Liz & Chris:: a winter wedding

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We all had a really ice time at Liz & Chris’ wedding.

Terrible puns aside, it was beautiful. I know we were all worried on that day back in December that the weather would get the best of the day and make it difficult for guests to be there: but instead, we got the best day… one in which the world was truly a winter wonderland, the trees coated in an amazing coat of ice, but roads were still miraculously drivable.

A little backstory: Liz is the sister of one of my best friends, Nathan Arnold, an all around awesome (and extremely goofy) guy. I’ve taken pictures of he & Kim’s son Keagan the last 2 years or so, and am excited about continuing to work with their family with the introduction of its’ newest member, baby Declan (you’ll get to see him in photographs next week).

Liz is very sweet and also has a great goofy side. I wasn’t able to get to know her fiancé Chris until the big day itself, but we quickly hit it off. As soon as I saw his grooms’  cake, I knew we shared some nerdiness (that’s the cake on the right, of course)…

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It was great to be there, and might I say that the couple and the wedding party were all troopers. Nathan’s wife Kim was very, very pregnant and still put in her all as a dedicated bridesmaid, and we actually brought the whole crew outside for pictures in freezing drizzle. The couple themselves spent a good chunk of time out in the cold, and it turned out to be a once-in-a-lifetime photographic opportunity.

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So here ya go, folks. First wedding I’ve posted in awhile… enjoy!

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The reception was decked out beautifully. Really love the colors and attention to detail…

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First sight. I love Chris’ expression when he turned around… I’d apparently done a poor job of explaining to him that yes, he really could see his bride now, and he thought he was in trouble for a second. He was so panicked and excited at the same time…

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a (VERY) quick excursion outdoors…

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Love the kiddos. This next shot is one of my favorites of the day… a funny and honest moment featuring mr Keagan…

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Liz had this fun idea… the kids shield their eyes while the bridesmaids take the edge off the day… except for Kim, who obviously couldn’t drink. (none of the shots were actually real, by the way)

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So early in the day, Nathan discovered a boombox. It made many more appearances… not all of which I can include here… but I’m just thinking about making a whole separate blog post devoted to the photobombing of the boombox. Questions from the bridesmaids of ‘what’s with the boombox’ were soon ignored and its’ presence no longer questioned…

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back outside. Thankful to Nathan for helping me cart around my equipment and holding the light for me…

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Quick shot of Liz’s sis Rachel & her little family…

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first dance.

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….followed by a big surprise for the guests… a synchronized dance number by the bridesmaids.

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snuck in a rings shot.


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toasts, cake cutting, and other reception fun.

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2013:: the year in…well, what else?

January has been my time to organize, to catch up, and to reflect. No, I haven’t had the month OFF, but I have been ‘under the radar’… getting back in gear and planning for 2014 so I’m ready to roll when the next busy season hits.

So, to celebrate 2013 before it gets buried in the excitement of this NEW YEAR, here’s the annual year-in-review, for both my family and my business…. stuff that happened, in no particular order of time or importance.

In pictures. and a few words.

But mostly pictures…


In 2013, my family & I bought a house. This was probably the coolest thing for us this year… buying our first home. God blessed us with a perfect house for our needs, walking us through a ridiculous number of obstacles to get it. it’s old (we love old) and it’s just a few blocks from downtown, where I work.

The kids ran through the empty space until they pretty  much just collapsed the first time they were in it…



This is the sweet older couple who lived there before us. Took me a while to realize these two photos (which were left in the house on different floors before everything had been cleared out) were the same couple. Before you get teary eyed, they are both alive and well and now live in Louisiana.


And the house truly felt like home to me once I got my record player set up… yes, this completes my hipster self.

records, vinyl, ghostbusters 2 soundtrack, nat king cole

I had the honor of a photograph making it into the national photography competition ‘photospiva‘ at the beginning of the year, with this image of my assistant Michelle’s beautiful daughter.

I also had this photo of a young composer, earn best in the ‘seniors’ division (tied with an image by a local competitor and friend) for a print competition put on by the Missouri chapter of the Professional Photographers of American organization.

