The Stories Behind The Pictures

Per customer requests, we are adding a page to the website where we share the stories behind the pictures. These stories get shared many times during art shows or one-on-one conversations, and we've been asked on more than one occasion to share them in writing. So, although not typical for a photography website, we're going to give it a go here and see if our customers approve. No doubt, the pictures mean a lot to us as we were there and we know the story, and we hope that knowing the stories behind the pictures make them even more valuable to you, our customer. We intend to post a picture and related story on a regular basis, and we will also be sharing them on the 3H Photography Facebook page as well. As always, we'd love to hear your comments and feedback, so please contact us through the Guest Book or Contact pages.

"The Majestic Call of Fall"
This photo was taken in Rocky Mountain National Park. At the tail end of the rut this bull was still taking on challengers although he was fairly exhausted. It was late evening when we spotted him coming across a meadow to take on two would be challengers. While he met them on our side of the meadow and was ready for a fight, neither of them took him up on the offer. There is nothing like the sound, well except the howl of the wolf, of the bull elk’s majestic bugle bouncing off the forest walls.

"Tool of the Trade"
This photo represents one of our early signed & numbered limited edition photos. The photo was taken in August 2011 outside Douglas, Wyoming. It was a beautiful summer afternoon, and I was on my way back from a conference in Gillette, Wyoming. I have always had an affinity for old windmills and barns, so I was on the lookout specifically for an old windmill. This one fit the bill, and it is far more interesting as a black and white image. I’m always careful not to trespass, so I needed some zoom to capture the photo with the windmill as the centerpiece.
This photo became the image on the front of our business cards, and we receive many comments about what it says to people.

"Hiding in Plain Sight"
This photo is one of what is becoming a collection of hidden animal pictures that I have taken. Taken in November 2013 during a week-long family vacation with friends in the Grand Tetons, this picture represents what is so awesome about nature and God’s plan to offer animals some camouflage protection. My buddy Chace (the best pound-for-pound big game hunter you’ll ever meet) and I were out scouting for bald eagles and mountain goats to photograph when he accidently spotted this goat. We were actually leaving the spot we were in when Chace kept staring backwards – as we were driving – and he spotted him barely moving. He’s a little easier to see in this picture than he was in person (just imagine an entire mountainside with this goat blending-in). Great times with family and friends – this photography gig isn’t too bad!

"Moulton Barn At Mormon Row"
What a great surprise this “accidental” photo has become! Stacie, Hayden and I were out on a tour with our great friend “in the hole” Greg Falk of Upstream Anglers when we stopped near Mormon Row outside Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We had stopped because Stacie had received a phone call from the young lady that was watching our dog back home, and apparently we had a water/sprinkler problem happening. As Stacie talked on the phone, Greg, Hayden and I ate candy bars and told stories. While I was listening-in on the phone call back home, Greg took a photo of Hayden from close to this vantage point. Hayden suggested that I take some photos, and I once again explained the “golden hour” rule for landscape/scenic photography. He said “who cares, it’s beautiful” and I picked-up my camera for a look. The Tetons are beautiful at any time, but he was right – it was beautiful. The clouds helped-out some, and after several different angles and camera settings, this is what I came up with. After shooting 7 or 8 pictures, I put the camera down and got on the phone with the water company. I didn’t think much about the photos I had taken at Mormon Row until we got home from the trip and I was reviewing photos from the shoot. I was so focused on reviewing the photos from the hour we spent with grizzly twins earlier on the trip, that the scenic photos I took (about 260) were almost an afterthought. When I came across this photo, I immediately knew it had to be a limited edition. The majestic Tetons stand so bold behind one of the most famous barns in the world, and the photo offers a wide array of colors. No doubt National Geographic won’t accept this one because it’s outside the “golden hour,” but our customers sure seem to appreciate it. It was another great photo trip that netted us some great memories, a lot of laughs, and some great photos to share with our fans. Oh, by the way, the young lady that was watching our dog had her parents/our friends come shut-off the outside water and all was well. Hope you enjoy!

