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Capitalizing on a recent break in the rainy weather, I met up with Allison and Matt to make some fun engagement photos of them and their pup in the beautiful Hyalite Canyon just outside of Bozeman, Montana.

Over these last few months, I’ve had the pleasure to get to know these two.

They recently moved to Bozeman from Davis, Montana where they attended school as Ecology grad students. Back during my time working in California newspapers, I too lived in Davis and as we got to know each other, we quickly realized we had many overlapping UC Davis friends and shared leisure activities. We quickly hit it off and had a blast exploring the scenic local landscape during our photo session. These two are great.

And their big wedding day is quickly approaching. I’m looking forward to documenting and celebrating them in a couple weeks for their Springhill Pavilion wedding day! -M

To see all of their engagement photos from our session click here.

Last week I was able to travel up to Anchorage, Alaska to photograph an extended Family Day in the Life photo session with my brother Eric, sister-in-law Brandy and their young family. The new Greener heir has been born! My new nephew Paul is a little over a month old and the trip was my first time meeting him. It was fun to embed into the world of a young family’s experience raising two kiddos. Despite the occasional fuss from my stinking cute two-year-old niece Molly, the majority of the time giggles and laughter could be heard throughout the house. These two are natural parents and it was fun for me to help out where I could while documenting their family experience. It’s a cool new thing for me in my role as an uncle. It’s the ultimate long-term photo project. A lifetime photographing all of the fun with my niece and nephew. I’m just thrilled! We had a great time and my arms are tired from holding and bouncing babies! Someday I’ll get dad arms. Here are some favorite photos I made of my family during my stay. I can’t wait until the next time I can head back up. -M

 

I had the pleasure of joining the Rigard Family for some long overdue family portraits at Hyalite Canyon near Bozeman, Montana. Jen and Ryan have been friends of mine for years and I was honored when they hired me to photograph their family. We explored the areas around the reservoir and played around in the evening sun light. I was really pleased with how they turned out. Here are some of my favorites from the day. -Mike

It’s amazing to me how busy we all can get wrapped up in our own lives. We are all guilty of it. While my parents are living close by in Missoula, my brother Eric and his wife Brandy are starting their new family in Anchorage, Alaska with their new daughter Molly. My sister has been busy working to finish her veterinarian school in Colorado. The Greener clan has been spread out over the last couple of years and we only manage to see each other once a year. So when the opportunity to meet up last week in Missoula with my siblings, their families, my parents and grandma, naturally I wanted to bring my camera to document the rare family gathering. We were more concerned about hanging out and playing with my niece who is turning into a fun little kid. We kept things casual and I made pictures when the creativity struck. Time flies when you are having fun and living life. Blink and eye and nieces, puppies and the rest of us all grow up. We had a lot of fun spending time together and I will cherish these moments. These are the good times. Here are a few of my favorites. -M

Here are some photos to help you think warm thoughts on this chilly December day. Earlier this summer in between all of my weddings, I made some family portraits of family friends Bob and Sydney and their sons. The two were good college friends of my parents during their time at the University of Montana back in the 1970’s. Great people. I headed over to their grandparent’s beautiful horse property in Livingston, Montana. Horses turned out to be a big theme for the day. I arrived to find a full household of their family glued to the television with intensity to watch American Pharoah Win The Belmont horse race. Before photo shoot began, I joined them in cheering on the moving horse and rider figures on the screen. Their excitement was infectious. I learned that they have a long family history of raising race horses, a labor of love business upheld by their grandfather. A dime tour of their house and backstories by Bob revealed decades worth pictures of celebrated horses, race memorabilia, and memories. It was fascinating. After an exciting finish to the race, we headed outside into the pristine Montana summer weather. Keeping in theme with the day, their sons bridled up their two favorite horses and we walked around the property making some fun family photos with equines in tow. I still geek out on the great light we had that afternoon. Here are some favorite family portraits I made of them that day. -M

 

