FOR THE FAMILY

A young Bozeman couple’s journey through parenthood

Years ago while working as a staff photographer for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, I documented the journey of a young couple who were about to have their second child here in Bozeman. I was looking for a long-term family photography project. Something that would challenge me to slow down and really tell an in depth story through pictures and sound. I needed to do a personal project even if I wasn’t quite sure what I would end up with. Happenstance came upon meeting Rosie, who would later introduce me to her sister Knikka and husband Chris. They were gracious enough to trust me from the start and welcome me into their home.

Timing can be a funny thing. My project would start much sooner than expected.
That night, after our initial conversation, Knikka went into labor. I raced over to meet her and Chris at The Birth Center in Bozeman, Montana at 1:30 am to watch their new daughter, “Ryleigh” be born.

What an amazing thing to witness…the birth of a child.

I began this family photography project because overall I was drawn by the sense of family Knikka and Chris had. I was interested to document this stage of their lives. Not being a father myself, I wanted to glimpse into the world of a young family hustling to raise a family in the time of economic hardship and uncertainty. Rosie had just flown out from Connecticut to help her sister Knikka and her husband Chris become adjusted to life with a 3-year-old and soon-to-arrive newborn. For the parents, Knikka and Chris, it was balancing the needs of their children while juggling their own relationship, education and family life. Each was working on their degrees while attending college at Montana State University.

It takes a village to raise a child.

The running theme in my head was “It takes a village to raise a child.” I had many different facets to document and I put no limits on myself. I also had no agenda or a deadline. This was a different approach to storytelling than I am used to documenting. So much of what I did at newspapers was to rush around making deadlines. The growing trend of small editorial staffs, budget cuts and big workloads increasingly prevented editorial staff from doing more of these in depth documentaries.

This was a intimate, personal story.

One with no clear end or direction in sight. Having a family isn’t anything new. There weren’t any big news hooks to it. It was just their story and their life. A story I felt was worth telling through family photography. Through the countless hours I spent watching and documenting this family, I came to learn a lot about them and realized their path in life could easily have been a very different darker one. I focused my approach on telling the journey of the parents Chris and Knikka. I wanted to show how their unexpected journey into parenthood changed them, derailed their previous path of substance abuse and switched course to give their kids the best life they could give them. This multimedia video is the result.
I hope you enjoy it. -M
-To read the story and see more photos you can view them on the Bozeman Daily Chronicle website.