Last weekend I had the pleasure of hanging out with Rachel & James and their excited young labrador puppy Deacon to make some fun engagement photos for them. These two lovebirds got engaged this past December and were planning their California Wine Country wedding later this summer from their home in Bozeman, Montana. While their wedding photos would be in the California sunshine, the two wanted to contrast their engagement photos with the beautiful snowy backdrop of Southwest Montana and hired me to help. Montana is no stranger to the cold. This winter has been an exceptionally chilly one here around Bozeman often times dropping into the negative double digits. A good thing if you are a skier, (I am) but it can be a difficult task when you are trying to make pictures of people out in the elements and not have them look like they are freezing. Our photo shoot was scheduled a couple weeks ahead of time and I found myself the day before the shoot looking at a thermometer hover around -10 F and thinking my clients will turn into popsicles. Alas, the weather gods were on our side and as we drove out to the Gallatin River Sunday morning, the sun popped out from behind the clouds to give us a balmy 20 F degrees. Rachel and James, unphased and all smiles, bundled up and were ready to go. I love it when couples embrace the unexpected. I think their enthusiasm shined through in their images. We had a great morning adventure exploring the snow covered landscape and making photos. Such a fun day. Wish these guys all the best! -M
I‘ve been photographing weddings for the past nine years all over the country. Being a destination wedding photographer (now based in Bozeman, Montana) has been the perfect blend of my love for telling stories with pictures and love for adventure and exploring new places. Last year my wedding photography took me from the southern charms of Charleston, South Carolina to the mountains of Vail, Colorado onto San Francisco, California and to the rustic Bitterroot Valley in Western Montana. So much fun. I’ve been blessed to photograph some really wonderful wedding couples. What started out as a fun gigs for friends at weddings, has cultivated into a wonderful creative outlet I want in my future. Over the past decade, my wedding photography business has been running solely on word of mouth and organic searches on the interwebs. In all that time, I’ve never had an opportunity for a physical public display to showcase my wedding photography business. Last weekend given my first chance. I was honored to be apart of the Bozeman Bridal Affaire 2014 held at the Strand Union Ballroom on the Montana State University campus in Bozeman, Montana. It was the first bridal fair that my Greener Visuals Wedding Photography has participated in. It was important to me that it made a good first impression.
Working with a 10 x 10 ft space, we would need to get creative both in design and in how we would transport my photography display booth. Sometimes I can be stubborn. I was not willing to sacrifice visual impact for ease of transportation especially if my booth was to make a big splash with those in attendance. I’m a strong guy. But after a car accident years ago that left me with constant back aches, I needed to consider the weight of it all. My booth would represent my formal “Howdy!” as the new photographer in town to the brides of southwest Montana in attendance but also to all of the other wedding vendors in the area. Which made me ponder some concepts like what should my brand look like? What kind of feeling should my booth convey to wedding couples moving through wedding maze within the MSU campus ballroom? Being able to show fun, wedding photos is one thing, packaging it with the feel of my overall brand was another. I had never done anything like it before.
What a cool opportunity. I discovered it to be a wonderful exercise to get me to think differently. With my logo as the starting point of inspiration, I began piecing together the branding puzzle. I’ve always loved the old rustic feel of Montana that I experienced visiting family as a kid here every summer growing up. The color schemes of Montana are like no other place on earth. Besides the gorgeous mountain streams filled with trout and jagged rocky peaks, what stood out to me was always seeing the old abandoned barns or homesteads worn down by the environmental elements to the point that they grey out and become part of the Montana scenery. Rough around the edges. Beautifully imperfect.
I wanted to replicate that feeling so dear to me onto my future wedding clients. So, I sketched out some concepts and drove over to my parents house in Missoula to seek the assistance of my woodworking savy dad. Bonus that it was a fun father and son woodworking project. Together, we set out to build a display that would catch the eye of engaged couples and give a powerful, first impression showcasing my style and brand of Greener Visuals Wedding Photography. It was a great challenge. The display needed to have a big visual impact in size, great lighting and many large photos. We were still brewing up a concrete design, when we drove down into the valley and checked out Home Resource, an incredible nonprofit building materials reuse center in Missoula, Montana. Having “green” in my name, I decided “being green” would be a cool concept to incorporate into my new brand building project. We ended up finding a bunch of beautiful, old reclaimed barn wood planks, insulated sheet metal heating ducts and some really nice track lighting. Now that we had raw materials, so began our visualization of how it would all come together.
