Makenzie & Nate wedding

Mackenzie & Nate are lovely people with a fuller reception that I’ve seen in some time. When this many people show up to your wedding and reception (record observed number of simultaneous “cupid shuffle” dancers for me), you’ve gotta be good people. Or famous. I don’t think they’re famous. So that seems to answer what kind of people they are… 😉

Enjoy perusing this set from the day!

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This is David. The ‘humans of new york’ style portraiture isn’t usually my style (though I, of course, love that series), but today was a day I HAD to ask a stranger if I could take his portrait. Maybe I should thank Brandon Stanton for helping give me the courage to ask more people if I could photograph them.

I ran into David just outside my studio today, in downtown Joplin. He was hunting for his cat. We talked for a second, and then he asked if I’d mind if he sat down. I overrode my ‘I have to get back to work’ urges and said sure.

Here’s the story I heard after David sat down.

Once upon a time, David was a network engineer. He made $120 an hour to troubleshoot network issues for huge companies. He could make thousands in a week, and was an extremely tech savvy guy.

He told me everything changed one day when he spied a 15 year old couple sitting on a park bench.

The couple weren’t interacting with each other… they were texting. ‘they were in love’ said David, ‘but they didn’t know it.’

It was right then that David suddenly made a decision that he was done with life the way he’d been living it.

‘I’d had enough.’

He did something that I think we’ve all joked about doing… after living in Louisiana for a time, he literally took his smartphone, drove to the murkiest swamp he could find in Mississippi, and threw it in.

He threw his smartphone. Into a swamp. Can you imagine actually doing that?

He told me that with a chuckle. What’s David been doing since then? Traveling the country in a van, with his cat, stopping from town to town to preach and to play music on a 12 string guitar.

What do you play? I asked him.

’70s lutheran camp songs. They make people nostalgic.’

You can’t make this stuff up.

David was full of thoughts, some of which might have seemed a little ‘out there’ to folks. But to balance the passion of his chosen topics was a peace that made his smile come all the way out through his eyes. Sure enough, he preached for a bit. But it wasn’t forced… it was just to say that Jesus was his answer, to not let yourself be caught in the trappings of money, to do to others what you’d want done to you…pretty basic stuff.

‘the simplicity of it!’ he said with a  huge grin.

I asked if I could take his picture. He said sure, and asked if that was a bible I’d had sitting next to me. Yep, I said, I’d brought it to read on my lunch break. So he flipped through it while I ran to grab my camera, and was reading it when I came back.


I don’t know if he’s found his cat yet. ‘We’ve been to so many cities together,’ he said. ‘she knows that van. I guess I’ll just stay put til she comes back, even if I gotta stay another day or two. she’ll find it.’

He wasn’t worried.

I’ll be honest. I’m not going to throw my smartphone into a swamp. But I will say I’ll be thinking more about how to live simply this weekend.


Route 66 international festival

I shot quite a few pics at this amazing festival here in Joplin a week or so back, and am just now getting to this post!! Been driving me crazy, because I couldn’t wait to share these images after capturing them.

It was such an incredible experience. Photographed kiddos in front of Lightning McQueen & Mater on thursday night at the drive in, then again on saturday night right, around the corner from my studio in downtown Joplin.

The night didn’t end after the cars were hauled away on saturday night… ended up on 3 different rooftops to capture pictures of the crowds for the Joplin CVB (the CVB hosted the festival and gave me the wonderful opportunity to set up the photobooth), then, in a very unplanned turn of events, ended up there until 11 to shoot ‘the Grass Roots’… backstage access and everything. 🙂

Want to know what’s funny? Half-spraining my ankle that night. Did it happen when I climbed a rickety ladder and over a big gap to get to one roof? Or when I heaved myself over to another rooftop from a fire escape to get another shot?

Oh, neither. It happened while I was climbing down some very ordinary, safe stairs.

