Congratulations Class of 2017 – The First Graduates Post SB319

governor Steve Bullock signs SB319 into law at Senior High in Billings.
western native voice day of action SB319
Students standing with representatives of the American Indian Caucus

This year, Montana high school graduates were able to cross the stage and pick up their diplomas while wearing traditional regalia. This standardization of dress-code resulted from the hard work of Senator Jen Gross (SD-25) and Western Native Voice (which is how I got involved.) Even with all that hard work, the bill (SB319) would never have become law without the testimonies of several high school students making their way to the capitol and testifying during a committee hearing last winter.

beadwork on mortar boards and other traditional regalia was outlawed until SB319
Beadwork on mortar boards was outlawed by some Montana schools until SB319 was signed into law just days before graduation.

I had the opportunity to film that committee hearing in Helena and the subsequent bill signing here in Billings. The students spoke very eloquently about both how they wanted to honor their traditions, as well as their disappointment with the patchwork of different rules set by each school regarding traditional regalia. I believe their passion and professionalism changed minds in that committee meeting. These students are the next generation of leaders. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do next.

I hope to release a short film about these students’ push to have their traditions (as well as the traditions of other, non-native groups) recognized as meaningful.


Filming the Globetrotters for the American Red Cross

nonprofit video and photography of the harlem globetrotters and the american red cross

Once in a while you get the opportunity to be swept up in a great event. For me, that was a night filming the Harlem Globetrotters for the American Red Cross. The Red Cross and the Globetrotters have long been partners in disaster relief, but this is the first time that the Globetrotters donned special Red Cross jerseys (only the third time in Globetrotter’s history they’ve changed out of their red, white, and blue jerseys.)

The crowd was lively, to say the least, and the fact that the Miles City, Montana, gymnasium was tiny just added to the intimacy of the event. And the fact that it was helping the Red Cross, just made it better.

Here are a few screenshots from the footage. When I see a video using the footage, I’ll post that, too.

nonprofit video and photography of the harlem globetrotters and the american red cross
Big Easy handing a game ball to a local boy who showed his skills at the free-throw line.
nonprofit video and photography of the harlem globetrotters and the american red cross
Another massive slam-dunk but eh globetrotters (this looks even more brutal in slow-motion.)
nonprofit video and photography of the harlem globetrotters and the american red cross
Globetrotters line up to sign balls and get high-fives from the crowd.
nonprofit video and photography of the harlem globetrotters and the american red cross
These guys get a workout just from the autograph lines.
nonprofit video and photography of the harlem globetrotters and the american red cross
Serious high-five.
nonprofit video and photography of the harlem globetrotters and the american red cross
Getting ready to put it away.


Photographing Well-Strung for Arts Without Boundaries

well-strung, music, musicians, concert

I had a great time photographing Well-Strung for Arts Without Boundaries as they gave concerts at the local high schools, as well as a public concert at the Alberta Bair Theater.

well-strung, music, quartet, musicians, arts without boundaries
String quartet Well-Strung playing for hundreds of middle school kids.

Well-Strung is a New York-based string quartet that mashes up classical music with pop songs to create “pop-ssicals”. The music style, as well as the band’s genuine passion and friendliness really engaged students with their art. Unlike many musicians who go into a school, play a few songs and answer a couple questions, then leave, the guys spent a large chunk of time really talking to students about their relationship with music. I think that it was as much the group’s interaction with the kids as their exceptional music that earned them a standing ovation from the Central High student body.

It’s something special to see a program that really touches hundreds of kids the way Arts Without Boundaries concerts do. Here are a few photos of the charismatic musicians playing for the kids.

well-strung, billings, montana, documentary photography
Well-Strung holding the attention of seven hundred middle school students.

well-strung, billings, montana, documentary photography


well-strung, music, musicians, schools, billings, montana, documentary photography
Well-Strung playing at the Alberta Bair Theater the next night. Many of the seats were filled with music students from around Montana attending the state music conference.

well-strung, music, musicians, schools, documentary

You didn’t know I did photography? Check out my services page to learn more about all of the things I do to support great organizations. Give me a call with your photography and video needs. I’m looking forward to helping you tell your stories!

Stillwater Creek #WaterIsLife

water, environment, world water day

I took a trip up the Stillwater drainage in the Beartooth Mountains earlier this spring to do some camera tests. The Stillwater is one of those clear,  still-pristine creeks that flows out of the mountains–the kind that reminds you how important water really is.

Never take it for granted.

Music by the esteemed Chris Zabriskie.

Project in Development – Farming Carbon

carbon, climate change, global warming, documentary, carbon sequestration

Can we sequester all of the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with the biggest side-effect being healthier soil?

My new feature-length documentary project Farming Carbon hopes to answer that question.

Trillions of microorganisms live beneath our feet. These bacteria and fungi are the drivers of all life on Earth. Until recently, these microbes were a mystery. New technologies, as well as a reemergence of scientific studies dating back more than a century, are starting to unlock the secrets of this unseen biomass.
Researchers are realizing that these microbes are essential for many coveted soil features such as drought and flood resistance, as well as robust plant growth. They’re even starting to understand how healthy soil can sequester atmospheric carbon far cheaper and more effectively than any current technology. That rich, black soil that will grow almost anything? That’s the carbon. And the more carbon that’s anchored in the soil, the healthier and more productive the land becomes.

farmer, rancher, carbon farming, montanaFarming Carbon will follow Steve Charter as he experiments with intensive grazing techniques and organic inputs in an effort to keep his ranch viable in the face of losing half of his land to a strip mine. Steve’s hands-on experience will serve as the backdrop for a story about rural resilience, and the science of healthy soil and carbon sequestration. The film will explore how pushback from the agriculture industry has hampered soil research as well as dig into the risks farmers face when challenging the status quo.

soil carbon film still
Intensive cattle grazing that mimics natural herding builds soil health.

The film will feature the voices of soil experts including Nicole Masters, Director of Integrity Soils and many others. These experts will weigh in on the science behind soil’s ability to capture carbon and grow better food as a result. Farmers who have pioneered these practices in their own fields will also describe the challenges of implementing these new techniques on an agricultural scale and the results they’ve achieved.

Farming Carbon hopes to illustrate the food-based benefits of good soil practices as well as provide a blueprint to saving the world.

Learn more about Farming Carbon. You can also add your email address in the subscribe box in the sidebar to follow the developments on this film.