1st shoot of 2012:: Jeff + Dace!

     It’s the first shoot of the new year! And honestly, I don’t see how it could have started any more awesomely. (don’t question my words. If spellcheck didn’t highlight it, we’re good). 

    Jeff and Dace have one of the more unique stories from among the many couples I’ve worked with. For one, Dace (I will crudely present the pronunciation as ‘dahtzay’) is from Latvia; here for a brief couple of weeks on what is her first visit to the US. Jeff & Dace had never seen eachother in person until last month… having met on facebook through a friend earlier this year, and keeping up frequent communication over the past few months through fb, skype, & e-mail.

Oh, this modern world… so amazing. Also reminds me of a little fact about me I bet you didn’t know… I met my wife online as well! A bit less of a distance barrier, however. And that, ladies & gents, is another story for another time 🙂

    I have known Jeff a long time… he is an extremely talented local artist and a good friend, whose work I am proud to display in my own home. Even cooler is the fact that Dace, also, is a gifted artist. Even in spite of the distance between them, the couple have fallen in love and are now engaged. Crazy stuff!

    It was so hard narrowing down pictures from the shoot to share. Hope you enjoy!

starting things off w/ a shot of the couple holding portraits they did of eachother. Jeff’s sketch was done during the shoot! such talent between the two. 

I feel like this one was subconsciously norman rockwell inspired…

a genuine shared laugh in a local coffeeshop….


Time to stop being so silly. (ok, maybe I’ll still be a little silly).

2012 feels huge. Not the hectic kind of huge that was 2011; a calmer, more streamlined huge that means cool stuff for 9art and a lot of hope for me personally. 


Here are some of my new years goals… I call them that, rather than resolutions… ah whatever. 🙂




#1: Refine the 9art brand. 


I am working with my very talented friend mr. Matt Spiel to re-imagine the logo and re-work the site. I’m also going to come up with some awesome new packaging. I can’t tell you how excited I am to put the finishing touches on a brand I’ve spent a long time working up to. 

#2: create a book dedicated to the May 22 Joplin tornado. 


I’ve built up quite a library of photographs taken after the storm. I know there have already been several books made, but I’m hoping that my perspective will be something a little different. The plan is to release the book on the 1 year anniversary of the twister.


#3: Work on my portfolio. 


This might be confusing to some. When a photographer whom I highly respect brought this up as something that has to be done, I was confused myself at first. Why work on a portfolio when you already have business? You don’t still need one, do you? 


The idea is that by poring over your own work, critiquing yourself, getting 2nd opinions, comparing & contrasting, narrowing down… through that process, you’ll find your strengths, your weaknesses, and come out with an honest collection of what ‘your best’ really is and an honest idea of what you need to work on. A difficult but valuable process, for any creative.


#4: become as efficient & fiercely dependable a business as possible. 


Being an ‘artist first, businessperson 2nd’ is an approach that’s worked ok for a long time, but I’ve had to learn a lot of things the hard way about running a professional grade business…. and learned that sometimes, you have to put aside the artist for a bit to put on some other hats. You can be the best artist in the world and still fail as a business if you don’t learn some of the other fundamentals.


 The goal is to streamline, evaluate, and organize- with the help of my valuable new intern- to get 9art to the point it should be.


#5: move into a new studio space. 


It’s possible that 2011 isn’t the year for this; but I’m feeling like it really could be. The current space has served me very well and I will definitely miss it if I move on, but I’m keeping an eye out for something different (some windows would be nice, for a start). Hoping to still stay downtown though!





Just 3 things here.

#1: Find a new pace. 


With the momentum that built up last year and just didn’t stop, I’ve gotten a little worn out. A little impatient. A little grouchy. I’ve started to become that guy that doesn’t have time for anything and forgets to relax, and I don’t want to be that guy. 


I’m looking forward to slowing down and learning to stay slowed down, even when things are busy. And I’m looking forward to working on being a calmer, more peaceful person with God’s help. 


#2: Get healthy. 


Nuff said. You’ve already read this on everyone elses’ new years’ resolution lists…


#3: Take more time for personal work & development. 


When you start your own business and it finally begins to take off a little, it’s easy to forget why you got into that line of work in the light of success. This is something else I don’t want to do. I don’t want to get stuck in a rut, or move clients through like studio cattle, forgetting what I love about what I do and forgetting to have fun and challenge myself creatively. 