Southwest Montana had an exceptionally long stretch of Fall colors this past season. I was fortunate enough to be able to get out to photograph all of its grandeur with a few late-season weddings and a couple family portrait sessions like these of my friend Beth and her family. An old friend from my days at The University of Montana, she now works here in Bozeman and they wanted to make some fun family portraits before the rains came. We found some time to go out for a walk in a nearby park on the outskirts of Bozeman. The setting sun mixed with the range of green, yellow and orange colors made for some sweet light to photograph in. Fall days don’t get much better in my book. Here are some of my favorite photographs I made from their family photo shoot. Thanks for looking, -M

Finding a window of opportunity with two extra days off from the newspaper this week, I packed up my gear and headed over to Missoula, Montana to visit my family yesterday afternoon. My parents had informed me that my Grandma Jean was being honored for 50 years of volunteering for a PEO (which is womens philanthropy sorority) and they wanted a nice portrait of her. Enter photographer grandson. I wanted to show people the grandma I know and love. The one who giggles at her own stories, the one who cooked our amazing family meals and a the formatable opponent who dominated the countless family boardgames growing up. It was a chance to photograph my second mother. I was excited about this photo shoot. I began by looking over her wardrobe. When making portraits of people, I always want them to wear clothing that is simple and not distracting. Remember it’s about the faces and not the clothing. I choose a solid navy color, non-pattern sweater for her (that also happened to make her blue eyes pop, bonus!) and choose similar color palette for Aca (my grandpa). He is a man that appreciates his flannel. A good trait by any other circumstances except for portraits with other people. I want the viewers eye to go right to the person’s face. not the pattern of their shirt. Different patterns on shirts can clash too easily with each other. Tip – This can be a good thing to remember when photographing your own family. I chose the most simple pattern I could find and set them against a blue piece of sewing material borrowed from my mom. I liked the effect of blue on blue. From there it was all about capturing the interaction between the two of them. They will have been married for 58 years this June. One of the immediate benefits to photographing a family member is that you know just the right way how to make them laugh. It didn’t take long. The end result are photographs I think really captured their personalities. Looking over these again, realized I am really going to cherish these for the rest of my days. So glad I was able to finally do it. Hope you like them as much as I do. -M

Happy New Year folks!

I don’t shoot many family portraits due to being so busy with the newspaper or weddings, but every once in a while an opportunity presents itself. My close friends from college Chris and Molly called me up over the holidays and asked if I would make some portraits of their family and of their new son Jude. They were back in Montana from Davis, California for the Christmas break. I love seeing old friends. I met the crew out at Rockin TJ Ranch just outside of Bozeman where they were staying for the week. The place is a cute little wedding venue during the summertime and served as a quite, cozy place for their family to stay. With temperatures hovering in the teens and knowing I would have limited infant enthusiasm for pictures with Jude, I elected to photograph their family in the large banquet hall where there was lots of pretty light and warm indoor heating. It was a pretty versatile space to work in and I was quickly able to set up a couple different portrait scenes. I had a great time on this shoot and was pleased with the results. Who knows? I may have a future in baby photos. Jude was so stinking cute. What a smile. Thanks for looking everyone! -M

A couple weeks back I was emergency hired to document a family reunion of Plush Wedding & Events planner Michaela Rodgers. Her former photographer backed out at the last minute and she was left scrambling to find a replacement. Through the great wedding network of Sacramento, Michaela was able to track me down and asked if I could help her out. Being a professional photojournalist at newspapers for the past six years, I’ve often been thrown into a photographic situation at the drop of a hat where I’ve had to roll with it and make captivating images. I was happy to offer my photographic services and a couple days later, I found myself hired and driving eastbound towards Lake Tahoe for my Saturday with the Rodgers documenting their family festivities.

The Rodgers Family gathering was focused around the birthdays of the grandparents Donna and Kirk and their kids wanted to celebrate the event with a surprise weekend in Lake Tahoe. Michaela married into the family with her high school sweetheart now husband Cameron, the youngest of the six children. The two have known each other since their junior year of high school.

Coming from a smaller family of three kids, my eyes were definitely opened to a whole new family dynamic of six children and ten grand children. There are eighteen grand children now,” said Michaela Rodgers about life as a Rodgers family member, “It’s never a dull, or quiet, moment.  I knew right away that this family was special and they have taught me a whole new meaning of what being a family truly is.”