"06 Headed To The Den"
This is one of the limited edition photos we have to offer from an amazing morning we spent with Yellowstone’s Lamar Canyon Wolf Pack back in 2012. This is also a very special photo as it is of a very unique and quite famous Yellowstone Wolf – 832F to researchers and ’06 (for the year she was born) to all of her fans. The story behind the picture first, and then the story about ‘06 the female alpha wolf in a separate article. I believe this story is worth the read…………

Stacie, Hayden and I were on a family vacation with our Italian family/best friends (Chace, Ali & Alina Tavelli). We’d already rafted the Wind River Rapids outside Thermopolis and found a grizzly bear, elk, river otters, bison and even a beaver in Yellowstone when we decided to turn our efforts to finding Yellowstone wolves. Chace had attended the wolf school in Yellowstone several years earlier, so he had a pretty good idea of what we needed to do to be successful. We had also spent the previous day in Lamar Valley glassing and talking to the wolf biologists, so when Chace said we needed to be back in the valley at sunrise the next morning we agreed. Since we were staying in Gardner, Montana (right outside the North gate), that meant getting up (and getting the kids up) at 3:30 in the morning for the drive to Lamar Valley. As painful as that was, we managed to get to the valley as the sun was coming up, and Chace and I set-up where we thought we had the best view while the girls and kids drove further down the road. Even on July 30th, mornings are a little chilly in Yellowstone! While we glassed the mist-filled valley, we watched a lone bison make his way towards us and I took the opportunity to take some beautiful sunrise photos. As Chace and I had our age-old hunting discussion of “we need to be patient” and “it’s early, give it time,” the girls showed-up and told us we needed to get in the pickup and go with them. I piled into the truck with a fully extended tripod with camera attached, and they excitedly told us they had seen the wolves running through the valley. We happened upon two of the younger wolves running in the direction we had just come from, so after several pictures we turned around and headed back. Within several minutes we found the pack right after the alpha wolf (’06) had just taken down a cow elk in the river – man, the adrenaline! The “kill” was in the river near a thicket of trees, so once we figured out what we were watching, I got set-up with my 500mm lens and starting shooting. Unbelievable – we were the only ones there watching this! As ’06 rested in the shaded timber (we later learned from a wolf biologist that she had been slightly injured during the hunt) we watched and photographed the feeding ritual of the pack. There is no doubt that there is order and respect in a wolf pack, and we watched it unfold before our eyes over the next 5 hours and 800 photos. Of course a lot of tourists stopped to watch over that time, but nobody had a better seat than we did. The description of everything we saw would make this article 5 times longer than it already is, but as the biologist told us “you’ve just had a once in a lifetime experience that few people get to have.” ’06 actually fed last, which is rare, and this photo shows her on the way to the den that the biologists said was not too far from the kill site.

Unfortunately, ’06 was legally killed by a hunter outside the park 100 days after we had this experience. She was without a doubt the most famous wolf in the world and the most researched wolf in the park, and she actually had taken her pack outside of the park in search of food.

While the wolf debate rages on in Wyoming, I feel fortunate to have had the experience and to have photos of her and her pack to share with others. We currently have 7 limited edition photos available from this shoot, and we’ve even put them together in a framed & matted collage (it was big) for a customer. We also have several Lamar Valley scenic limited editions from this shoot as well.

Hopefully the story was worth the read, and without a doubt, once we start our blog we will have lots of opinions to share on the hotly debated wolf issue. NatGeo has aired a documentary about the life of '06 and it is called "She Wolf."

"Bugling Herd Bull"
One of my all-time favorites and one of our top selling wildlife photos. If you’ve never heard the bugle of a bull elk, you must get into the wilderness during the elk rut (typically September) and experience it. As a big game hunter, I’ve had the pleasure of spending a great deal of time with elk in their environment on their terms, and my transition into a wildlife photographer has given me even more opportunity and a greater appreciation for these majestic animals. Without question, my years of hunting have given me an edge as a photographer, and that experience got me in front of this herd bull at the right time. This picture was taken several years ago during the rut, and we were fortunate enough to spend over three hours with this bull and his herd. Patience is key, whether hunting with a bow, rifle or camera, and respecting the wildlife and their “turf” is rule number one. We found this elk herd while they were bedded down in the timber, and during the first several hours the bull would get up anytime he sensed danger (a challenging bull hoping to steal a few of the gals from this big guy’s herd) bugle/scream several times, and even run off the challenger if he could be seen. During the final hour we spent with the herd, the cows were feeding and this guy got himself quite worked-up. He would bugle, throw his head around, dig-up some ground with his antlers, and then herd his cows. On several occasions, a challenging “satellite” bull would get too close, and he would go after him looking for a fight. While we didn’t witness any duels between bulls (the challengers knew better), we were provided with numerous photo opportunities. I’ve had customers tell me that they can almost hear the bull’s bugle coming out of this picture, and I can attest that the scream was both awesome and earsplitting. We have four limited edition photos of this awesome herd bull, all depicting the beauty of the animal and the environment they live in. As I’ve said a thousand times, “There’s nothing like the sound of the bull elk’s majestic bugle, well, except the howl of the wolf, bouncing off the forest walls.”

