Oh Hair Yes!

I had the distinct pleasure to work with Brittaney Elise this weekend. She is the owner and designer of Be by Brittaney Elise and she and her team have just completed the first brick and mortar salon of Bellami Hair. Bellami is an L.A. based online hair extension shop who is now building super fun salons across the country where you can go in to purchase permanent or clip in extension and have then put in and styled for you. 

Brittaney chose a classic, graphic pallet of black, white, pink and gold. The simplicity was striking yet everywhere you turn is something beautiful to behold. The front of the shop is 99% white while and has floor to ceiling windows on the front wall so I had AMAZING natural light to work with. I don't think I used a flash for most of the shots in that part of the shop. What was even better was there was some dramatic light cast on one wall and softer more even light cast on the opposite wall so I could get shot of both for Brittaney for her to choose her preference. 

Nikki, the owner of Bellami Hair, showed up and between her and Brittany we basically had a full on fashion photo shoot. These girls were SO FUN and comfortable in front of the camera. They obviously love to have their picture taken which makes my job so easy and not awkward and I will love them forever for that.  

Working with three (including Brittaney's assistant, also named Nikki) hard working, creative, and vibrant women was killer. I loved every second of it. 

I used the Canon 6D, Canon 17-40mm and Canon 50mm 1.4. Hardly any flash. No reflectors. 

In editing I did no color correction other than make the pinks pop to their true pinkiness. I allowed many of the images to be overexposed slightly to keep the space looking bright and fresh which lost a little of that pale pink paint saturation. The main editing I did was in wide room shots I had to brighten up the back of the shop. I pushed blacks and brought highlights down quite a bit. 

Home Depot Patio Style Challenge with Chic Home Style

I had a really fun opportunity to take some photos for Chári Herndon, designer at Chic Home Style, of her apartment balcony. Chári was chosen by Home Depot to be one of 18 interior designers/design bloggers from all across the country to participate in the Home Depot Patio Style Challenge

 

The Home Depot Patio Style Challenge is a really cool promotional idea where Home Depot curates their blog (Yes Home Depot has a blog. Who knew?) with some of the best home decorators they can find nationwide. H. D. contacts these designers with the "challenge", this time was the patio but they've done Holiday in the past as well. The designers send in the measurements of their space and H. D. ships them patio furniture and accessories from the new line to fit their space FO FREE! Once the designers receive their product they decorate their patios, write a blog including photos and submit it to be posted on Home Depot's blog for the world to see. Pretty sweet deal, right? Now the consumer can go read blogs from professional decorators and top notch DIYers and see how they used Home Depot product to make their outdoor spaces look amazing.  

 

Chári is a really talented interior designer who's a recent transplant to Houston and she was so fun to work with. She needed professional photography for her blog submission and I was so excited to do this shoot when she contacted me.  Her Galleria apartment balcony is only around 60 square feet so I was a little concerned that there wouldn't be much space to work with. However, when I walked into her apartment she had every inch of her 1,117 square foot apartment perfectly and elegantly arranged and decorated. 1,117 sq ft is not big y'all! Chic Home Style specializes in decorating small spaces and is really good at it. 

I used the trusty Canon 6D with Canon f/1.4 and wide angle zoom f/4 lenses. We did one session around 10 am and then I came back around 7:30 pm and shot until dark, using longer exposures to show off the outdoor string lights and lantern. 

 

Due to the crazy storms up north a lot of the designers chosen for the patio style challenge didn't receive their product by the original deadline so even though we rescheduled once Chári was missing some throw pillows and lanterns when we did her photo shoot. She took some additional photos herself of the missing items when they arrived so some of those photos will be mixed in her blog submission along side the photos I took. Also, due to an exclusivity clause in the agreement with H. D. I could not use the same photos on my blog or website as the ones chosen for Chári's blog submission. Therefore there were more preferable compositions than some of these but you can see those on the H. D. blog!

 

To see Chári's blog and the photos I did for her on the Home Depot page click here

 

"Win The Skies" Album Shoot

My high school dream was to be a music photographer. To go on tour with, an at least somewhat famous, band, photograph their every move, have a press pass at all the venues, have my photos on album covers, fall in love with one of the cool, good looking, band members, we'd start our own side project, win a grammy and have a story written about us in Rolling Stone Magazine. You know the drill. 

