• Jessie Hardy

snowball fights + cold brews

Updated: Mar 27, 2019

When we began planning this shoot, Kaitlin had a ton of cool places picked out. I mean- she found pine trees in Eastern MT (so freaking hard to do). I was super stoked because as everyone knows, I am obsessed with evergreens. Taking photos in Eastern MT has been a challenge for me. I don't have mountains, I don't have cute little brooks flowing through mountain meadows, no spruce trees to give the photos some color and texture. You've got plains. And more plains. And maybe some trees here and there, but in the winter (soooo, 8 months out of the year?) those trees are dead and NOT cute. Kaitlin was on her game though, and found me some pine trees. WELL, because we are in the middle of the winter from hell, it snowed and snowed, and then snowed some more the days leading up to our photo shoot. The places Kaitlin had picked out for us were no longer accessible, not even by snow mobile. There was just too much damn snow. This obviously narrowed down the places we could shoot, but we were still optimistic because, hey, Kaitlin and Kevin are in love, I am down for ANYTHING, plus I had just left my two babes (one and three years old) with the hubby in Glasgow, so I was ready to party.

I met up with these two on Kevin's parents farm about 15 miles north of Nashua, MT. This was my first time meeting these two and I felt super comfortable within the first five minutes of chatting with them- super laid back, easy going, fun cattle ranchers. We all three (me on the way back) jumped onto the snow mobile to meander the country side to find good lighting to start the shoot off with. At this point, it was about 3:30 and the sun was still super high and bright. We found a little even shade and made our way there on the snow mobile- yes, I was hard core "third wheeling" it with my arms around Kaitlin, holding on for dear life. After taking some shots, we decide to explore by pickup instead. Did I mention it was ZERO degrees outside?

After driving and small talking for 15 minutes or so, we found our way to a neighbor's yard who has a good contrast of pine trees (hell yes) and snow covered prairies. They had talked to the neighbor to make sure it was okay that we use his yard for pictures, and of course he said yes (If you're not from Montana, this is very common. People here are sweet and genuine and basically just amaze balls). We mentally prepared ourselves for the temperature, climbed out of the pickup, and ran over to the snowy fields. Not understanding just how deep the snow was, we stomped, sinking deeper and deeper, until we were high-thigh deep in snow. I couldn't move and couldn't stop laughing, Kevin was carrying Kaitlin (she was still in a dress at this point) and we spent about three minutes taking pictures. They were getting a pretty hysterical show of me trying to maneuver around the 3 feet of snow, while falling down, as well as attempting to take their pictures and act as if I am somewhat coordinated.

After all of the falling, and stomping, and falling some more, it was time for a beer. I have to say, these two have impeccable taste in craft beer. Kaitlin changed into jeans, we went over to some snow that was only 1.5 feet instead of 3, grabbed a blanket and cracked open a couple of Jeremiah Johnson Blonde ales. And when I say "we", I mean "them", ( I enjoyed my beer later in the warmth of the pickup). They cheers'ed, took a drink, and tried warming each other up, while I circled them like a shark and took SO many pictures in the matter of about 10 minutes, if that. During super cold winter shoots, I take EVEN MORE photos than I do during perfect, summer evenings because I am in a sort of frozen/panic mode trying to go as fast as I can so we can get warm again. When our teeth started chattering, we decided it was time for their third outfit and to go to our third location, mainly because by this time it was probably -10 with the sun trying to set, and my poor fingers stopped being able to press the shutter and needed some pickup heater action.

As we drove back towards Nashua, we talked logistics. What they were going to do, what they were going to wear, how long our goal time was to be outside (ten minutes max). We parked, ran to the hillside, and had a VERY quick snowball fight (I can't believe they didn't laugh in my face, call me a psycho, and refuse. I would have). At this point they were ridiculously cold and had the idea to wear their coyote gear. Yes, I wrote that correctly. They had a hat and mittens that were legitimately made from an Eastern Montana coyote. I had to take extra pictures to show Greg, my hubby, because he is obsessed with coyote hunting and goes out in unheard of temperatures do this. That is freaking dedication. After I got some snaps of them in their coyote gear, we were done with this sub zero photo shoot and were soaking wet. We sat in the pickup and talked about wedding planning, high school athletics, and mutual friends while sipping on some left over beer from the shoot. I was letting my Jeep warm up and avoiding going to the High School Boys Basketball Divisional tourney where my family was. My jeans were wet and shoes were frozen with snow, so the last place I wanted to be was sitting in a gym, trying to entertain a one and three year old while also attempting to watch basketball. After about 45 minutes, I finally, painfully, regretfully, left the warm pickup and headed into the basketball games (I only made it about half an hour before loading up my little boys to head back to Scobey). I am pretty dang excited for this wedding and can't wait to hang with these two humans when it's NOT below zero!

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