"Sunday Afternoon Stretch"
This is one of my favorite pictures! This was one rogue cow elk, and she was committed to doing whatever she wanted irregardless of what the herd bull wanted her to do. This photo was taken in October 2011 in Rocky Mountain National Park during a family trip to photograph elk during the rut. This is always challenging for our family as we are archery hunters, but we take a weekend during archery season and go on a photo shoot. While we were waiting out the herd bull for a photo op, he was herding-up his cows and running-off challengers. This cow wasn’t interested in being herded, so she walks right in front of us and stops at this tree. The bull came over to get her and that is when she started putting her head in the tree and messing around. About two minutes after this shot, a challenger came across the meadow, and this rogue cow quit ignoring the bull and joined the herd.

"Taking A Walk In The Flowers"
An August 2014 shoot in Grand Teton National Park afforded us the opportunity to run across one of the park’s famous residents. Jim Bear (#760) is (was) the grizzly offspring of famed mother #610 and grandmother #399. It was a rainy afternoon and we were headed north on the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway on our way into Yellowstone when we spotted a grizzly coming into a meadow. Now, the day before (another rainy day) we were doing the exact same thing and we had spotted a grizzly in the meadow, so we were on high alert looking for him again. At the time we didn’t know that it was #760, but knowing the story of camera friendly #610 and her offspring, we knew there was a chance it may be him and he may still be around. The first day I photographed him it was almost too rainy and he was almost out of reach of my 500mm lens, but on this day we had two strokes of luck: He walked directly towards us; and, the rain subsided just enough to not be overstressed about getting the equipment soaked as I waited for him. Fortunately, a park ranger (as well as a good number of tourists) showed-up and confirmed that indeed this was Jim Bear. I spent a great amount of time standing in the rain photographing this beautiful bear as he dug-up roots, rolled logs over and sniffed the air. Without question, this is when the investment in quality equipment pays-off as these photos required a lot of lens, good glass, and a fast camera (bears spend a lot of time with the nose in the ground). As with the famous Lamar Canyon Pack Alpha Wolf ’06, I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to photograph this famous bear. Unfortunately, Jim Bear was killed by Wyoming Game & Fish officials in November 2014 (86 days after this shoot). There is a great amount of skepticism surrounding the killing of Jim Bear, and numerous petitions have been organized demanding answers from the WGFD. To read an extensive story about Jim Bear’s famous family visit:

"Summertime Fun"
This photo of two of Grand Teton’s famous grizzly #399’s triplets was taken in June 2013 near the dam at Oxbow Bend in Grand Teton National Park. We were out with our great friend, Greg Falk with Upstream Anglers and Outdoor Adventures, when we found these two out digging-up roots in the chilly morning air. We watched them for over 10 minutes while I fired away with the camera, and Greg recognized Tom Mangelsen (yep, the master wildlife photographer that happens to live in Jackson) walking up with his gear. As Greg gave Mr. Mangelsen a hard time about us finding the bears for him (I was happy to learn that Greg knows Mr. Mangelsen), I couldn’t believe I was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the legendary nature and wildlife photographer taking pictures of grizzlies! The bears disappeared into the bushes headed towards the river, so we decided to drive over to the dam to see if we could see them come out near the river. This can be risky business as the bushes (huckleberry, I believe) are at least six feet tall, so you wouldn’t see the bear(s) until they were on top of you. Hayden stayed with Greg while Stacie and I hiked east along the river looking and listening. With one hand on the bear spray and the other holding my tripod on my shoulder, we slowly walked to an area that was completely surrounded by the river and bushes before we turned around. We slowly walked back towards the dam with our heads on a swivel, and as we stopped for a look these two popped-out into this opening and started playing. Fortunately, they had no idea we were standing there, but unfortunately they only stayed in the opening for several minutes. The adrenaline of two grizzlies being 75 yards from you can slightly impact your ability to take photographs! As they disappeared again, we quickly walked back to the Suburban, and we headed back the way we came from. As we meandered down the road, I had the opportunity to capture one of the bears sticking his head out of the bushes (another limited edition) and the other bear walking between bushes (another limited edition). We drove to the road where the bears would likely cross, and by now there were bumper to bumper parked cars of tourists hoping to see a bear. While Greg hopped into action by helping the park rangers get people to stay in their cars (those bushes I was telling you about are right up to the edge of the road in spots), we stayed in the truck and got some shots of them crossing the road and sitting in the road. Just another great day in the Tetons, and another experience to be grateful for.