Well I've done at least some of that but I did it a little backwards. I fell in love with a musician. Then I got to shoot his band's new photos and have one of those photos on the album cover. Me being his wife was NOT an "in" though. This is their third album but my first time doing their photos. Which actually made me more confident because that means they trusted me AND it wasn't even my husband that suggested I be the photographer. He's less interested in mixing business and romance than the 17 year old me. 

Anyhow, a few weeks ago I had the great pleasure of creating Mike Romero Music's new promo photos and album art! MRM had played an event at Tyler Street United Methodist Church, in Dallas, TX, several months back and the guys loved the building so much they decided that's where they had to have their next set of photos done. So, earlier in February Branden and Mike took me to the church to scout out the exact locations we wanted to shoot in. Tyler Street UMC was built starting in 1919 and stretching to the 1970's so there's a really cool hodgepodge of architecture. Spending most of my time now photographing architecture, my mind of racing with excited over getting to shoot there. We narrowed all of the potential spaces down to 5 and the last week in February we all traveled back to Dallas to do the shoot. 

MRM is a 501(c)3 certified non-profit ministry, they have a board of advisers who approve larger expenditures so I emailed a pitch to their board for review complete with "rough draft" photos I'd taken during the location scout. I was really glad I did this because it helped me organize my ideas for the day of the photo shoot. When you're traveling to a place you're not really familiar with, working with 5 guys who are coming straight from a weekend event, several wardrobe changes, lots of stairs, meanwhile Justin Minchew is making a video of everything that's happening, and you know you have to drive 4 hours back home at the end of the day...things can get hangry and inefficient real fast.  I also met with Mike between the location scout and the actual shoot to go over the pitch, explain my choices and hear from him what he was wanting out of these photos. What did he want them to say? What is the vibe of this project? How do we make sure these photos reflect the new songs?  So, ALWAYS do a location scout and get test or rough draft shots and ALWASY listen to you client to make sure you're capturing their voice.

In my photography pitch the locations I chose are called things like, "wooden stairwell", "white stairwell", "top floor gym". I chose these specific spots, though the options were countless, because I knew we'd get great shots easily out of these spaces. They had great natural light and interesting but not but not spotlight stealing architecture. When working with a group I was looking for quality + efficiency, not "this looks interesting, lets just see what happens, maybe we get something maybe we don't" It wasn't the time for a lot of experimenting. Though we did end up deciding to wait until sunset to get some more shots in the gym with moodier lighting. I'm really glad we did because the light was so much more interesting and I got to experiment a little bit. 

 

Apparently moody light makes Mike into a male model. 

 

I used, as always, a Canon 6D and switched between a Canon 50mm f/1.4 and a Canon 17-40mm f/4. 

 

The guys had some styling help from WhitFort

 

Mike Romero Music's new album is titled "Win The Skies" and will be released April 30th, 2017. You'll be able to download it on iTunes or I believe through their website. Cover art photo by me and text by Logan Samperi (who also built this awesome website for me). 

Mazel Tov!

Before February 2017 I had never attended a Jewish wedding no less photographed one but I had the pure blessing of doing so for Ashly and Asher Braunig. I have to tell you, I am still thinking about how beautiful and special I found the whole affaire. There is so much tradition in the Jewish culture and the wedding ceremony holds and is surrounded by many, many ceremonial rituals that each hold so much meaning. It's really amazing. 

 

The wedding consisted of about 40 people and was held at Ouisie's Table in River Oaks. Ashly and I met up a couple of months before the wedding so she could tell me what to expect from a Jewish ceremony (and that there would be no dancing at the reception so no Hora! [chair dance] No Hava Nagila! [chair dance song] MAJOR BUMMER). She was super sweet and down to earth, we hit it off right away.

 

One rule of Jewish weddings is that the bride and groom cannot be married before sunset and I knew the ceremony would be outdoors so I was a little anxious about shooting an outdoor ceremony in the dark. However it turned out really beautiful and the ceremony ended just before it was really dark. Though that meant the light was changing through out the entire ceremony so I had to keep changing camera settings and flash power which was a little nerve-wracking but I made it work!