THAT’S  my answer to people who get nervous when I do dangerous things to get the perfect picture: I’m perfectly fine when I’m laying in traffic, jumping rooftops, or climbing trees… it’s when I’m just walking that I injure myself.

On to the pictures…

These two are some of my favorite ‘photobooth’ regulars from third thursday here in Joplin. Flipping love the expression…


this is one happy boy.


this might be an even happier boy.

_001cThe two fellas in the middle are the ones responsible for controlling/hauling the cars, surrounded by the Joplin PD officers who ‘guarded’ our favorite pixar characters while they were surrounded by people at the event. It was an impromptu picture I had to grab before the vehicles went back into the trailer that night.

_001dDid I mention the cars were remote controlled? Whoa…



Being there while they loaded these up was so surreal. A literal hush fell over the enormous crowd for like, 30 minutes.

_003bGood to see downtown streets packed out! There was a great car show lining main street…



quick capture. This guy is great.


there’s the trailer that Lightning and Mater were loaded onto… it was headed to New York that night.



concert time!


Wait. WHO are the grass roots, you ask? They’re the group responsible for at least a half dozen of your favorite oldies, if 60s music is your thing. Go check em’ out.  ‘oh THAT song and THAT song and THAT song!’ will likely be your reaction…

And they still sound pretty danged amazing for a group that’s been performing for the last 50+ years.






It’s nights like these that remind me I love what I’m doing and it’s absolutely what I’m meant to do. Very blessed!

I’d also like to thank the CVB again for this opportunity and many others this past year…. thanks especially to my good friend Carrie, who is truly helping Joplin REPRESENT! Check out the Joplin CVB facebook page here and become a fan. If you see them post a photo… chances are I took it.

9art NEWS:: part 1

Hey there. How’s your summer going?

Sometimes, in the middle of all the craziness, it’s time to stop, slow down, and take stock. That’s what I’m doing over the next week and a half. And as I’m taking the time to do that, I want to fill you guys in on the latest… we have news that will make you cry, that will make you cheer, and that may just make you open up your e-mail window right now and drop us a line.

(that line could be angry, or it could be excited. I guess we’ll see).

This post will focus on what’s coming up. I only have one spot of bad news, so I’m going to pattern this post after the ‘compliment sandwich’ formula.

If you’re not sure what a compliment sandwich is, it’s ok.  Here’s a picture I took of someone making a sandwich.


#1:  Mini-session special!

We are running a BACK-TO-SCHOOL SPECIAL for week after next: there will be TWO DATES available for 9art mini sessions, featuring your favorite little (or even medium) one. Because let’s face it, school photos are lame. Real lame. We want you to do better than that…

  • 15 minute session
  • 2yr olds thru-16 yr olds
  • these will focus on individual portraits, but we’ll probably let you sneak a sibling or two in. Parents will not be included in   these sessions, however.
  • two windows to schedule a session:

THURSDAY, AUG 29, between 3pm & 8pm  ///  SATURDAY, AUG 31, between 8am & 5pm

  • sitting fee is just $20
  • better book your slot now… these may be gone in a hurry. 🙂

#2: *cough*nophotobooththismonth*cough

I realize this is an announcement we should’ve made sooner…. we are NOT participating in August third thursday.  Some of you have already known about this (especially those who have been attending long enough to know we generally DO take August off from 3TH), but for those who had no idea this was coming- and were really looking forward to it- I’m sorry.

Why? We need a break. 🙂 We need to recharge. August is our month to BREATHE before the madness of fall sets in; and especially since we haven’t had much of a chance to breathe just yet this month, it’s time for a little rest.

But guess what? We WILL be back, full force, in September. What’s the theme ? Well we won’t give any clues just yet, but you might get your capes ready… 😉

#3:  Special for full sessions announced next week!

For those of you thinking about booking full sessions for september & october…. it’s time to act soon.  That’s always our busiest time of year and now is the time we start filling the calendar. Think it over this week, then stay tuned for another special in that direction NEXT week.

