baby agnes (& family!)

    You know it’s going to be a good shoot when the dad is wearing a shirt you just bought the night before and you (the photographer) are wearing a shirt that he’d like to go buy today. Great minds think alike… or maybe just ridiculous ones…

     Well the shoot was meant to be for baby agnes, but of course there were plenty of shots of mom, dad and big brother henry. Such an adorable baby girl, and such a funny, wonderful family!

    For something different, scroll to the end of the post… the boys had to have some fun too, you know.

Little tessa

Sometimes you just can’t get over how cute a kid is. I know a lot of those. Tessa is certainly no exception… I mean GEEZ she’s cute!

Big big big thanks to mom Sara & dad Brian for making a trip clear from LAWRENCE, ks and for bringing some very fun props along on the shoot… including a mini record player that Brian had as a kid.

[Brian, if that star wars record goes missing at some point in the future, you’ll know who took it. ]

EF5:: 1 YEAR

   I feel like there may be folks looking to see what I have to say today. At first, I wasn’t going to say anything. After looking through the facebook feed, reading the articles, watching the news… it feels like saying anything is just adding noise. 

   But… I realized not saying at all didn’t feel right. (probably because I have a big mouth). So here is my novel… and yes, to warn you, it IS religious. I’m hoping in a meaningful way, not in an obvious and bible banging kind of way. 

1 year ago, a tornado ripped my town and my home apart. On the anniversary, I find myself just slightly struggling with my feelings. But not for the reasons you might think. 

I’m not sad.

I’m not having any emotional struggles with today. 

I’m just happy.

I don’t at all think there’s anything wrong with the other reactions. In fact, again, I feel strange for my own. But in the end, after a very hard and exhausting last year, I’m just thankful. 

I was in a group last sunday that was asked- what did we learn about God in the last year?

My response was that I learned God really, truly, can work through anything. ANYTHING.

Even nachos.

People ask, ‘were you home that night’?     ’nope’, I answer.

A semi trailer went through our living room… if we’d been home, we wouldn’t be here. Instead of being at home like we would have been ANY other sunday, we were at my mother in laws’, helping her finish off some leftover nachos. Yes, God saved us through leftovers.

That’s not that unique a story…. sift through countless, countless other stories of miracles. ‘I should’ve been home that night’. ‘I don’t know how I just walked out of there’. ‘If it had happened just a few hours later…’ When I stack my story on top of hundreds others, I know even deeper that my story is not a coincidence.

It’s not to say the deaths that occurred should be overlooked, and I am still saddened for those who lost loved ones that day. But consider how much larger that number should have been. It should have been 1601, not 161.

Joplin became an example after that day; everyone was watching the good that God worked through a terrible thing. that example inspired others, as the world saw strength being given to those who needed it, people bonding together like they never would have, and people given more than they had before. 

My family was one of those stories. no home. no belongings. no camera (therefore no way to even make a living). God- through kind souls- gave us back everything, and showed us what he can do and just how much good can come even out of something bad.

Now I feel like I have a better response for folks who ask the question, ‘how can God allow something bad to happen?’ Their real question beneath that is, ‘does God really have control?’ and the answer for me is, yes. he does. He does allow bad things to happen- it doesn’t mean he causes them to happen, and what’s important is realizing what he can do through such things.. And sometimes the result is even more important than the cause.

I know that whatever happens from here on out, it was supposed to. (even if it’s terrible). That’s a good feeling. For that lesson, I am thankful. 

My last note in this novel is that I’m making a novel. Ok, not a novel… really more a picture book… a book that will serve as a categorized collection of images I captured in the months after the storm. Though you’d think I’m in love with my words from the length of this post, I’m actually turning over the text in the book to someone that’s much better at it than I am. 

For those that remember… yes, I did originally say I’d have that book done by the 1 year anniversary, didn’t I? You caught me. It’s not ready, but it IS in the works. If you’re interested, stay tuned!

In the meanwhile, to look back on more of my perspective and to see some of the photos that will probably be in the pages of that book, you can click on the blog posts that I released a few months back, each addressing a different factor of the aftermath. 

Thanks for reading. And one last time… thanks for everyone that helped my family and our town in the last year. You have no idea the impact you had. 

EF5 :: part 1

EF5 :: part 2

EF5 :: part 3

EF5 :: part 4

EF5 :: part 5


    I don’t know if the photo booth has finally REALLY caught on, or if people just REALLY like mustaches… but this month, the third thursday photo booth was far and above the biggest, craziest, most crowded insanely busy photo booth we’ve had. Considering there are 500 images to sift through, it was hard to pick favorites… but here’s my best shot at it.

Those Yokley twins…. round #2!

     I love those Yokleys. I’ve always loved photographing Doug & Sarah… through engagement & wedding, and now as their adorable TWIN babies grow and grow. 

Two matching babies means…

double the cute. 