Many questions needed to be answered. How to showcase my wedding photography with a professional look but also make it stand out by being unique in my approach? How could I convey something personal? What feelings would brides experience from seeing my display? I had to figure out what my goals were. I consider myself a wedding storyteller. To emphasize that point, I knew I wanted to show my potential wedding clients an entire wedding story in pictures. The ultimate way to show them exactly what they would expect to get by hiring me as their wedding photographer. That meant I would need to show quite a few photos for just that purpose. Showcasing to Montana brides, I decided to feature Ashley & David’s Montana wedding story, one of my favorite weddings I photographed from my 2013 wedding season at the Teller Wildlife Refuge in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana. It was also important to highlight some of my best images to show the range of emotion, moments and range of my photojournalistic photography style. All good thinking but I was limited financially. Print costs can add up quickly. Rather than make the investment of expensive canvas prints (a very popular, beautiful option used by photographers for displaying photos), I decided instead to be more versatile and chose to print out regular photo paper images instead. To me there is still nothing more impactful than seeing a physical photograph in print. After all, every picture tells a story.
Over two weekends, my dad and I created a large four panel, self-standing, framed display where I could use rare earth magnets to hold my wedding photos across the framed metal backdrop. It was different and I was pleased. To add to the visual impact of my images, we fastened the track lighting to a reclaimed long barn wood plank and anchored it across the top to link the two large frames. We rigged the whole lighting system to a dimmer switch which allowed me to dial in the perfect light to accent my photography. Add a screw to hang my business sign and like that, a paper concept comes into fruition. I was very pleased with the ending results. The best part is that it all breaks down in size where it can be easily carried and will fit into the back of my Subaru Outback. Score! A big thank you to my dad, John, for all of his assistance and use of his tools.
Last Friday evening, I hauled it all over to the Bridal Affaire, and got it all set up in anticipation for the all day event on Saturday. My booth was a huge hit. Besides my build display I was able to display wedding albums and more information about my photographic services. I had an awesome time meeting a lot of excited, newly-engaged couples and hearing about their wedding plans. How exciting it must be for them. It was a really good feeling to see folks engage with my photography. I got as many complements on my booth as I did on my wedding photography. In the end, I’ll call it a big win for the day and a great stepping stone in my photographic journey. The best news is that my phone has been ringing. I’m already looking forward to the new wedding stories I will get to tell this year. -M
Stumbled across this gem in a news feed recently. Glamour Magazine nails it on the head for a good wedding toast advice formula.
“Introduce yourself + funny story about your friend and why you love her + why the spouse is such a great match + larger sentimental thought + “Cheers!” + a hug for the couple = a truly killer wedding toast.“
I thought it was really good food for thought. I would add with all of that to just be genuine and keep it short and sweet. Check out the full list of tips here. -M
Happy 2014 everybody! What a year! I feel very fortunate. Rounding off my second year being based back in Bozeman, Montana, I feel like I have really come into my own on many fronts – creatively, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Most importantly it was a year for me to realize just how much I love doing what I do. I had the great fortune to photograph weddings in Charleston, South Carolina, Vail, Colorado, and through out Montana. A big thank you to all of my wedding clients from this past 2013 wedding season. Wish you guys all the best and thank you for letting Greener Visuals Wedding Photography be apart of your wedding day celebration. Here are a few of my favorite wedding images from the past year. Looking forward to the new smiles and faces I’ll meet and photograph this year. Stay tuned! -Mike Greener
Last week I was asked by my chef friend Carrie McCully, of ADOUR Good Food, to photograph a swanky Christmas party she was hosting for the Bozeman Young Presidents’ Organization at the famous Story Mansion in downtown Bozeman. I had just a great time with these folks. My job was to capture the fun and document the details all in the span of two hours. I love a good challenge. Here are some of my favorite images from the evening event. Happy Holidays everyone!
To see of the party photos, click here.
