It’s important to photograph your family. Easily said, but hard to do given the busy lifestyles of today’s modern families. Kids grow up fast and change even faster. Before you know it, they’re off to college. I know this first hand. Being a photographer, I understand the importance of documenting family, but it’s tough to be on both sides of the camera. Everyone comments that I must have a million pictures of my family, but that’s not true. And I know it’s a similar story for many others.

Amy and JP, aka, the Prutches are a husband and wife team of photographers. They literally reside 4 blocks from me. We met 10 years ago, after being introduced by our FedEx driver. Our kids go to the same schools and we celebrate most of our holidays together. The most famous of which is our annual 4th of July block party. JP is one of the few people I know with as as much technical knowledge as I have and we talk nearly every day. I call him the other half of my brain. Amy calls me his boyfriend. Needless to say, they’re family.

Lately, I’ve been wanting to explore a new direction in my work. My current style is cinematic, accomplished with the compression and environmental isolation of my beloved 70-200 telephoto lens. I like the storytelling aspect of wide angle lenses, but they have an inherent depth of field, meaning everything is in focus even wide open. Canon has a couple of wide angle lenses which have a very wide aperture. This would give me a shallow depth of field. In short, this means I could control my plane of focus and make things in the background dreamy and soft as I do with my longer lenses. I contacted Canon and had them send me two lenses for evaluation. The Canon 24mm f1.4 and the 35mm f1.4.

It just happened that the Prutches invited our family to Long Beach, Washington for a weekend getaway. We have endeared this coming together of our families as “KepPrutch” time. I asked if they were willing to let me photograph their family and they graciously agreed. Our mutual friend, David Williams from Australia, has made it his mission to encourage photographers to document each other’s families. Pay it forward. I know it’s hard for Amy and JP to get family portraits done since they are BOTH photographers. The hard part for me is that if there’s one thing I know by now about the Prutches, it’s that they are anything but normal. That was the challenge.

I mean, come on. Anyone who names their blog “The Shutter Monkey” has got to be somewhat irreverent. Posing on the beach is not something that authentically captures who they are as a family. Not to lessen their affection for each other, but they are not the type to hold hands and gaze into each other’s eyes. They’d be laughing before I could release the shutter. They were the perfect family to challenge myself with a new style of shooting portraits that are different than what you’d expect to see from a family portrait session at the beach.

My Facebook friends challenged me to illustrate how a wide angle lens could be used effectively in environmental portraiture. I also brought along my beloved Lensbaby for something even more distinctly different. At the end of the day, we had great fun with the Prutches. I was nervous shooting for two other professionals, but pushed myself to do it regardless of the outcome. Long Beach is one of the few beaches in Washington where you can actually drive on the beach. We threw the kids in the back of the Dodge Ram pickup and took off for a day of adventure. The kids never stopped smiling and we all left with more KepPrutch memories.

So tell me. What do you think of this new direction? What do you like or dislike about these images? Do they tell a story? Is this something you’d want for your own family? Does this capture a moment that will be remembered when our kids are parents themselves?

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  • Amber

    Oh Randy Kepple… these are SO SO SO great!! They capture Wyatt’s fun personality, Hunter’s smiling eyes, Amy & JP’s ‘goofballness’ & love… I’m sitting here at my desk giggling, awwww-ing and a couple of these photos gave me goosebumps.

    These are fantastic and capture the Prutches beautifully!!

    and by the way…The Godfather photo… perfect!

    Great stuff!ReplyCancel

  • Randy these are AWESOME!! Knowing these guys, you captured their personalities perfectly! There is such a variety too which I love. Really fabulous work! :)ReplyCancel

Heritage High School prepares life long learners who are compassionate, who are globally aware and who have the courage to persevere in a changing world.

Meet Allie. Graduating high school senior, valedictorian of her class—a rare combination of brains and beauty. The perfect student to represent the mission statement of her teachers. You can be sure you’ll be seeing more of this talented woman as she makes her mark in the world. And the world will be a better place for it!

Allie wanted the backdrop of Vancouver for her high school senior portrait session. We had a great time getting to know each other and I even brought along another talented high school senior, Ian.

He shadowed me during December for his high school culminating project. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of shooting going on at that time, so he spent his week watching me work in front of my computer. As much a real world experience as that is, it’s just not the rock star photographer image everyone has of what I do for a living. Perception versus reality. Two worlds colliding. Look for a behind-the-scenes image of Ian in this set. So, without further ado… let me introduce Allie.

My name is: Allie
I’m a Senior at: Heritage High School
Childhood Ambition: Changed a lot. Finally decided on businesswoman.
Fondest Memory: Spending a week in Hawaii with the family.
Soundtrack: Everything is Beautiful – Starfield.
Retreat: Going on a run through the park.
Wildest Dream: To be in a movie—my lifelong secret desire!
Proudest Moment: Giving a speech at 8th grade graduation as valedictorian.
Biggest Challenge: Not catching senioritis.
Alarm Clock: My cell phone… and if that doesn’t work, my mother.
Perfect Day: SUNNY, warm, and no rain.
First Job: Tutor for a family friend.
Indulgence: Shopping.
Last Purchase: Sixteen-ounce Peach Pleasure from Jamba Juice.
Favorite Movie: The Count of Monte Cristo.
Inspiration: Jesus, all the way.
My Life: Will make an exciting change as I attend George Fox University this fall.
My Future: Is directed by God. It will be grand!

