Happy New Year everyone! What a wild ride 2020 has been.
The beginning of my year was lining up to be the best ever for my business. I was looking forward to a full schedule of weddings and a dozen or so portrait sessions already on the books.
But as the coronavirus pandemic spread its way across the country and quarantine kicked in, most of my clients, rightfully so, made the difficult decision to postpone their celebrations.
Suddenly, like so many other businesses, I was forced to pivot.
With the uncertainty of how I would support my photographic livelihood moving forward, I also was dealing with the realization that my grandmother was being admitted into hospice for her end of life care.
An ironic twist to an already surreal time in our world.
In late March, I was at home with my family in Missoula and supporting my grandmother the week before stay-in-place directives kicked in. It was during that time, I came across some favorite family photos that I had made of her throughout the years.
With the end of her life nearing, those photos suddenly became priceless to me. Captured memories that brought up so many wonderful emotions of love.
I wanted to make sure that my clients had the same chance to celebrate their own relationships.
Good storytelling photography can be that bridge to tap into all those emotions we hold dear towards our loved ones.
How many of us have made excuses over the years to put off taking the time to be present with our families and to celebrate them through photography?
I think we’ve all been guilty of it.
Yet once those loved ones are gone (or government-mandated stay-in-place separates us), we would do anything to be back in their presence to savor their cherished expressions that encapsulates who they are – just one more time.
One of the gifts of 2020 was the awareness that while most of us were socially distancing from our neighbors, some of us were getting to experience the precious moments of togetherness with our families, loved ones, and pets during this time of unpredictability.
That was something to celebrate.
Giving Back and supporting local charities
Because of the isolation, I was looking for a path to give back and use my photography to help my community in any way I could. I decided to create the Bozeman Front Porch Project. The premise was a quick socially-distanced mini family photo sessions on their front porches for local families to refocus and celebrate the good that surrounds them.
All said and done, I photographed 55 different families from a safe, social distance for the Bozeman Front Porch Project. I’m proud to say that together we raised almost $3,000.00 that was donated to One Valley Community Foundation and the Greater Gallatin United Way.
It was such a joy and highlight for me to find a way to give back to the community that has given me so much.
Positivity comes to fruition
As the year went on, circumstances improved.
I was blessed to meet an assortment of new clients – families that wanted to capture and celebrate this time in their lives. I also photographed numerous businesses and professionals that wanted to put their best selves forward by creating fresh business portraits and engaging photographic content for their business websites.
While most of the weddings for the year were postponed, I was able to photograph a few new wedding couples that wanted to tie-the-knot with their close immediate families present.
What I’ve always loved about weddings is that no two are completely alike.
As we’ve seen from 2020, sometimes the best-laid plans don’t always work out (like the effects of a worldwide pandemic) but it’s amazing how we can adapt to life’s circumstances.
For Harley and Amanda‘s winter wedding, they were so excited to have a snowy backdrop. On their wedding day, there ended up not being any snow on the ground and only frigid cold outside the Gallatin River Lodge. Still, we were able to make the best of it and wandered out to the frozen pond to remedy the problem.
When pandemic canceled the big wedding plans of Addie and Nate, we changed course and instead rode up a backcountry mountain on horseback to photograph their small, intimate wedding ceremony. It ended up being better than they could ever imagine.
For Jordan and Raven’s extravagant wedding, a fast-approaching wildfire forced us to emergency evacuate and quickly move their wedding celebration just hours before their ceremony was set to commence. Thankfully, another venue was secured and despite the hiccup, we rolled with it and celebrated their relationship well into the night.
The year seemed to be full of unexpected challenges but in the end, everything worked out. Each of these unique weddings was wonderfully imperfect in its own way.
Despite the struggles of 2020, I think we as a community and country have realized some of the hidden gifts of this pandemic – cherished time with the people that give our lives meaning.
While 2020 wasn’t the year I expected to have for my business, looking back, all of it was a blessing and a well needed time for reflection.
With hope on the horizon as the vaccines are beginning to be distributed, I look forward to the possibilities that 2021 will bring – the love I’ll get to document, the families I’ll get to celebrate and the businesses I’ll be able to make shine even brighter.
I’m optimistic about what the future holds.
I’m so grateful for the clients that supported me this past year and I cannot wait to embrace my friends safely again once this storm fades.
Above are some favorite wedding and portrait photographs I created this past wild year. I hope you enjoy them and when the time is right, I look forward to helping you celebrate what matters most in your life. Happy New Year everyone! -M