More news coming up soon… but next time, more of what we’ve been up to, not what we’re planning next…

Dylon :: 16

Dylon just turned 16, and to celebrate, we took pictures! Such an honor to be able to take these pictures, since Dylon is the son of my cousin Jake… and I can tell you, he looks JUST like his dad. 🙂

We shot these in and around the Carthage baseball stadium, since Dylon plays there often. We also got to take some pics with his moms’ brand new convertible… well, by brand new, I mean brand new to the family.

Lots of blue in this post. LOTS of blue. I love blue….










‘Messages’:: July’s photobooth


It’s been 2 years and 2 months since the May 11th tornado that wiped out nearly a third of my fair city, and my home with it.

It’s easy to forget that. Which, for some folks may not be all bad- because it was a hard thing to go through. But there’s two reasons I cannot LET myself forget.

#1: because God blessed me, my family, and my town in an incomprehensible way- by providing us with safety that night, and by saving hundreds of others with an endless, thankful barrage of ‘I should’ve‘ stories… ‘I should’ve been home….’ ‘I should’ve been asleep…’ ‘I should’ve died.’

#2: Because this didn’t JUST happen to Joplin. Now it’s happened somewhere else (Moore, OK). Joplin wasn’t the first, or the last tragedy to affect the lives and homes of masses. Because I know what that was like- as many of you do as well- I know how easy important the steady stream of encouragement and help is not just during the first ’emergency mode’ wave of shock, but also for months and months afterward as lives are put back together, piece by piece, donation by donation, volunteer by volunteer.

That was a long, dramatic introduction to a generally very lighthearted topic… the third thursday photobooth, here in Joplin Missouri. But I had to give some insight into what’s behind the more serious theme for this month: ‘MESSAGES’.

The idea is, those who come to the photobooth thursday night can contribute a message of hope to Moore, Oklahoma, either creating a sign on-site (markers, paper, etc provided) or by bringing a pre-made sign or piece of art. You can say anything you want… the idea is to encourage those in Oklahoma who lost their homes, who are still struggling to get back on their feet. And if you have a little extra to give, donations will also be taken at the booth. We’ll send both the messages and the donations to Moore when we’ve got it all pulled together.

I think this can be a really powerful thing. Is it because this is a super original, one-of-a-kind idea? Well, no. When I talked to Meg Hulsey from art feeds about my concern of this being a bit similar to some ideas they’d enacted, she responded lightly with ‘Holding signs while taking a photo wasn’t invented by Art Feeds and isn’t an original idea by us’. But she also said to go for it, because it could mean a lot to people.

This also isn’t the first time I’ve done this… I did it two years ago, after the Joplin tornado. You can see that post here.

Hope to see you all at third thursday, and I can’t wait to share the final gallery!


film noir photobooth!

Many of you also subscribe to our facebook page, in which case you’ve already seen these. But if not… here’s a few favorites from last month’s #thirdthursday photobooth, sponsored by the project ‘cold brewed’.

A few words on cold brewed… it is an online photo-comic that weaves a tale of murder, mystery, and… coffee. Its’ set in a 1940s world in which coffee is illegal and roasters compete for the local trade: a film noir with a twist.

My good friend lance schaubert wrote the story, and yours truly handled the photography. It’s by far the biggest series I’ve ever undertaken, and we’re currently in the process of lining up a publisher. If you’d like to get a glimpse, you can peruse my ‘best of’ post here… or go directly to the Cold Brewed site here.

In the meanwhile, I also run a monthly photobooth for Joplin, Missouri’s ‘third thursday’ art walk events. I really wanted to try something new for this one, and wasn’t sure how it would go over- all black and white, time period, with a not-always-family-friendly genre tamed down for the multitudes of kiddos that come through.

The response was tremendous! People loved it, and I was encouraged more than ever to think outside the box. Can’t wait to announce the next theme, later today….

Here’s my favorites from June! 1





























Kaitlyn + Dak :: married, oh yeah!

