Brenda Ahearn is an award-winning photojournalist currently making her home in Vero Beach, Florida. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Eastern Kentucky University with a major in journalism and a minor in philosophy. In her various newspaper positions she has been a frequent contributor to the Associate Press and her pictures have been seen nationally and internationally as well as in prestigious publications like The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Time magazine and others.
She has a passion for meeting people and hearing their stories, for building connections, and for dramatic lighting. She is known for her willingness to be awake at all hours of the day or night in search of compelling visuals and unique moments, rising to the challenge of images that demand circumstances outside the typical 9-5 workday.
The orienting disciplines of Brenda’s life are photography and visual exploration paired with strong ethics and abiding faith. She is a “life-long learner,” a term she first encountered at university. The goal of inspiring students to desire knowledge beyond the traditional classroom setting — completely voluntary and self-initiated — became such a passion point for her that she adopted it as one of her own deeply held practices. She is a keeper of journals, and explorer of art forms, an avid researcher, and a daily reader. Having grown up in Saudi Arabia she loves to travel and has visited 16 countries. She has also completed two major solo treks — 5 months alone in Western Europe, and a month long pilgrimage in Israel.
Brenda loves the opportunity to combine her skills with causes she cares about including partnering with organizations such as: DeliverFund (anti-human trafficking), the Flathead Marines, Glacier Symphony and Chorale, the Alpine Theatre Project, the Crown of the Continent Guitar workshops, and her local church. She has also served as a keynote speaker at networking events, photography clubs and has been a guest lecturer for photography and journalism classes at both the secondary and collegiate levels.
“We are so happy with the photos Brenda did of our family. She made a chaotic shoot with 7 of us look amazing!”
— Kristy Geislerings
A Little Bit More About Brenda, in Her Own Words
Some Quirky Fun Facts About Me
I love personality tests. I take them rather obsessively, from the Gallup Strengths assessment to those little fun ones that pop up in my Facebook newsfeed. I usually come out as an artist, dreamer or logician and always as an introvert. But there was this one time (when I must have been in one heck of a mood) I was awarded one of the rarest categories (only 0.004% of the population) “Criminal Mastermind” and I was warned that my tendency to plot may end up leading to my downfall.
I’m also the kind of person who falls into fascination. I can spend an hour easily playing with a fiber optic lamp like this one, just to see what kinds of odd compositions I can create. Life is in the details.
The Photograph I am Most Proud Of
It’s nearly impossible to narrow a lifetime of images down to one and say “This is the one that defines me.” As I sorted through photos, I kept coming back to this image. Not because it’s beautiful, or challenging, or one that shows off my particular skillset. I picked this one for the story.
At 3:30 a.m. in the morning I got a call from a local deputy. I slept through that first phone call, but he knows me well enough to be persistent. Deputy Vander Ark called because he and local law enforcement officers were going to be running lights their lights through downtown at 5 a.m. as they took part in the official escort for United States Marine Cpl. Donavon Macura to Buffalo Hill Funeral Home.
Macura, a 2016 graduate of Glacier High School, had died on a training run while stationed in Japan a few weeks earlier.
Macura was transported from Japan to Spokane, Washington. From there local law enforcement agencies escorted him through Washington to the Idaho border. Idaho State Police took him through Idaho to the Montana border. Macura’s escort was met at the Idaho border by Sgt. Shawn Smalley of the Montana Highway Patrol at 3 a.m. On his way to Kalispell Sgt. Smalley reached out to local law enforcement asking if anyone was available to join the convoy for its final leg. He was only able to give them about two hours notice and the local officers turned out in force to honor the young Marine.
In November 2019 I will have worked for the Daily Inter Lake for 10 years. What I’m most proud of is the relationships formed with my local first responders. This photograph proved enormously popular on social media, but what mattered most to me were the comments by Macura’s family. This image of their loved one being honored meant something to them. And that means everything to me.
The Top Five Photos That Stirred My Soul
NUMBER ONE The light coming into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. I’ve spent decades of my life dreaming of going on pilgrimage to the Holy Land and now that I have finally made my first trip there, it was worth every effort to be in the place and to witness that miraculous light.
NUMBER TWO Seeing the Aurora Borealis for the first time in Glacier National Park. Now that I’ve seen the sky dance, I can completely understand people who travel to the far northern countries for a better look at the wondrous Northern Lights.
NUMBER THREE Sailing in a wooden boat across Lake Ontario. The sound of the waves and ropes and canvas. The way the boat sliced through the waves with only by the wind. It felt like we were not in control at all, but really a part of the storm and the water and fading light. Someday, I am going to go sailing on the ocean. That is my next wish.
NUMBER FOUR Flying over Glacier National Park at sunrise. One year I got to go up over the Park for my birthday, the clouds and light were dramatic and constantly changing. Up there, the words of John Gillespie Magee will perfectly fill your soul. “…and, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod the high interspersed sanctity of space, put out my hand and touched the face of God.
NUMBER FIVE Totality. The Great American Eclipse gave me my first chance to see a total eclipse of the Sun. It was eerie and powerful and unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. I am already planning where I want to be for the next eclipse in American, which is coming in 2024.