The whole idea of their special surprise weekend began months earlier stemming from Cameron’s older sister, Tawna (third oldest sibling).  Their parents, Donna & Kirk both recently turned sixty-years-old this past year and their kids and grandchildren wanted to do something meaningful for them. The kids figured since their parents had taken care of, supported and loved their children and grand children every day of their lives their recent birthday was a good excuse to celebrate in style. So Tawna gathered the family members together, gave us each tasks and assignments to get the planning underway.

I’ll let Michaela describe how the weekend went with a letter she sent to me.

Everything about this weekend was a surprise to the parents.  The first day, we put together a scavenger hunt that began in Lincoln, CA and led Donna & Kirk up to the cabin in Lake Tahoe.  They were welcomed with a huge gift basket of their favorite treats: Popcorn, Hot Tamales, Diet Pepsi, Pellegrino, M&M’s, all their favorites along with beautiful fresh flowers to brighten up their room.

The second day, we surprised them with our fabulous photographer, Mike Greener of Greener Visuals Wedding Photography.  The idea of having Mike share our weekend celebration with us was so that he could capture the everyday silly, goofy, emotional and special moments that we have with one another regularly. It’s those special moments that we rarely are able to capture because we are always “in the moment”.  We wanted Mike to document our day with his beautiful pictures and he delivered above and beyond what any of us had envisioned.

First, let me back and up and mention how we came to find Mike…and let me say too that he was our savior for this weekend!  We actually had another photographer lined up, but she canceled two days before our departure!  Needless to say, I was in a panic, and happened to call a dear friend/colleague of mine in the wedding industry, and she gave me Mike’s name and information and said I have to give him a call.  I was a little hesitant at first, being that I had never met him before, and we all know how important pictures are, right?  So, I checked out his website and was blown away!  I gave him a call and his kindness, compassion and eagerness to help us in our oh-so-desperate situation was more than I ever could have ever asked for!

So, when Mike arrived at the cabin, we had our picnic lunch all packed up and we headed out to the beach!  There we ate lunch, played some football, volleyball and baseball and simply hung out and enjoyed each other’s company.  Mike was awesome!  He captured everyone in his or her truest state of being and living.  We gathered all twenty-three family members for a family picture in front of Lake Tahoe and let me note there were two families that weren’t able to make it.  We have a huge family!

After the beach we made Donna & Kirk one for their favorite meals, Mexican food galore and each family member around the table shared a special memory that we had of them.  Needless to say, the room was filled with an immense amount of emotion, love and tears.

Following dinner was the biggest surprise of them all!  Tara (second oldest) wrote and directed a play for her parents.  This play was a representation of Donna and Kirk’s life together, beginning when they first met in 2nd grade, their marriage at 16 (just juniors in high-school) and they re-played each child’s birth.  The twelve grand children that were there played the parts of their parents as they were growing up, high-lighting extra special events and moments that occurred throughout their lives.  Having such special meaning only to our family, watching stories being acted out that we have heard throughout the years, the amount of laughter and tears that were shared during this moment, were indescribable.

And thanks to Mike, he captured it all flawlessly.  Because of him, we will forever have these intimate memories of this weekend to look back on and reminisce about and forever smile upon.

Thank You! Thank You!  Thank You!”Michaela Rodgers

Upon my arrival at their snow-covered, cabin doorsteps it was immediately apparent that this was a loving, tightly knit family. I had so much fun watching and documenting the Rodgers family play and laugh together. I quickly felt right at home. One after another there were jokes and stories of the family’s past being retold and laughter and hugs ensued. You knew it hadn’t always been smooth sailing for them like most families I know but here they all were older and wiser laughing till their stomach hurt, recounting all of the antics and struggles big and small that they endured over their childhoods. This was a family that had grown strong together. A family that had supported each other through thick and thin and now were here to honor and celebrate the two parents that had given them that unwavering foundation and guidance along the way to adulthood. It was a cool thing to behold…laughter, tears and all. Here are a couple favorite images from my time with them. It was yet another fun weekend photographing in the mountains. I was glad to help them out. –Mike Greener