So I have 3 personal series I’d like to complete this year. I have new techniques I’d like to learn. I have new equipment I’d like to play with. And I’m going to force myself to make the time to do it. 



That’s all, guys. If you read all this… I love you. seriously. I promise I won’t talk this much again until next year.


    Time for that new years’ post. The one that puts the last year in review, sets the sights on the new one, and gets a little personal. If you have a blog… this is the post you gotta make, right? 🙂

    I’ll start off with the year in review, for me both personally and businessally. (don’t question my words). and really that’s probably enough for one blog post… so I’ll come back to the next year’s ‘resolutions’ tomorrow.

 So here’s the synopsis:

      We had a baby. (we being my wife & I. I don’t know if you you had one or not. If so, congratulations!) Here’s the progression of year 1…. (january, july, december) 


our other kiddo got older. (he turns 3 in a couple of weeks).


my hometown, home, and equipment were devastated by a tornado. but by God’s grace, we survived and came back out on top. 


the business got bigger. Things grew for 9art immensely in 2011, especially after the summer. This included some amazing commercial opportunities, including:

  •         opportunity to work with rebuild joplin (one of the largest recovery organizations/websites in the area)
  •         opportunity to begin an ongoing relationship w/ joplin tourism taking new photographs of Joplin attractions
  •          I was one of the chosen photographers to work w/ an extreme home makeover family.
  •         I was interviewed by ‘Joplin Metro’ magazine.
  • worked with a variety of other clients outside my usual realm, including Jordan Howerton Band, ‘frontline’ worship group, ‘home is here’ magazine (put out by furniture row) restaurants ‘Instant Karma’ and ‘Monterrey downtown grill’, the tri state business journal, ‘hello destroyers’, and others.
  • got to meet and work with many new family/wedding clients this year. Lots of clients got married and several ‘baby’s 1st year’ clients graduated!

9art celebrated 1 year w/ a studio (back in september).

Being downtown in this location with a meeting/working/shooting space has been amazing. I love downtown Joplin and hope to stay in that area for some time.

The ‘third thursday’ photobooth took off and became a regular part of the Joplin art walk events. So excited to see my studio become a regular stop for the many folks who attend.


9art took on an intern.

Michelle Andrews was chosen to intern for a set period, after which she will be hired on as an employee. A huge step, and something we are both very excited about. Michelle is going to be a perfect fit for the business and will help things run more smoothly in the coming year. Here is Michelle and her adorable daughter (Michelle was a client before an employee….)

I learned a lot.  Yeah. this one is vague. But really, I just learned so many new things this year, in a personal sense and in learning how to run my business a lot more like a grown up. I got a little better at my craft (a goal every year), I became more efficient, and I was humbled into learning a lot of things about how work and life can and can’t work together.

 I celebrated 7 years of marriage to an incredibly beautiful, kind, clever, creative, Godly woman. Autumn has been beside me encouraging me to pursue my passion for the length of our marriage. She has been my best fiend, started a family with me, put up with my ridiculousness and helped keep me on track. I can’t believe it’s been 7 years.

(picture by Whitney Scott photography).

 I (re)learned that God always, always takes care of those he loves. Startlingly religious, I know. But after everything my family has been through this year, I have been reminded that God loves us, and always takes care of those who trust in him. 

I read this book. If you are a creative professional- a newb or established, running a full business or still in school- you need to read it too. It helped me re-think how I think, helped me streamline a good many things, and begin to become a more focused entrepeneur. I’ve still got a long way to go, but this definitely got the ball rolling on organizing my passion.


I got overwhelmed. Busier is better in some ways, and, of course, worse in others.  I got to a point I’ve never been at before, when I had more business than I could handle. I don’t mind being honest about that. Editing fell behind, things were overlooked, and some customers had to have a little more patience with me than they probably would have liked to.

To those clients… I can never thank you enough for your grace and patience. You are amazing people. The summer was a hard one for my family, and I was thrown into a workload that quickly overtook me as soon as the re-settling process was over.

I’m looking forward to learning a new pace this year- with the help of self control, a new employee, and continued streamlining. Can’t wait to set up a new, extremely fast turnaround for every aspect of my business.


That’s my honest assessment of 2011. Tomorrow moves on to the next year. Thanks for reading… hope the pictures helped you get through all that.