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 I drank a whole lot of coffee and enjoyed time in my favorite local coffeeshop, Joplin Ave Coffee Co, working alongside good friends. My studio can feel a little cavelike without windows, so I’m very happy to have such a great establishment to work out of downtown. The owners are kind to not charge me rent at this point, I’m there so often…

I also enjoyed homemade iced coffee at home and an occasional fancy cup at some sweet spots when I travelled, such as ‘coffee ethic’ and ‘the hub’ in springfield, and ‘Oddly Correct’ in Kansas City. That’s always my favorite thing to do in bigger cities… try out the snobby coffee. 🙂

coffeeshop photos from joplin ave coffee co, springfield missouri

I worked a LOT with the convention and visitors’ bureau to visually represent the city of Joplin, Missouri, showing the best of this town in photographs. I’ve enjoyed that challenge greatly, taking pictures of every attraction and local restaurant you can imagine.

What made it even more fun was working under the direction of my good friend Carrie and alongside the CVB’s new copywriter, my good friend Lance Schaubert.
(and yes, when I took pictures of food, sometimes I got to eat the leftovers. Just know that as delicious as they were, they were always cold by the time I got to them…)

basil dish from kinaree, thai restaurant in joplin mo, taken for the joplin convention & visitors bureau

This also gave me the opportunity to shoot really cool things like ‘the Grassroots’ (google em’. You’ll recognize most of their greatest hits, I promise) in concert and the route 66 festival. Backstage access, BOOM!


My kids got bigger for another year. 

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This is Maggie June. She just turned 3.  She’s feisty  & independent but also very sweet…. happy talking to herself in the corner with a collection of stuffed animals for an hour, or (if she’s in the mood, of course) snuggling with us on the couch.

portrait of Maggie, from family and kids photographer 9art photography in Joplin mo

This is Harry Louis. He just turned 5. He thrives on people and interaction and laughter and is very expressive. No idea who that reminds me of.

portrait of Harry Louis from joplin family and children's photographer, 9art photography

kids playing

Harry tried a lot of new things… like his first sport, his first reveal of Darth Vader’s identity, and his first tire change.

harry watching the end of star wars II


Harry has also become a budding photographer. I decided to hand him my camera more this year (I can hear folks  gasping that I’d let my 5 year old hold my bread n’ butter), and he acts like a veteran… holds it perfect, takes time to compose, and even directs his subjects. He took the picture on the right of  my wife Autumn and I…

Harry taking a picture

Maggie, meanwhile, has just worked on being generally cute and putting not just words or sentences together, but perfectly phrased paragraphs.

maggie decorating tree

I started curling my mustache. No really, that’s big news.

mustaches, joplin mo

I shot the biggest project of my career (*so far)… and the dearest to me.

I’ve talked enough lately about ‘Cold Brewed’. The only new thing I’ll add is that it’s currently available for download as an iBook. You can download it here, or find out more about it first by visiting my last blog post on it.

cold brewed cover photo... jett cropper racing to a discovered body

cold brewed outtakes

With the momentum of this personal project behind me, I also began an ongoing series late in the year that will extend into 2014 and I am VERY excited about… because it’s a personal concept series that your own kids can be a part of.  You can find out more about that, here.

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This was also a big year for the 9art photobooth. I’ve never run this event for the purpose of drumming up business to get hired to do more photo booths… but rather, to connect to the community, take part in ‘third thursday’ and show our support for downtown. And of course to have fun and just let people know that 9art is here!

We had our usual run with it, but also new opportunities… including:
Taking pictures of folks with Lightning & Mater themselves at the route 66 festival. The life-size cars were sent in directly from Pixar in August… it was pretty sweet. The first shot is Michelle & I, posing with Lightning. (shot by our friends at Whitney Scott photography).

'cars' themed Photo Booth with lightning mcqueen and mater, route 66 festival, joplin mo

Attendance was huge in 2013 for our monthly third thursday photobooth events…

costumed minions & steampunk alice in wonderland- from joplin mo's third thursday 9art Photo Booth dolphinboy... from joplin mo's third thursday 9art Photo Booth

a favorite from our black and white film noir theme- from joplin mo's third thursday 9art Photo Booth

And even better, I had the opportunity to run a couple of photo booths that went beyond fun (not that they weren’t still fun) and into deeper meaning.

After taking this photo during a ‘thankful’ photobooth for my church, this gentleman came up to me afterward and told me I’d ‘helped an old man stop hurting’. That was an unexpectedly powerful moment for me as a photographer.

emotional Photo Booth photo from college heights christian church 'thankful'

Oh yeah. And we even had a MARRIAGE PROPOSAL at one of our photobooths this year. No, this was not staged. 🙂

marriage proposal at 9art 'photoobooth' during 2013 third thursday event in joplin mo

I met and worked with fellow creatives- some old friends, some new. Hugely inspiring and exciting. One my favorite experiences was getting to know Jorge Leyva, a Peruvian painter/sculpter with an amazing talent and a humble heart. He is probably one of the most fun (and goofy) subjects I’ve ever had the pleasure of photographing. I plan to continue taking portraits of artists as an ongoing series.