 

By the end of the ceremony I was tearing up along with all of their closest family and friends, as if I'd known Ashly and Asher my whole life and I'd always been Jewish. It was that captivating y'all. 

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Ouisie's Table was a great venue for that size wedding. Their outdoor garden space was gorgeous, especially at sunset. 

Ashly and Asher were a DREAM to work with and I hope they have the best life together. 

Mike Romero Music In The Studio

This past August I was fortunate enough to spend a week in Nashville, TN with Mike Romero Music where they began recording their third studio album with producer Brent Milligan. 

The guys worked at the Brown Owl Studio and Milligan's home studio in the Brentwood neighborhood of Nashville. 

If you asked someone, who has wanted to be a photographer since they were a kid, what first made them want to be a photographer I bet you 90% would say wildlife pictures they saw in a book or magazine when they were young. That is completely true for me as well. I had a poster on my wall of a white tiger and everyday I would stare dreamily up at it as if looking at my future. Though white tiger portrait photography is still not a dream deserted so much as put on the back burner my second photography inspiration and dream job was music. 

I grew up surrounded by musicians in my family and as my friends and then I married one. The art and the artists have long been a major source of inspiration for me. Be it photographing a band live or shooting promotional material for an artist I just find it all super fun. But something that I've found I really enjoy is documenting the in studio writing and recording process. It's a really vulnerable and intimate time for the artist but it's also when a lot of the magic happens. I love getting to watch music be made. Being able to capture moments of someone creating something that might be really beautiful, that might move or speak to someone else who listens to that song in the near future is really special to me and I think it's special to the artist to have those moments in a photograph forever. 

Therefore if you are an artist that has studio time coming up and would like some killer photos, contact me! I'd love to work with you. A lot of artists end up using candid in studio shots for their album artwork (I.E. Ryan Adams: Easy Tiger...I'll think of more, just give me a minute)

If you are just a person who also enjoys music then all I can say is BUY MUSIC. Support the artists you love and respect.  

 

Here are just a handful of the 500+ shots I ended up with of Mike Romero Music in Nashville. There are a few more in the Music gallery of the site. 

Check out Mike Romero Music at www.mikeromeromusic.com 

Saige's First Birthday Party

I spent the weekend at my sister and brother in law's house in Midlothian, TX prepping and executing my niece's first birthday party. It went off without a hitch and Saige had and her older brother Jase had the time of their lives. She has to be the smiliest baby I've ever met so I knew I'd get some great photos of her at the party. I couldn't help myself! Turns out the slip 'n' slide is all Saige ever needs in life to be happy. She LOVED it. 

Campfire Christmas 2014

 

This exact time last year I was in the backseat of a Toyota Prius with my friends Brett and Hannah, playing 20 Questions while we sat still on probably 2 inches of ice covering I-10 somewhere between Fort Stockton and Ozona, TX. What follows is the story of our insane winter camping trip and some of the photos I took along the way.

My husband, Branden, and I just got back from a craazy trip to west Texas. We left December 27th with 4 friends, three guys and three girls, and the plan was to drive to Marfa that day, which is about 8ish hours from Houston, stay two nights there then head to Big Bend and stay 1-2 nights and then stay 1-2 nights in the Davis Mountains and head back home on New Year's Day. We knew it would be cold in Marfa so we made sure we were prepared. Branden had a good North Face sleeping bag and we borrowed another from a friend and thenmy parents got us each a Therm - a - Rest Trail Lite sleeping pad for Christmas, we had wool socks and warm jackets. Good to go, right?