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  • Brian Laurent

    Great shoot Randy. As always, I’m impressed by the harmony of the palette in each shot, especially the orange-amber-rust along the graffiti wall and the pale blue-green-grays of the riverside gravelbed. How does you do it? And I like the cascading fountain background and lensbaby stuff across the street. I’m pretty sure I know exactly the place. But tell Ian to tone it down. He looked pretty fired up. 😉ReplyCancel

  • Thanks Brian!

    I appreciate your comments. I just told Allie to bring along some of her favorite outfits and suggested what to wear based on where we were at. My favorite outfit of hers was the yellow sweater and the green top. Really worked with her skin tones and the area we were shooting.

    And Ian? Yeah… he was a little embarrassed about having his picture taken I think…ReplyCancel

Let me introduce you to The Wedding Chicks, Amy and Jocey. That’s me in the image below toasting these funky fun, hip chicks. Who are these guys and why should you care?

They have one of the coolest wedding related sites going these days. If you’re a bride looking for inspiration, ideas, do-it-yourself freebies, then you need to visit their site and follow them on Twitter. They’re always featuring new products, running contests and just kicking it hard for you brides.

So Randy, why all the love for the Wedding Chicks, you ask? Because they featured a very cool freebie on their site that was put together by a hard working behind the scenes chick, who’s getting married in October. The theme for their wedding is inspired by the Mad Men series on AMC.

If you haven’t seen this show yet, you really owe it to yourself to rent the entire series. Right now. Seriously. It’s that good. One of the best written, engaging shows you’ll ever watch. From the authenticity of the props to the issues featured as the backdrop for the show. If you lived in the 60’s or are intrigued by all things retro, you’ll enjoy this show.

What is the freebie that inspired me to write? This Save the Date card generator. You choose the colors, add a couple lines of text and have a 4×6 version emailed to you immediately, ready to print.

And yes… my wedding anniversary is May 23rd. These are two versions that I created and really liked. Makes me wish I was getting married again, just so I could send out these cool cards. What do you think? Isn’t this the coolest thing ever?

Thanks Wedding Chicks!

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  • who hoo Randy thank you so much for being a fan! Super impressive. Love it. Love JoceyReplyCancel

When I say Kansas City, most people think Kansas. But the real deal is in Missouri. The turn of the century classic across the river from it’s younger sibling that spawned generations of blues and world famous barbeque. The other place is called KCK and you’d know that if you were from Missouri. Kansas City is full of wonderful memories for me. It’s where I was born and raised. My work ethic, moral code and “show me” attitude were all grounded in the Midwest.

When I traveled there for Kristen’s wedding, I extended my trip a few days to visit my father. He is the third owner of a jewelry store that’s been in Richmond, Missouri since 1850. Since my trip, he’s sold the store and retired to continue his personal work in South Africa. My father was a minister and that’s how I fell in love with the Northwest, as we traveled across the country to a congregation in Seattle. He’s remained active in the ministry, even while running his jewelry store for decades. He’s now free to focus on his passion of helping South Africans set up small businesses and churches.

The first thing I did when I arrived in town was eat lunch at the original Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque in Kansas City, Missouri. There are four regions in our country famous for different styles of barbeque and trust me, the Northwest is not one of them! My friend, blues musician Mark DuFresne and I literally grew up just down the road from each other. Kansas City barbeque is always a topic of conversation for us. Arthur Bryant’s may not be the best in town, but it’s the most well known. Presidents, celebrities and regular folk all have sat down together at this world famous joint. It’s a Kansas City institution.

Sitting at Arthur Bryant’s, I thought the neighborhood felt familiar. I called my dad who reminded me that I grew up just down the street, so I drove past the old house and the church where he was a minister. I learned to ride a bike in that church parking lot. Remembered the stone wall like it was yesterday, where I scrapped the skin off my knuckles because I was afraid to turn the bike handles in fear of falling over. And Askew Elementary, which three generations of our family attended school. Lots of history there for me.

While taking pictures with my Lensbaby for my dad, the minister pulled up. I thought I was in trouble for taking photos of the church, but that was not the story this time. It was sheer coincidence. The nicest man— I shared with him my memories of growing up in that church. He was very interested in the history and opened up the church and let me step inside the memories of my childhood. As I left, he warmly embraced me and told me to thank my father for keeping the ground. I had to ask my dad what he meant. Ended up being preacher speak. An inner code.

