said, “We do this because we will never forget and we encourage the country as a whole to never forget. We lost 343 sisters and brothers who were racing into the buildings as others raced out. And we’ve lost many more since then due to complications from serving that day.”
Soara-Joye Ross performs in Yuletide XVI, the sixteenth annual production by the Alpine Theatre Project in Whitefish, Montana.
Left to right: Janet Kigilyuk, Paulina Carbajal-Jepsen, and Lauryn Vornbrock, along with members of Barb Andersen’s third grade class, wait anxiously outside Super 1 Foods in Kalispell, Montana. Students at Elrod Elementary borrowed 300 bags and decorated them with Earth Day themed art. The decorated bags will be given to customers starting at 8 a.m. on Thursday. Personal Note: this photograph was picked up by USA Today, which does not publish in Montana. I only learned about it because an editor called the teacher to confirm the spellings of the names. Miss Anderson sent me a bouquet of flowers and a thank you for the “national photo.” I had to call her to ask what she meant. This was an honor, but again, it is a cherished memory for me of the power of journalism, even in a small town like this one.
Violist Paul Coletti warms up before the start of the rehearsal with Glacier Symphony at the Performing Arts Center in Whitefish, Montana.
Portrait of Mikey Winn at the O’Shaughnessy Center in Whitefish, Montana. Winn is a well known face in the arts community based on his work with the Alpine Theatre Project, the Viscosity Theatre Cabaret and others.
Gavin McCaig and Abby Cockrell of the Northern Ballet in Leeds, England, perform in the 2019 Noble Dance performance of “The Nutcracker” at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center.
Glacier’s Josia Bumgarner (7), kicks the ball under pressure from Flathead’s Jakob Leuthe (16) during their game. Glacier won the match up 1 to 0.
Joe Arnone of Kalispell races in the Men’s Masters 40+ race in the Great Northern State 1 Criterium in Whitefish, Montana.
From right, Jessica Cherry, a senior, McKenna Hulslander, a sophomore, Bailey Rigg, and Hailey Ruggles, both juniors and members of the Glacier student section cheers during the Class AA State Championship game between Glacier and C.M. Russell.
Juliana “the Shark” Sproles of Ojai, Calif., jumps over the Fire Jump as she nears the finish line at the Spartan Race in Bigfork, Montana. Personal Note: This image was purchased by TIME magazine for a story about various Spartan Races around the country.
Drew Hollinger of Bigfork, Montana comes through two gates on his first run through the beginner slalom at the Bigfork annual Whitewater Festival.
Mission Valley’s Xavier Morigeau, 23, sends dust and his helmet flying as he slides into third base during the game against Anacortes in Kalispell, Montana.
Flathead sophomore Stephanie Wilson (12) fights for a jump ball during the game against CMR in Kalispell, Montana.
Flathead senior Garth West (54) shoot for two under pressure from Hellgate junior Pat Colberg during their game in Kalispell, Montana.
Flathead’s Andrew Klinginsmith focuses on the ball during his match against Glacier Jordan Bridwell at the AA Divisionals at FVCC.
Bigfork senior Christian Ker (16) pushes away a Loyola defender as he prepares to make a pass under pressure during their game in Bigfork, Montana.
Stillwater junior Joseph King (10) center celebrates a goal with teammates during overtime in the game against Yellowstone County Christan Homeschool in the 2013 MCAA Soccer Tournament. Stillwater won the match up in overtime 6 to 4.
Coach and father Scott Wilson of Polson cheers as his son Trent Wilson wins the championship round of the novice 80 weight class of the at the Little Guy State Wrestling tournament at the Northwest Montana State Fairgrounds.
James Irish of Lewiston, Montana, rides Easy Does It for a score of 73 at the Northwest Montana Fair Rodeo in Kalispell.