Surprise Marriage Proposal

I have the most fun job! Honestly. This fellow emailed me some weeks back about photographing he and his girlfriend as he proposed marriage to her. Wow! I wondered if he was sure she’d say yes and he was pretty confident. He bought a beautiful ring.

They live on the east coast and planned a summer vacation/road trip in Washington. They love the mountains and exploring National Parks. She is a science teacher and he is a meteorologist. They were starting with the Cascade Loop and he had selected the Washington Pass Overlook for the proposal.

On the appointed day, he texted me when they were leaving and let me know what he’d be wearing. I got to the pass ahead of them and placed myself and my dogs in the spot we had chosen. I had the dogs sit where I wanted the couple to stand and when I saw them approaching from the lower trail I made a comment something like – oh the view is best over there and I called my dogs to me. She went to take some pictures and he approached her with the ring behind his back. And of course, she said yes! Mother Nature smiled on them with perfect blue skies and a warm but not hot temperature. It was a good day.

Thunder, Lightning and a Wedding

It was a Thursday in July and I was scheduled to photograph a wedding near Winthrop. I tried to look at the weather as I was heading out the door to Sun Mountain Lodge but the app wasn’t working. I had a feeling that there was a change happening and sure enough, as I arrived at the lodge, there was a large rolling thunder clap. However, it wasn’t raining.

Meg and Chris, the bride and groom who live in London, had planned a small intimate wedding with just ten guests and no attendants. Meg grew up in Seattle and spent many vacations at Sun Mountain and exploring the Methow Valley. They told me the wedding would be casual and fun. Sure enough, that was the case. They had chosen their clothes without letting the other one know what to expect. Most everything was non-traditional. The guests included their immediate families and one other couple.

We were able to do some photos, including a first look before the ceremony. During the vows, thunder and lightning interrupted occasionally along with a few scattered raindrops. After the ceremony I whisked the couple away for portraits before the rain really arrived. Family pictures had to be done on the covered part of the terrace and steps. Meg and Chris welcomed the rain. London is going through a long dry spell and they understand the importance of some summer moisture. It all turned out lovely and the cooler temperature was a welcome change. The thermometers have been registering well into the 90’s (Fahrenheit) recently.

‘They’ say that rain on your wedding day is lucky. I should know. It rained on my wedding day!

Here’s to Meg and Chris and their marriage. I wish you many adventures in life and in love.

Thank you for including me on your special day. I thoroughly enjoyed your wedding and creating your wedding photography.

Making Connections

The Methow Valley Independent Learning Center (ILC), our local school district’s Big Picture High School, recognizes the importance of connecting students with adults in the community who want to influence youth in positive ways through their mentorship program. Sometimes that means an adult has a specialized skill which they teach to a student who is interested in that subject area.

At the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, sophomore Jed McMillan showed an interest in photography after using the school’s camera as part of an exploratory class at the ILC. Kelleigh McMillan (no relation), the ILC Mentorship Coordinator, thought of me, a local wedding and fine art photographer. Kelleigh reached out to see if I would be interested in working with Jed to increase his photography knowledge by working with him once a week at the school; I said yes.

Each Tuesday beginning in the fall, Jed and I met at the ILC on the TwispWorks campus and walked around Twisp, making images and talking about different techniques he could use to capture subjects such as dogs, old cars, tools, and horses. On some weekends, he took the camera home to make photos on his own time. The following week, we would download his images onto a school computer, talk about what worked, what didn’t and why. Jed is a quick learner and enjoys the opportunity to talk about the finer points of the art. Something awakened in Jed and he began taking photos and seeing in a whole new way, his artist self emerging.

After Christmas Break, I asked Jed what he wanted to do next with his photography and he said he would like to have a show. Over the winter and Spring months, with support from the school staff, we discussed how to achieve that goal and created a plan. Jed learned the many steps involved in creating and hanging an art show.

The newly relocated La Fonda Lopez, a restaurant in Twisp, agreed to show his photographs on their one empty wall. The Confluence Gallery in Twisp donated frames for his work. I cut the mats and helped get the photos printed. The Public School Funding Alliance contributed to the printing of the photographs through a ‘personal projects’ grant for the ILC students.

Jed spent many hours working through the various tasks associated with having an art show: creating a budget, choosing dates, determining names for his photos, cleaning glass, making a poster, etc.

At long last, the show, Behind the Barn, went up on May 1, at La Fonda Lopez, 102 Methow Valley Highway in Twisp, where it will hang until the end of June.

I hope you have the opportunity to see the work of this young man who states:

“When I’m taking pictures, I feel connected with the world.”

Photos of the horse, the old truck and the autumn leaves are by Jedediah McMillan. Photos of Jed and the show are by Teri J Pieper

Making Sawdust

What’s your art medium? Paint? Paper? Photography? Music? Stone? Theater?

Here in the Methow Valley, there are many artists creating art in any number of mediums. We are supported by our community and by Methow Arts and by other artists. It is one of the reasons people come here to live.

Each quarter, Methow Arts prepares a printed magazine highlighting the arts in our region and also drawing attention to a featured artist. I have been selected to photograph some of these artists in years’ past and was delighted when they asked me to photograph my friend Don McIvor for the Spring issue.

Don works with wood. His turned pieces can be found at The Winthrop Gallery and through his website. Besides turning wood, he creates cabinets and furniture; he has made a marimba for his wife Mary McIvor and a sink for their newly remodeled bathroom, in addition to countless other projects. His petroglyph pieces are particularly striking. The Methow Arts profile can be seen here.

Here are a few of my favorite photos.

Doggie Dash 2018

Methow Trails hosted the Doggie Dash at the Town Trailhead in Winthrop on Sunday and despite cold temps and a bitterly cold wind, many people and dogs showed up to participate and to watch one of winter’s most fun events in the Methow. The Doggie Dash is a six-legged race with people on skis connected to their dogs with a leash or rope. It is also a costume contest. There were three different races – the kids’ race, the adults with little dogs race and the adults with big dogs. There were enough big dogs for two heats. Afterwards judges awarded prizes for the costume contest including the much coveted Golden Poodle. And at the end there was a drawing for a season pass to Methow Trails for next winter. Roman Toga guy was very excited to take that away with him.

Some of the sponsors included Rocking Horse Bakery, Winthrop Veterinary Clinic, the Methow Valley Ciderhouse and of course, Methow Trails. Thanks to all of them and the volunteers that make this event so much fun!