"Famous More Barn in Steamboat Springs" - This picture has become one of our Top 5 sellers which in some ways is not surprising as it is the iconic More Barn in Steamboat Springs. We were spending New Years in Steamboat in 2012 when I went out on a photo shoot with a great lady from the Mangelsen Gallery. I know my way around Steamboat fairly well, but it was great to go out on a shoot with a local who knew of some of the “secret” places. It was New Year’s Eve and it was absolutely freezing (around 10 degrees) when we headed-out around 1pm. We found some ice climbers and some wildlife, and of course it snowed for most of the afternoon. I had told her that one of the primary items on my list was the famous Steamboat barn, but that I knew that it was on private property. She let me know that it wasn’t going to be a problem and that we should probably take advantage of the window of sun we were enjoying in order to get the picture I wanted. While I shot around 400 photos that afternoon, this is definitely the best of the bunch! I was fortunate to find an angle that didn’t have any disturbed snow, and if you look really close you can see the ice crystals in the snow. I took the photo “straight-up—no filters” on purpose in order to capture exactly what I was seeing through the viewfinder. The temperature was –5 degrees when we were shooting the barn, so thank God for the tripod and release, or all of my photos would’ve been blurry due to camera shake! It was a great afternoon with some great outcomes as we have 3 limited editions and a number of open editions that came from this shoot. We have printed this photo numerous ways (paper, canvas, Duraplaq) and in numerous sizes, and we consistently have customers mistake it for a painting—and that always makes me feel good.

"Majestic Multnomah Falls"
This is one of our newer limited editions as it was taken in April 2015. Multnomah Falls is outside Portland, Oregon, and although there are signs along the interstate letting you know that you’re almost to the falls, you really have to pay attention because the “exit” into the “parking lot for the falls” is on the left. The falls are actually right next to the interstate, so you park and then go through a tunnel under the interstate to get to the landing area of the falls. What a beautiful gem that is viewable to every motorist driving by! This vantage point struck me as the most inspiring, but you can walk across the bridge in the photo and actually be between the falls. The spray from the falls is so heavy that anyone with a camera really needs to be careful getting too close – and, in my opinion, the beauty is in viewing the entire falls. Oregon and Washington (well the parts I visited anyway) are lush and green, but all the rain that keeps it that way may keep me from ever living there. I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to visit and photograph stunning locations such as Multnomah Falls, and it is my hope that my photos make you want to visit or remind you of a previous visit.

"Steamboat Springs Serenity"
This photo actually represents the “first” photo I took once I had determined that I was going to follow this path. The photo was taken in March 2010 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. It later (October 2011) was determined that this photo should become a 3H signed & numbered limited edition based on its uniqueness and appeal to others. We were actually in Steamboat Springs for a family winter “rest & relax” getaway when Stacie, Hayden, and I were out wandering around and I had my camera. Steamboat is known for its skiing, but there are many photographic opportunities for those that are looking. I was basically standing in the river to take this photo because I wanted to capture as much of the bridge as possible. One of our great customers that spends a lot of time in Steamboat said he'd never seen this view before.......and then he purchased it.....very cool!

"Vintage Teton Loading Corral"
“Vintage Teton Loading Corral” is one of our very popular scenic limited editions. Taken from Mormon Row outside Jackson, Wyoming on a freezing February day in 2013, this black & white image depicts much of the Teton Range. We were on a winter photo shoot in Grand Teton National Park, and I was committed to getting some unique winter photos of the Grand Teton. The road out to Mormon Row was closed due to giant drifts of snow, so there was only one option: Hike! We had snowshoes with us, but the “road” wasn’t that bad to walk on, so we opted to skip the snowshoes. Hayden wasn’t too excited about the proposition of a 2 – 2 ½ mile hike in the freezing weather, but Stacie was all for it, so we made our way to the Mormon Row barns. Once we got to the barns, we found out just how deep the snow was. I, with backpack on and camera/tripod over my shoulder, attempted to get to a better vantage point and sunk into the snow up to my waist. Quite a sight no doubt, and it certainly changed Hayden’s mood. After digging out of the drift with some help, I got myself together and started putting some pictures together. As I’ve come to appreciate, you never set-up and take the perfect picture, but rather you work into it by taking in your surroundings and trying different set-ups. I knew this was a photo that I wanted to take, but I needed the correct angle and I needed the clouds to cooperate. As Hayden became bored and started throwing snowballs at his Mom, I got this image figured out and snapped away. I love this image, and I have to say it looks even better when it’s matted and framed in a barn wood frame! I am grateful that my customers appreciate this black & white image as much as I do.