Hot off the presses, I just got some copies of the brand new 2013/14 A Montana Wedding Magazine wedding planner. I’m pretty excited about it because it is just littered with my wedding photography. If you are looking for some Montana inspiration for your wedding day, this wedding planner guide will be a great resource for ideas, tips and info to find top notch Montana wedding vendors. I’d be happy to send any of you a copy. Shoot me an email if you are interested. I have extras. I was really pleased that the editors of the magazine just ran wild (and BIG) with my storytelling wedding images. It’s the quickest way to bring a smile to this photographer’s face. As you can see they made full use of photographs. I highlighted a couple above but there are so many more to see. I went big myself and invested in a three-page advertisement for my wedding photography business. I think it will be a great boost to get the word out around Montana and beyond that Greener Visuals Wedding Photography is open for business and accepting bookings for the 2014 wedding season. Psyched. If you or a friend you know is in need of some kick ass wedding photography, I know this great guy they should talk to. I look forward to hearing from you. -M
A few weeks ago, I got a call from my cousin Kim saying that she, her husband Daniel and their little daughter Adleigh would be passing through Bozeman on a family road trip and they wanted to have some family portraits made. Having a rare break in the action from my busy wedding season, we decided to meet up and head over to Hyalite Reservoir. I’m a sucker for the outdoors and will always default to nature for my portrait backdrops. It just seems more natural. Pun intended. Lucky for me the whole area is one big scenic postcard. After a sunset dinner of Roost Fried Chicken, a new Bozeman favorite restaurant, we started playing with the light of the setting sun. Again, I wanted to photos to be about them and not their clothing. With the help of my assistant/sister Katie, we made some fun images and laughed all evening at Adleigh’s reactions. Thanks for looking, -M
To see all of their photo shoot, go here.
Montana! I love it! Especially when it means I get to make a road trip through the state to photograph a wedding up near Glacier National Park. A couple weeks ago, I headed north towards Bigfork, Montana where I photographed Cierra & Brian’s wedding day festivities at the Cougar Trail Ranch. These newlyweds have been making a life together working in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but decided they wanted to marry closer to home, their friends and their family and opted for a Montana wedding. The place they found, the Cougar Trail Ranch, was in a classic northwest Montana setting complete with dense, surrounding lodge pole pine forests that opened into golden grass pastures bordering the property line. The big fancy house offered tons of space for the wedding party staging and it’s huge big windows offered this photographer great light to work with. Cierra, an old college rugby friend of mine, contacted me about a year in advance to book my wedding photography services and it was great to finally watch her walk down the isle to marry the boy of her dreams. It never gets old photographing the weddings of old buddies. The day went off without a hitch. As the festivities turned to dancing, I struggled to hold in my laughter at the sight of seeing some of the wedding guests cut loose and begin tossing kids into the air as they danced, celebrated and sang the words to every DJ song. It was one big, awesome Montana party! Such wonderful energy throughout. I had a blast documenting these guys. I wish them all the best for many years to come. -M
To see Cierra & Brian’s entire wedding click here.
I’ve been excited to post these photos for a while now. A couple of weekends ago, I drove over to western Montana to photograph the wedding day of Ashley and David at the fantastic Teller Wildlife Refuge Slack House and Barn in Corvallis, Montana. Ashley has been a longtime friend of mine since our time together attending The University of Montana and the two are making a living in Butte, Montana as social workers. You would be hard pressed to find a cuter couple. I had an awesome time photographing the fun throughout their wedding day. Thinking back on it makes me smile. The entire time I was hanging out with them, you could tell their excitement by the big grins they had on their faces all day. It’s such a fun thing to witness two people completely head over heels for one another. I think that emotion really shines through in their wedding photos. Having photographed at the refuge years ago, I had a pretty good idea of where my best images would come from. This place was a Montana wedding photographers dream. I used the rustic Montana farm backdrop to it’s fullest by exploring the variations of color schemes and trying to capture the feeling of their wedding day. It is such a joy for me to document the union of friends. I’m thrilled for these two and wish them all the best! -M
This past weekend, I traveled towards the Flathead Valley in northwest Montana to the town of Big Fork to photograph Cierra and Brian’s wedding day held at the beautiful Cougar Trail Ranch. Here’s a sneak peak at some of the fun photos I got to make on their big day! This is just the tip of the iceberg and I’m excited to show you all the rest. Many more photos to come. Check back soon. Congrats you guys! -M
The fun continues! I just got back from photographing Ashley and David’s beautiful Montana cowboy styled wedding at the Teller Wildlife Refuge Slack House and Barn in Corvallis, Montana this past weekend. Here’s a sneak peak at a couple snaps from their wedding day. Many more to come. -M
Happy New Year everyone! Well, I finally got around to editing down my favorite wedding images from 2012. It’s great to look back and relive all the fun memories of my wedding clients celebrations. I feel privileged and proud that I got to be apart of them all for that, I raise my glass to all of my brides and groom’s continued happiness. 2013 is already shaping up to be my best wedding year yet and the bookings are pouring in. If you know of any friends or family members that are looking for a unique way to have their wedding day documented, I hope you send them my way. Hope everyone had a great holiday and that you’ll continue to support my storytelling wedding photography in the new year. I feel very blessed. Cheers! -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
I came to know Molly and Brian through a referral from my friend and wedding planner extraordinaire Fearon, of Fearon May Events. The two were looking for a destination wedding photographer who specialized in a candid documentary photographic approach for their wedding photography and Fearon put us in touch. From our very first conversations about their wedding day back in November of 2011, we hit it off right from the get go. I love Midwesterners. Both of them are living in the Chicagoland of my youth working as financial advisory consultants, a job that allows them to travel all over the country. All the traveling has helped to develop their love of fine dining and good wines which they where sure to incorporate into their wedding celebration. Coincidentally, they met at a work happy hour and after dating for the past two years when the time came for them to choose a place to get married, these two foodies had their hearts set on a Sonoma wine country wedding. They could not have picked a prettier spot. So about a month ago, I traveled out from my new home in Bozeman, Montana back to lush, green vineyards of Sonoma, California for a weekend documenting their wedding festivities at the BR Cohn Winery.