The day the six of us got to Marfa it snowed, but we were pretty excited. We got there, set up our tents at El Cosmico and then went into town to find coffee and get warm. We went to Do Your Thing coffee shop which was incredibly Marfa. It was in a tiny tin building that I think I overheard was used to store lumber in a previous life. Anyhow, while we were there it began snowing and we of course ran outside to play in it. Also while there we met a young guy named Stephen. Stephen had just finished his undergrad in Phoenix, AZ and was cycling, as in riding his bicycle, from Tucson to Austin or maybe Louisiana! He was a super nice guy so we invited him to have dinner with us a hang out at the campground for a while. He told us he hadn't had a conversation with anyone in over a week before he met us. I couldn't imagine doing something like that by myself. He would just ride 60 to 80 miles a day and then just stop anywhere and sleep in a sleeping bag and a Bivy. On that particular night he was going to try either the fire station or a covered outdoor area where food trucks park. The next morning we woke up and found Stephen crawling out of his Bivy and into the snow near our tents haha. He took the polaroid of all of us.

 

It continued snowing that night and we woke up to probably an inch or two of snow the next morning. It melted quickly by the afternoon but I ran around taking pictures and freezing my hands off before it did. What was nice about El Cosmico was that the office/store/common area was open from 8am to 10pm and we were in there every minute we could be because it was warm and cozy and there was a super fluffy cat named Marmalade. She was the sweetest. Marfa was fun and weird and we were pretty much the only people camping in tents because it barely got above freezing the whole two days we were there but we were certain that that first night when it snowed was going to be the coldest for sure. We should have let waking up to frost the following morning tip us off that this trip was not ever going to get warmer. That was definitely my first time tent camping in snow and frost and it was cooooold. However I was quite impressed by our new Therm-a-Rest sleeping pads. Once we wiggled into our sleeping bags and waited to be warm and for sleep to somehow come I noticed how warm my back was against the sleeping pad. It almost felt like it was heated! It was also pretty comfortable too, I never felt like I was on the ground and it never lost air.

 

On the 29th we packed up and headed to Big Bend National Park. It was a little over a two hour drive from Marfa and I of course had to stop and pee on the side of the road. Typical. I seriously need to get a Pstyle (look it up). Before we got to Big Bend we stopped in Terlingua which is a sleepy but spunky little ghost town full of old stacked stone house ruins and just a few open businesses. We met a woman at the coffee shop (everyone I was with has to drink 5 cups of coffee a day while I cannot drink coffee because it makes me feel crazy) that told us if we were around for New Year's Eve we should find a local to take us to the fireworks in the mines....uuuhhhh whaaaa?? Terlingua used to be a booming mining town but the mines went dry and the town just dissipated. We were incredibly intrigued by this woman's description of upside down fireworks and all were in agreeance that we needed that in our lives and would find "a local".

 

After we left Terlingua and made it to Rio Grand Village campground where we should have had a spot booked for that night (Monday) and Tuesday night. There were no fires allowed in the park and we knew it would be chilly so we booked Tuesday and Wednesday nights in the Davis Mountains also incase we decided we wanted to go somewhere that we could have a campfire. We were calling this trip Campfire Christmas after all. Well we pull up to our spot and there are people in it...Brett, who booked the campsite, looked back at his confirmation email only to find that our arrival date was set for Tuesday the 30th...and there we were on the 29th... Sitting in that head space of, we just drove over 100 miles and now have no where to sleep, but without completely freaking out we went and found the Camp Host. My friend Neil jumped out of the car and we saw him talking to an older man. Neil came back to the car and told us that the Camp Host said the spots were full and there were no cancellations but if we could find someone willing to let us bum off of their spot for the night then that would be fine and as it turned out Neil had immediately found someone willing to let us do just that! Allen. Allen was around 70 years old, traveling alone, driving from Vermont to the west coast. He said he was planning on just sleeping in his car that night anyways so we were welcome to set up our tents there for the night. We fed him chili in return for his kindness and he told us scattered stories of his background teaching hiking and canoeing and "the woman he used to travel with". He was such a nice guy and is still such a mystery. He and Stephen both. You seriously meet the NICEST people when camping. In fact, right as we arrived in Big Bend the lady at the entrance booth told us our car smelled like something was burning really hot. We pulled off to the side and the guys began looking under the hood of the car when a couple pulled in and stopped to see if we needed help. This guy came over and immediately we were intimidated by his knowledge of cars and just everything in life. He decided it was the battery and lent us his jumper cables and said he and his wife were staying in the same campground if we needed anything else, they were site 19. We from then on called him Site 19 because we didn't get his name.

