You know it’s summer in Montana when everything is on fire. This month I swear I’ve come home from almost every shift smelling like some kind of smoke: grass fire smoke, camp fire smoke, wild fire smoke and house fire smoke. A friend of mine calls it being covered in “Montana perfume.” I better get used to my new fragrance because fire season is far from over.
This month I spent a lot of time hopping in and out of my car, chasing fires and air tankers. I saw some beautiful skies in a variety of different places and met some really interesting people. This months images made me realize that my favorite colors at the moment are red and pink. It’s funny how you begin to notice certain themes when making images. Color and scale definitely prove to be prominent for July. I also started challenging myself to only use my fixed 50mm f/1.4 with my assignments. By doing so it forces me to move around, get closer and create a more intimate image (not to mention how nice it is to carry a body with a smaller lens.) Challenges like this are super beneficial for my growth and keep me on my toes as I go from daily to daily. I’ve found it’s super easy to get comfortable with long glass and a wide angle (which are great, don’t get me wrong.) But I definitely encourage challenging yourself to use a length that will force you to move.
I once put a piece of duct tape on the 35mm line of my wide angle when I shot an event. It made me move way more than usual and minimized the temptation to zoom in and out. That was a lovely little tip shared from a photojournalist I look up to so much, Lisa Krantz.
Because I spent a lot of time on the road, I discovered a new podcast that I would like to share with all my visual pals. It’s called No Filter and features interviews with some of the most influential photographers conducted by Robin Moore. I haven’t finished all the episodes yet but I have learned so much through the experiences of these photographers. Their advice and lessons learned have really put in perspective what I do and the importance of taking care of my physical and mental self when pursuing this wild and wacky career. I really recommend Lynn Johnson and Pete Muller to start!
“The work has to come from that deep place [like a profound experience in your life that gives you purpose]. And then you will learn the tools that you need to do that work. But if you start from the outside – ‘I have to know how to do video, and audio and stills, and I have to know this program and that program’ – you’re starting on that widest circle. Whatever level you are, starting from that interior self and working out is the best way.” - Lynn Johnson
“I would advise younger photographers to put your head down and think about what you are shooting and why. Think about how you can add to the conversation. Think about how to contextualize your work in broader conversations that are unfolding. Try to make yourselves relevant by contextualizing yourself appropriately and situating yourself in discourse that’s interesting and important beyond photography.” - Pete Muller
Now, back to chasing fires…