DJ, Lighting, Officiant: Extreme Productions
Catering: Grapevine Catering
Florist: Sonoma Flowers
Dessert: Sift Cupcake
Rentals: Wine Country Rentals
Limo: Royal Coach Limo
Here are some of my favorite photos from my time with Molly and Brian. I have had so much fun getting to know these two. I wish them all the best! -M
I’ve been excited to share these photos for a while now. Three weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hanging out with my engaged clients Molly and Brian during our engagement photo session in Sonoma, California at Jack London State Historic Park. Having recently moved back to Montana, the trip was a fun adventure back to sunny California for my first engagement session of the 2012 wedding season. The spring California weather was predictably gorgeous as we ventured out for an afternoon of exploration and portrait making. Molly and Brian, by way of my sweet home Chicago, were looking to have a California wine country wedding and engagement photo session and found me and Greener Visuals Wedding Photography through a recommendation from a local wedding coordinator friend of mine Fearon, of Fearon May Events and Engaged Now What , (an up and coming wedding resource website) when they were looking for a photojournalistic styled wedding photographer in the Sonoma Wine Country. We got in touch and hit it off from the get go. When we met for the first time, I recommended we check out the ruins of the famed American writer Jack London’s mansion and state park just north of Sonoma. It was a pretty surreal place to photograph and it would make a perfect starting place both to avoid the harsh mid day sun and it presented beautiful shade with interesting directions of light shafts. Back in 1913, a fire destroyed the famous writer’s dream house deemed “Wolf House”. The stone walls still stand with an ancient, architectural beauty surrounded by old growth redwood trees. It’s a truly beautiful place. From there we drove south towards Sonoma and explored the sights and sounds of the wine capital’s downtown streets and photographed the gorgeous afternoon golden sunlight illuminated the buildings. These two lovebirds were just awesome. Together we made some creative images that I think turned out great and I am really looking forward to returning to California in June for their wedding day shoot. Congratulations on your engagement you guys! See you at your wedding in June! -Mike Greener
To see more photos from the engagement shoot go here.
Well, this is always a fun email to wake up to. I found out the other day that a photo I made at Christina and Ryan’s wedding last summer placed in the the most recent Wedding Photojournalism Association quarterly photo contest. It’s a shot I made of Christina’s grandmother giving her toast. What a sweetheart. There is an incredible amount of talented wedding photojournalists in the organization and I’m thrilled that my work was able to stand out amongst them. My first wedding of 2012 is one week from today! I’m getting excited. Sonoma, California here I come!
What a year! I had the fortunate opportunity to photograph numerous weddings over the course of 2011. During the last couple of weeks, I’ve been going through all of my wedding shoots from this past year. It was so great to go back and relive those celebrations that I was lucky enough to photograph. So many fun times and way too many photos to choose from. I feel very fortunate. A big thank you to all of my wedding clients from the 2011 wedding season. Wish you guys all the best and thank you for letting Greener Visuals Wedding Photography be apart of your wedding day. Here are some of my favorite wedding images from the past year. I’m looking forward to making the 2012 wedding season even better. Happy New Year everyone! -M
A couple weeks ago I had the chance to return to Montana, my favorite place on earth, to photograph the wedding of an old college friend Christina and her new husband Ryan. I got to know Christina during my time tromping around the Big Sky state while attending The University of Montana in my pursuit of my degree in Photojournalism. In between my time fly fishing mountain streams and trying to make it to class on time, I came to know her through mutual friends and her involvement in the Missoula art scene. Christina, a Montana native, is a very talented painter and ended up getting her degree in the Fine Arts. From there, it was off to New York City for her where she eventually met her fiancée Ryan randomly at a friend’s apartment. Oddly enough it turns out that they both were from the same western Montana town of Whitefish located up close to the entrance of Glacier National Park. I’m always amazed at the curveballs of coincidence life can through at people sometimes. Two years apart in age, Christina and Ryan never new one another growing up but found each other in one of the biggest cities on earth. Go figure. As they grew closer in their relationship, the two parted ways with the “Big Apple” and have since made a life together living and working in Portland, Oregon. When it came to plan their summer wedding the location was an obvious choice.