We were under the impression that it was going to be warmer in Big Bend but after we set up our tents and as we ate chili with Allen the air kept getting colder and colder. The next morning when we woke up there was ice on my backpack and Hannah had ice on her pillow. Needless to say it was another night of tossing and turning with cold toes and trying to ignore either my frozen face or the claustrophobic panic that ensued when I covered it with my sleeping bag for even a few seconds. We had to pack up early that morning because we had plans to hike the South Rim Loop Trail at Chisos Basin, which was rumored to take around 8 hours to complete and since we would be moving to our actual reserved campsite when we were done, we had to have everything out of Allen's site and in one of our cars before we left.

Chisos Basin, where our hike was to begin, was 23 miles from our campground. We got there and began our hike around 10:30am and finished by 5pm. We were pretty proud of ourselves for finishing in 6 hours. The South Rim Loop was 12.4 miles long, easily the longest hike I've ever done and it's up a mountain and back down with signs stating "Bear Country" and "Mountain Lions often sighted here" scattered along the way. The first few miles are the hardest too, all up hill. My mother in law got me a pair of North Face hiking boots for Christmas, thankfully, but this was my first time to wear them and by the last 3 miles my feet were literally killing me, but no blisters! The trail took us up to the north rim where we climbed up on the rocks on the very top to have our sandwiches and look out over the vally and the little village where we started. Also this is where I began having an anxiety attack (I guess) because I'm apparently a lot more afraid of heights than I realized. I don't think the others (except Branden who was trying to very sweetly keep me calm) noticed I was looking backwards towards where we had just climbed up from, where the ground was much closer, and fighting sobbs. I kept it together enough to get a picture of the two of us but then it took me a couple of miles to fully calm down. So weird.

 

We hiked across the mountain to the south rim which instantly reminded me why I was doing this to myself.  It was a view that still takes my breath away just looking at the pictures now. How could this be Texas we kept saying! Though part of that view was Mexico too.

 

We passed backpackers along the way who were hiking to their campsites on the mountain. The weather that afternoon was mostly pretty chilly and got warm when hiking in the sun. Once we finished our hike and thought we couldn't walk another step it started getting colder and colder. While we were still hiking we could see clouds that looked like they were pouring in through the mountains and we thought, wow look at that, how cool! Then when we finished and piled in the car we could see the clouds literally gushing in through the mountains, I've never seen clouds move like that, and as we drove out of Chisos Basin the air became so thick with fog we could barely see 10 feet in front of us. We made our way cautiously around the curves of the road, missed hitting a shaggy buck crossing the road by like a foot, and watched the temperature drop from 43 to 34 in like 5 minutes. The sky was all of the sudden a thick dark grey and the wind was blowing so hard! We were thankful to be in the car but could not believe what was happening. It was insane. Once we got a little further across the park we could see a thin line of light under the dark grey, which was where our campground was. This made us optimistic about the weather at our campsite. We had to be optimistic because we were cold and exhausted and hungry and we still had to set up our tents and all of our stuff and were not going to accept doing all of that in 34 degrees and wind. This was supposed to be warmer than Marfa! And we just finished a long hike! We were supposed to be able to go back to our campsite and relax and revel in our accomplishment! We didn't get any of that. We got to our campsite and it was about 40 degrees with like 20 mph winds. We struggled to set up our tents and sort out all of our stuff in the frigid wind before dark and everything is painfully tedious when you can't feel your fingers.  Finished as quickly as we could and then all piled in the car and headed back to Terlingua with cheeseburgers in our eyes, but all the while thinking about those people we passed on the trail who were hiking to their camping spots and how they're probably all dead by now. Mountain Lion popsicles.

