Monthly Challenge : Pillsbury Mountain

Phew! The holiday season has come and gone and as a result, it's been well over a month since my last blog post. Working at a ski mountain means ensuring everyone enjoys their holiday break at the expense of your own.

Now that schedules are returning to normalcy, I've finally found the time to blog a new project in the works.

Amber, from Saddleback Studios, and I are so excited to grow in our photography this upcoming year that we've decided to challenge ourselves with monthly shoots.

Rather than beginning in January (which probably would have made more sense), we took advantage of this year's unseasonably warm temperatures and did our first challenge shoot in December.

Early one morning, before sunrise, we met up to hike a local mountain. We had hiked it earlier in the fall and were captivated by one particular spot near the summit of the mountain. All of a sudden, you seem to be instantly transported to the misty forests of the Pacific Northwest.

What was challenging for this shoot was the changing light. Since we started hiking well before sunrise, the beginning of our shoot captured dark, moody light. Plus, there were clusters of thick woods and fog which created dynamic images in terms of lighting. As the sun rose higher, it began to break through the fog which created significant changes between images taken mere seconds apart.

Amber and I want to use these sessions as learning experiences. To play with creative ideas without feeling pressured by time constraints or a paying client. A time to work out the bugs and grow as photographers.

(See the difference in lighting? All it took was that split second where the sun broke through the fog and then disappeared again! Cool tones then BAM- instant warmth.)

This shoot marked my one-year anniversary of taking my photography to the next level. Prior to this year, it was a hobby- something I enjoyed here and there but never quite took seriously as an occupation.

Now, with a year under my belt and the passion of photography in my blood, I've set a few personal goals for myself with what I'd like to accomplish and focus on over the next 12 months. The first being work consistency. I'm drawn to darker, moodier, almost grungy images but I'm finding it challenging to balance that dynamic with clean edits. Already over the last year, I've seen my editing style mature dramatically and I'm looking forward to finessing it even more in 2016.

I'm also striving to create more dynamic images. Dynamic in terms of movement and emotion. Dynamic poses. Dynamic connection. I want to create image that pull you, as the viewer, in. Images that force you to study them a few seconds longer than you normally would.

As the morning wore on and the light continued to change, I wanted to take advantage of those shifts and pose Amber to match. The above image has strong lighting and I wanted to capture movement in that. Below, the light had diffused and become softer so I shot accordingly. But, and here I am, being perfectly honest with what I struggle with, the edits are completely different! Both look good when they stand alone, but as a collection, they don't match.

All in all, it's been an incredible year though! It's exciting to look back and see how much I've grown (and maybe cringe a little bit at some of my earlier work). 2016 already looks to be another year of amazing growth as these monthly challenges continue, weddings begin again, styled shoots are planned, and one heck of a photography trip with Katch Silva and Ben Sasso as leaders takes place in Iceland!

I wanted to close this post with two images of Amber. The left was the FIRST portrait I took, fittingly of Amber. She practically had to beg me to take it as before that point, photographing another human made me want to crawl out of my skin. The right is from this last shoot. How appropriate my first and last shoot would be of Amber!

What a year.

To see Amber's images of the same day, go check out her blog HERE.