On their wedding day, I awoke early to drive north of Missoula (where I had been visiting my parents) past the cherry orchards along Flathead Lake and eventually made my way northeast towards the entrance of Glacier National Park. Christina and Ryan chose a cute little 40-acre ranch just outside of Coram, Montana called Glacier River Ranch that was bordered by the gin clear blue waters of the Flathead River. There are few things in life more picturesque than a Montana backdrop and that day I couldn’t think of any. I arrived early so I could scout around the area and get a feel for the place. As family members were helping to set up, I decided to walk around the grounds for possible portrait locations. As I came around the side of a big ponderosa pine tree I startled a young black bear (about 30 yards away from me) and he quickly stood up on his hind legs to get a better view of the blond haired photographer that had interrupted his mid morning berry feast. Soon uninterested, it sauntered off until the delicious smells of a wedding reception food brought it closer to the wedding location so much so that the ranch owner had to scare it off with some warning shots of her deer rifle. Only in Montana. Love it. The rest of the day mimicked the visions of a good Norman MacLean novel. The late August weather was perfect and their afternoon streamside reception was stunning as the golden Montana light lit up the trees as it slowly made its decent behind Teakettle Mountain. Like any proper Montana wedding the rest of the evening was spent eating roasted pig, drinking fine wine and Montana microbrews and dancing to live music from a local string band. It was so great to spend the day photographing such a fun couple and an honor to be asked to photograph the wedding of a old friend. I wish them all the best. -M
You can view the very best images from Ryan and Christina’s wedding under my portfolio wedding stories section here. Or…
To see the entire wedding take you can see them all on my Photo Archive here.
Greener Visuals Wedding Photography’s got a brand new bag…of business cards that is. In my ongoing effort to the spruce up the “storefront” of my wedding photography business, it was time to design a new business card to reflect my new look. I decided my design skills were up to the challenge. Obviously I wanted to emphasize my new business logo, maintain a professional looking card while providing all of my important contact information. I think I found a good balance. I opted not to put a photograph on the back side of the card this time around. It was good for a while on my previous cards but I noticed that my old cards started being picked through so that I was left with the images that everyone had looked over. The few left over, though good images, didn’t always work for selling my business services. If I only have one image to make that impression on someone I’d better hope it is going to be an image that that one particular person is into. The design amounted to being kind of a shot in the dark. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and individual photography tastes are no different. So with that in mind I decided to forego the photo and put only my logo on the back. Like all things in business, it’s an experiment. I’m a wedding storyteller and I hope that my card will peak the right bride and groom’s curiosity. I’m continuing to have my cards printed through Moo.com on eco-friendly 100% recycled card stock. These cards are awesome. I’ve gotten nothing but complements from folks I hand them to. The cards have a slightly larger size (than a traditional business cards) and thicker card stock. Moo cards make a great impression and I aim to keep that tradition going with this new batch. Now all I need to do is distribute them. Shoot me an email with your address and I’d be happy to send you a couple. All the best. -M
You know you’ve done something right when one of your past wedding couples refer you to their friends. I consider those gestures one of the highest complements a photographer can receive. It lets me know that I am doing my job well. Back in 2006, Abby and Johnny asked me to photograph their wedding in western Montana after hearing about my photojournalistic style through their friends and my former clients. It was the ultimate picturesque Montana cowboy wedding. Their outdoor wedding was held at this cute little ranch where the men were decked out in their cowboy boots and hats twirled the women in their summer dresses as they danced to the upbeat rhythms of bluegrass music. Summer was ending and with it the days grew longer. Because of it we were blessed with beautiful afternoon sunlight that made the dried wheat fields glow with a golden hue as the sun set over the Bitterroot Mountains. What more could a photographer ask for.