Though Terlingua is a "ghost town" don't think for a second that the Starlight Theater is not going to be packed and have a waitlist on a Tuesday night. You know those scenes in old western movies where the cowboy has traveled miles and miles across the desert and finally rolls into a seemingly deserted town, all dusty and bedraggled and swings open the doors to a saloon from where bursts upbeat piano music and a woman singing and people bustling about and talking a laughing? That is exactly what walking into the Starlight Theater was like. We were bedraggled, and it was bursting with life. While we waited for a table we watched a live jazz band made up of a random collection of characters. I have no idea how these people got together. A man that was at least 200 years old shredded on an electric guitar like it was more natural than breathing. A woman with 6 different hair colors played the upright bass while facing backwards and wearing sunglasses. A female asian drummer whom I'm now convinced was Lane Kim, and a few other incredibly talented weirdos. It was awesome. A local art shop owner whom we'd met the day before and began calling Sam Rich because we couldn't remember his name, came over and chatted with us. We asked him about the fireworks in the mines and he said he'd never heard of that before but it sounds like a bad idea because there are gasses down there. Apparently they used to mine mercury or something haha. We abandoned that idea.  Long story short, Starlight Theater was an amazing oasis in the desert and I will forever love it. The food  was great, we all had cheeseburgers and drinks and sat in the warm room wondering if they'd let us sleep there.

 

This was Tuesday the day before New Years Eve and we had decided not to go to the Davis Mountains after all but we had all secretly hit our limit of sleeping in the cold. Brett timidly threw out the idea of leaving a day early....inside we were all like ugh no we can't give up...but then he put forth the idea of staying New Years Eve night at his parents house in Boerne where there were warm beds and a fireplace and a hot tub and food and warm indoor showers and walls and a roof and it was only 6 hours away. It sounded like Heaven. We all just burst YES GIVE ME ALL OF THAT RIGHT NOW! We became giddy school girls at the thought of just getting through the night and then getting to Brett's parents house. The next morning we woke up and attempted to make breakfast in the freezing wind. A 2 hour ordeal. Then we packed up and hit the road. We had a 400 mile drive ahead of us which should have taken around 6 hours. We had very scarce cell phone reception the whole time so we briefly checked the weather and had it in our heads that it would get warmer the further east we went.

As we were driving through the park the landscape started getting frosty. It was pretty so we stopped to take pictures. Naive little idiots.

 

It kept getting frostier and frostier until everything was covered in ice. Then the road was covered in ice but still we thought it wouldn't last long and the weather would clear up soon. If we can just get through Ozona, we said. The entire drive became a complete nightmare, I can't even. It took us over 11 hours to get to Boerne. We were driving half the speed limit the whole way, 40mph and under. The roads were ice for all 400 miles. We saw multiple cars slide into the ditch (cars that were speeding past us mind you). We got stuck in stand still traffic for 2 hours on I 10 because of a wreck or something and then further ahead we bypassed a 30 car pile up by creeping along a very hilly and icey back road. We got to Brett's parents beautiful toasty house after 11pm where they had pizza waiting for us God bless 'em. We devoured three pizzas and then drank champagne in the hot tub like a rap video...minus all the glamour and the rap music. It was the trip of a lifetime. I saw and experienced a lot of crazy things and was miserable for a good 40% of it but also experienced a lot of amazing things, a lot of super nice and interesting people, and laughed really hard with good friends. Here's to the next Campfire Christmas...which we will do at a completely different time of year.

About S.R. Montgomery

Hello Friends and welcome. I want to get off to an honest start with you and tell you that I am a TERRIBLE blogger. I'm truly awful at it, no consistency whatsoever. But I'm going to try very hard with this blog and it's mostly to showcase my photos anyway so I believe I can do it. You don't want to hear me ramble on about myself all of the time anyhow. However, I am going to ramble for just a minute. Just for introductions sake. 

My name is Savannah, I'm 26 years old and two years ago I traded in my previously very German last name for a more English yet very southern sounding last name when I married Branden Montgomery. We live in Houston, TX and though I was very skeptical when I moved here from Austin, I really love it. We have a cat named Maeby. She's the best and we love her a lot. I'm fairly introverted. I love camping. I love clothes. I love traveling. I love tv. I love reading. I love walking. I love friends. I was blessed with a great family. I love a lot of things. No, I would not only do photography if I could do anything in the world. I don't find my identity in it but I love it and it works for me for now. I believe I was made in the image of my creator and therefore made to be creative, to live life and to love people. I'm working on becoming better at those things everyday. 

Below are some of my favorite pictures of us. 

 

Thanks for joining me!

- Savannah Rose Montgomery