    What a dream wedding this was for me to shoot. Super laid back people, great conversation between (and during) shooting, unseasonably gorgeous weather, an intense passion between the couple so beautiful to capture, plenty of time allowed on my part to get everything I needed to get, and just a general sense of fun and people refusing to take themselves too seriously… even if it IS their day.

    That’s a pretty common vibe to all the dandy brides and grooms I have the pleasure of working with. I am lucky, lucky, lucky… or, to phrase it more accurately, very very blessed, to have the clients I have. 

    Enough jibba jabba (as Mr. T would put it). On with the show!

kinda want this to be a magazine cover. Sooooo… which one of you magazines is going to do that? 🙂

Kaitlyn apologized for downing a hamburger during portrait time. I said ‘don’t apologize… go AT IT!’ 

(PS… whatever fast food chain that was… we can’t even SEE your patties. For real. That’s a pathetic burger).


beautiful St Peters’ church, here in downtown Joplin.


we switch to drama pretty quick.

this old school spiral staircase at St Peters’ is one of my absolute favorite spots. The light is so beautiful in there…. perfect for catching the intimacy I wanted to convey for this VERY-in-love and passionate couple.

these next two were some of the couples’ favorite shots from the day… the ones I was thinking ‘this will probably be a little too far out’… goes to show, you should never argue with your gut. 🙂

lots more pictures after the break… click on to keep going!

the reception was so nicely done. Love the colors and the attention to detail. Love Springhouse gardens, the venue where this took place. And cupcakes. I really love cupcakes.

one of the simplest shots of the day, but also one of my favorites. The red really ‘pops’ (yep, that’s the token art class 101 word you were looking for).

some guys need a little coaching on how to give that GQ look. (No amount of coaching would ever work on me if the lens were flipped, actually). But not this guy… no sir.

oh, we got normal bridesmaid pictures too. But I prefer these…

EPIC HIGH FIVE!! I may start demanding one of these for every shoot from here on out.

the flower girl requested she and the bride go for a spin. The sweet bride obliged. 

1st dance


let the wild rumpus start!

MAN he got into it. Just glad I was there with a camera.

final shot of the night. Last shot doesn’t usually turn out this epic. It was a beautiful night!

Kevin dances.

    Every now and then, I have a reception so crazy, so energetic, so dance-tastic, that I have to dedicate a blog post to it.

    But this is the first time that I’ve dedicated a blog post solely to ONE INDIVIDUAL at such a celebration. 

    Kevin, you put on those moves without an ounce of alcohol. You danced without abandon, fiercely, never running low on energy, with as dramatic a dance-floor presence as I’ve probably ever had the privilege to witness. Your mighty poise, your intensity, your ability to wield small children within your routine, deserves attention. 

    That’s right, Kevin…. this post is for you.










This one cracks me up. It was my photo editor Michelle who noticed the boy in the background…


I will deviate from Kevin for just a moment to show he’s not the only one that put on the moves…

Guess what this song is. 


Yep. That’s a rousing chorus of ‘Iris’ by Goo Goo dolls…

And here’s some harlem shuffle.  (where’s Kevin? Up on stage, videoing for the youtube video, of course!)




Here’s to you, Kevin… and to Camille & Luke, the bride and groom! You can see more from their big day (because, after all, this day was about them) here.

photobooth marriage proposal!

    Aaron called me a few weeks back and set something in motion that is, without a doubt, the coolest thing to happen yet at the photo booth. 

    The plan was, he’d sneakily take his girlfriend Emily to the art walk. Then he’d sneakily walk past the 9art photo booth. ‘Let’s check this out!’ he’d say. (And she ended up thinking that going in was HER idea).

They’d stand in line just like everyone else, take a regular pic or two (in our film-noir theme we had going for third thursday, in celebration of our ‘cold brewed’ series)…


then, Aaron would ask me, ‘do you  mind if we snap a quick picture without the costumes?’

I’d say ‘sure’, and then… 








congratulations, Aaron & Emily… and thanks so much to Aaron for letting me be a part of the experience!