David

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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.

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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.

-Mark

playing in the snow

Got outside with my kids last night. It was getting dark…. the streetlights were kicking on…and it randomly started snowing, a lot. I always, whether I mean to or not, notice the lighting going on… and in that moment it was kind of magical.

Instead of heading in like I’d planned, I grabbed the camera for a couple of quick snowportraits (it’s a word. as of now).

Loving the new 50mm 1.4D lens I got a couple of weeks back… as well as the new camera (Nikon D810). My replacement equipment is certainly proving itself!

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Jessica & Caleb :: Mrs. & Mrs!!

Had so much fun at Jessica & Caleb’s wedding.  These are very sweet and genuine people, not to mention just really good looking. Also enjoyed getting out of Joplin to shoot this day in Neosho, Missouri at the Civic  & the Neosho United Methodist church.

Thanks to Lori Marble, Jessica’s wonderful stepmom who was the one to recommend me as a photographer to the couple. Wayyyyyyy back when I went to good ol’ Crowder College, Lori knew me… and she will forever refer to me as ‘sticky boy’… possibly my most ridiculous nickname to date. It was earned bc I was always putting up flyers on campus and the maintenance lady would often complain to Lori about all the tape I left on the doors (yep. that’s it).

Doesn’t matter if a nickname is cool or not… if it sticks, it *sticks*…. 🙂

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_011saw this awesome little diner across the street from the church and asked Jessica what she thought about taking pictures here. It just so happened, its’ her favorite restaurant in Neosho. 🙂 Didn’t get a chance to try the burgers at Charley’s grill, but good GRIEF they smelled amazing.

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in the midst of pictures, a customer asked if he could photo bomb. See, I’m ok with photo bombs if you just ask first…. _013

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_015the interior of this historic church is gorgeous.

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one of my favorites!

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_022I couldn’t resist… you can’t see them here, but family members were hanging around while we did these last few in the church. Poor Jessica was getting more and more nervous with the ONslaught of ONlookers…

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…So I just went with it.

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_028it was a fun bunch. They more than made up for being outside on a very hot day.

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lots of brotherly love. Maybe too much. Maybe too brotherly.

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_032if you have a wheelbarrow available as a prop….

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my view, + peripheral. _036

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_038follow the break for the ceremony & reception… plenty more fun to be had. Including batman.
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‘Messages’:: July’s photobooth

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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!

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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).

anticipation.

beautiful St Peters’ church, here in downtown Joplin.

Yay!

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

HOLD ON!

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!

Kids are the REAL rock stars (Hunter, session 3)

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    Sometimes, I look at the style that has evolved out of my work, and it feels odd that I take pictures of…babies. I mean, I also take pictures of a lot of other very different things. Weddings, food, downtown scenery, bands & 1940s detectives…but it seems like babies would be the last subject on my list when it comes simply to analyzing the sometimes over-the-top epic shooting style that I tend to take on. 

     But why not? Babies & other children in general are much cooler than we are. They’re as honest as honest gets, pure, funny, and of course adorable… so why can’t I take pictures of them in the same way I’d take pictures of a band or a superhero or some other more seemingly ‘epic’ subject?

That being said, I start with the simple shots… the ones that focus on the expressions & chubby cheeks, quiet moments that are captured in a more classic and timeless way. Sometimes, if you add too much ‘style’ to a picture, it takes away from the subject. 

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But after that… I like to break out the off-camera-flash, the wide angle lens, and lay on the ground or climb a tree for dramatic angles, to capture kids in a stylized and quirky way. It’s fun feeling to see my work take on a unique look. And even more fun plugging that into a genre of family photography that isn’t always approached in a very fresh light. 

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If that came across as egotistical… shoot me.

(And not with a camera).

Enough rambling. Here’s more of the real stars of the show… baby Hunter & big brother Parker. these are some ridiculously cute children. And my camera has NOTHING to do with that fact.

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the Burgetts

Seems like maybe a year back, I took this picture of the Burgetts, expecting their first baby.

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OH WAIT! That can’t be right, bc here’s that same family NOW…

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I’ve said it before, and once again… TIME FLIES. 

The Burgetts are old friends of mine… Levi & I worked at Starbucks together back in the day, and I still have memories of messing with people (harmlessly, just so you know) in the drive thru. Levi’s airport controller voice (‘ahhh…breaker breaker…we’re gonna need a latte…’) still rings in my ears sometimes…

This family has been in and out of the country over the last couple of years, and it’s nice to see them back for pictures when they’re in town. Last time they were here it was just little Laila… here she is now, posing with her ‘baby’s 1st year’ book that also serves as my studio sample. 

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Now there’s a new kid in town… Laila’s baby brother Archie. 

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I love this… but of course I WOULD love a photo involving a camera…

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I’m ending this with a fun side note: Levi is also kicking off his acting career for me & lance schaubert… playing a character in our upcoming film noir project ‘cold brewed’. Read more about that here

Til’ next time! 

Beth & Nick’s wedding

       First wedding I’ve ever shot at my own church…which is kind of crazy! Because it’s a pretty big church.  So glad to have the privilege of working with Beth & Nick last month… and we got some super fun shots, so take THAT dreary winter day! Especially when it comes to this amazing evening SKY…

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I’m putting my very favorites up here… you can follow the jump to see more from the day if you like!

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I love the little guy in the middle. He wasn’t quite ready yet for the group shoot… I told them it was so much better this way. 

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How do I get around guys feeling ‘awkward’ during group pictures? GO WITH IT! (excellent expressions, by the way, gentlemen…)

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joy! nervous joy, but JOY!

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Beth & Nick had an awesome coffee/espresso bar, as hosted by the fantastic coffee-shop Coffee Ethic out of Springfield. I’m in springfield and drinking a delicious cup of single origin coffee at this very moment, made by the barista you see in the middle of this shot behind the counter (yes, you’ve got to look pretty closely…) 

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see more by following the jump…

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good thing these ladies weren’t aware of the camera.

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had the opportunity to shoot a different perspective of ‘the kiss’ for this ceremony… I think it’s so fun to be able to get the audience as well as the couple for this once in a lifetime moment!

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the dj ROCKED it!

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