Jorge Leyva + fire, joplin mo, photo by 9art photography

I also worked with an eccentric writer named Lance Schaubert so much that we almost finish each-others’ sentences these days. We both worked for the CVB, (he’s their copywriter as of 2013), directed & promoted ‘cold brewed’ together, worked on a project in which HE was the actor during some studio sessions, and bounced ideas & debates back and forth as we worked across the table from each other at the local coffeeshop. Lance and his wife Tara… who are great friends to my family… are moving to Brooklyn this year.  You can find out more about their mission and how to support it here.

cold brewed script, held by lance schaubert

(that’s Lance holding the first copy of the ‘cold brewed’ script on our first day of shooting…)

I challenged my fear of heights, often. 
I stood precariously on so many iffy chairs, ladders, rooftops, etc this past year… that Carrie from the CVB started saying ‘it’s not a real shoot if Mark doesn’t stand on something.’


mark standing on things

by doing so, I got shots like this…

downtown joplin, from above

so of course, it was always worth it.

In a very exciting development, I had my first photo ‘miemed’. I realize that 2013 is a little late to have a photo become a miem, But I don’t care. I’m still proud.

miem stormtrooper star was Photo Booth picture

I got MY face on a mural (along with dozens of other locals for an Art Feeds downtown project) and landed one of my photographs of downtown Joplin as the cover to the ‘Names & Numbers’ phonebook this year.

art feeds mural + joplin names and numbers phonebook

Here’s the full shot:

downtown joplin missouri at night, main street, by 9art photography

Expanded 9art’s commercial side even more, doing work for organizations like CIY


CIY commercial shoot by 9art photography in joplin mo... with pandas

and regularly doing covers for the freshly re-designed ‘Joplin Business Journal. Also started a new ad campaign that premiered in the ‘biz journal.

joplin business journal cover and ad campaign

And last but not least, I gained some fantastic new family and wedding clients… and  watched kids grow within families that were already beloved 9art ‘regulars’. 

the Eidson girls, graduates of 9art photograph's 'baby's first year' plan in Joplin, MO

‘Cold Brewed’ available for order

    So I haven’t posted in anything in about a month. That’s awhile for me.

I have a post planned to talk about the ‘new year’; my annual hi-lighting of the last year and look at head at the next. But before I get to that one, here’s something more immediate and exciting… couldn’t have picked a better way to break the silence than to announce:

‘Cold Brewed’ is available for order in the i-tunes store.

What IS Cold Brewed? I’ve been blabbing incessantly about it for the last year, but if your’e new to me and my work, you may still need a quick rundown…

from the noir i-book, 'cold brewed': Jett Cropper gets a 2 x 4 to the face

‘Cold Brewed’ is a story presented in words and pictures, telling the tale of a ‘grinder’ named Jett Cropper in a 1940s world where it’s coffee that’s under prohibition (rather than alcohol). Jett is searching for truth behind a series of murders and a mystery of caffeinated proportions.

The story pays homage to the classic film-noir genre where Humphrey Bogart, trench coats, and hard shadows ruled the screen, but turns the genre on its’ head with the alternate reality of a past where coffee was illegal. It’s cinematic, but the method of telling the story in a way that weaves text and stills in virtual format is new… best presented in an i-book form.

My good friend Lance Schaubert wrote the brilliant story and worked with me as co-director & producer, as I shot hundreds of black and white period photographs over the period of 6 months last year. This is my biggest project to date, and while I know it has its’ flaws, I’m pretty proud of it.

If you read all that and are interested in going ahead and pre-ordering… you can do that HERE. It’s just 4 bucks, so nothing that will break the bank… that’s less than 1/2 of of what you’d pay to watch a movie in our crappy Joplin theater. 🙂

If you want to take a look at a ‘best of’ gallery of photos only that I put up last year- to give you a better idea of the look and feel of the series- you can do that HERE.

BUY this thing and spread the word, and you’ll be supporting a coupla guys trying to tell a story in a new way… and raise the money to go and do it again. 🙂 Thanks, guys.