Keep scrolling. If you can. it’s almost just too much. (That’s why I’ll ease you into it with just one at a time…)

Sarah & Cody :: engaged

     My ideal shoot will always produce an even mix of beautiful, quirky, and just plain ridiculous.

I think it goes back to my love for movies. Many of my favorite directors… The Coen brothers, Tim Burton, Sam Raimi… are equally capable of incredible, epic, and stunningly beautiful storytelling & imagery- but also campy, over-the-top playfulness. My top movies from such directors are often an unlikely blend of both… some quirky, unlikely hilarious moments as well as fantastic imagery and a great story.

Not that I don’t admire directors that specialize in just one style or another- from the silliness of director Jared Hess (napoleon dynamite, nacho libre), who still tells a silly story with amazing imagery, by the way- to the dark, moody, labyrinth storytelling that Christopher Nolan (the Dark Knight, Inception) is such a genius with. But when a filmmaker, or really any storyteller, can accomplish both silliness & beauty in the same story, I have a special respect for that, and hope to achieve something of the same feat in my own (much more sub par) storytelling efforts.

Sorry for the ramble- especially sorry to Sarah & Cody, whom this post is ACTUALLY about. All this to leads up to the fact that wonderful clients like this couple, inspire me in multiple ways- from the sweetness of their own special relationship, to the meaningful setting that they came to me with, to the wonderful sense of fun that they possess.

In this case, that sense of fun meant matching wolf T-shirts. (YES). It also meant Sarah giving me the idea to do the shoot in a lost little town called Cato, KS, which her family is closely tied to. Only 2 buildings and a bridge remain- but they perfectly set the tone for this amazing session.

Sarah & Cody- as well as all my other awesome clients- you inspire me. Can’t wait for the wedding! 


My success is not my success [this is my should-be-censored oscar speech]

   I am not responsible for my success. That’s something that I need to remember. Always, but now even more, as 9art is at a place it’s never been before, on the brink of something bigger.

[In case I forgot to tell you, the blog is where I get a little more personal. You can totally leave now if you just wanted more pictures. Seriously… I’m not offended].

My success comes back, first and foremost, to God. 

If ever I question why I’m here, doing what I’m doing, in the place that I’m doing it, I can always remember that I was PLACED here, very clearly.  

I remember someone handing me a camera in my journalism class in college, so that I could take a picture to go with the article I was writing. My response was something along the lines of ‘aw man, can’t you send the photographer out? I just want to write the article!’

Yep. I was led to that camera. I was also led when my first photography teacher Cyndi Cox told me she thought I had an eye; when my next photography teacher Lori told me she thought I was good enough to shoot a wedding that she couldn’t cover; and years later, the day I put in my two weeks at Starbucks and wondered if I was being an idiot for trying to go full time- then I landed a huge (for then) job the next day and knew that was the sign I needed to say that yes, this IS what I’m supposed to do.

Anytime I have faith issues, I can remember two things in my life that are always undeniable signs that my life is being orchestrated by someone greater than me: finding my wife and pursuing a career in photography. That first story is actually much more interesting (let’s just say it involves waffle house & online dating), but we’ll save it for another time.

That brings me to my last thought… my success is also only success because of other people in my life. That first one is, of course my wife- who has stood by me through every doubtful moment I’ve had and given me her faith that yes, I could (and should) do this.

So many others. Those early photography teachers. The early clients who saw something in me before anyone else did and made sure to tell everyone they possibly could about this new photographer they’d found. (you guys are still my clients, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you). The new clients who encourage me with a fresh look at my work. The other local photographers, both aspiring & professional, who have such a great spirit of friendship rather than that of competition. The  friends I’ve made in the last few years that helped me make Joplin my home. The creatives I know who constantly brainstorm with me and show me how to be a better photographer and a better businessman.  The folks who’ve helped me get connected. And most recently, Michelle- the employee who is cranking out work for me so I don’t have to be a one-man-show anymore. (thanks for putting up with my daily ranting and all the times I’ve thrown hot coffee in your face because you didn’t make it right.)

The point is, I’ve done nothing alone. No-one is immune from developing an ego. So always remind me that my success… is not my success.

Love you all. If you read all this, love you even more. 

Next post is more pictures, I swear.

PS… one last thanks [as they’re dragging me off stage]… all the folks that have assisted me on shoots lately, w/out even getting paid for it. The barker boys, Natalie, Alison, Matt & Amber, and anyone else who has ever held my huge ugly umbrella in the face of a windstorm… you’re awesome. I’m devoting a picture gallery to you all, very soon.


Samantha + Josh :: engagement session

    Samantha & Josh are the absolute sweetest couple. The kind of couple you can’t help but enjoy being around. They exude young love so perfectly… it’s going to be a wonderful wedding. Enough sap from me. Here’s some pictures. 🙂


saved the best for last. Yep… they love sonic, and so do I!