My father wore me out keeping up with his busy schedule. We drove to Carrollton, Missouri and recorded a couple of father and son radio ads for the retirement sale, ate more barbeque and drove back for a city council meeting. My beloved aunt works for my dad, so I spent time with her as well. It was strange being home. Felt comfortable, as if I’d never left.

Just outside where my dad lives is another famous barbeque joint in the old Wabash train station called Wabash BBQ in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. I had to stop and compare their short ribs to Arthur Bryant’s. Purely for scientific reasons, of course. If I’d had more time, I would have sampled a lot more barbeque.

I also spent a weekend with my friend Mark Kegans in Des Moines, Iowa. Everyone who knows Mark loves him and his witty, sarcastic, dry sense of humor. A unique and talented photographer who’s roots go back to the Dallas Morning Tribune in Texas. I got to meet the Des Moines crew (who tried to hurt me with alcoholic drinks) and photograph a 12 hour wedding alongside this wedding legend who may actually be better then me.

Thanks for sharing in this personal journey of my humble beginnings. I feel that knowing the personal history of any artist is valuable insight into what motivates them. I promise to get back to business with my next post. There is a long list of things to share with you. So tell me gentle reader… what’s the best BBQ you’ve ever had?

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  • Brian Laurent

    Fantastic post Randy! It’s inspiring to see you share your story in such an open and heartfelt way. The photos that go along, especially of you as a kid and your family now, are moving. I’d love to meet Mark too, sometime, but not necessarily the drinks from his friends. (lightweight) Great story and thanks for sharing. Now about the BBQ, not cool. I’m starving right now and that was torture. Delicious torture.ReplyCancel

  • Hey Randy,

    Isn’t it great going back to the places that are small memories, to see how they are different and, yet, ghosts of the same?

    Favorite barbecue, hands down, is my husband’s. A recipe he got from his step dad.


  • Bob Hackler

    Wow. This brought back some memories. I have been really busy and am just now catching up on your posts.

    Now that picture of you in front of the house is the stronger memory I have of you although I barely remember the house. You look about the age you were when Grandpa Siveright and your Dad “accidently” shot Santa Claus one Christmas. Now that I think about it, that was at your house in North KC a year or two later.

    Is that the old Van Brunt Church? I remember it with windows (although it looks like original windows have been bricked in.) If so, I spent many a service there. That is where Great Grandpa Kepple preached for so many years, and where his funeral was held. More people attended than could get in the place and so when we got there people were standing on the sidewalk and in the parking lot. Later, Dad bought his white/gold 58 Chevy from Grandma and I drove it through my high school years before heading off to Texas.

    I love the pictures of your Dad and Auntie Gwen. Especially the one of him laughing. That is my most-ready image of your Dad. His smile and that unique laugh he has. Of course, no picture of Gwen is authentic unless it presents her with cigarette in hand.

    Barbeque? I love it all. Memphis, Carolinas, Kansas City and of course, Texas barbeque. Sonny Bryan’s in Dallas, The Mt Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Huntsville, just to begin a long list.

    Have a great week.ReplyCancel

  • Bob… Really appreciate you taking the time to visit the blog and leave your comments.

    Yes, that is indeed the church on Van Brunt. I remember those walls so very well. Learned to ride my bike there as I mentioned in my post.

    Yes, the photo of my Dad laughing. That’s the man we all love. He does have a great laugh, much like Clifford! And you’re right about Aunt Gwen. She is a tried and true smoker and no photo would be complete without that cigarette. Very authentic, huh?

    And Barbeque. I hope that I have more time in my life to travel and experience all the amazing barbeque in Memphis and Texas. I watch Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (Triple D) and he’s always hitting these amazing BBQ joints across the country.

    Thanks so much Bob!ReplyCancel

“You are beautiful, my darling, beautiful beyond words. Your eyes are like doves behind your veil. Your hair falls in waves, like a flock of goats winding down the slopes of Gilead.” – Song of Solomon 4:1

Kristen walked into my life one afternoon when she interviewed to be my assistant. She became a vital part of my business and a beloved part of our family. We worked together for two wedding seasons. She gained my respect for putting in her time, as an apprentice and learning the craft of wedding photography. Many before her have burned out after a few weddings. It’s a lot more work than people realize.

Kristen and I share a similar language. We communicate through our images. Her artistic sensibility and point of view closely mirror my own. Her laughter is infectious and there is no way you can keep a straight face. I knew the day would eventually come when our paths would take us in different directions. When it did, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I was proud of who she had become— happy she was stretching her wings, but sad she was leaving. She definitely set a standard that no on has come close to matching.

Years passed and the day came when she announced that she was engaged to be married! You can imagine the great honor and twinge of fear when she asked me to photograph her wedding. Honor, that I was asked to photograph the wedding of my greatest protege. Fear? Yes, the fear of failure. It’s true that the teacher becomes the student, but please don’t let that happen at the student’s wedding. Our entire family was excited for Kristen’s new season of life.

One of the things we often spoke of was our memories of growing up in the Midwest. When she told me her wedding was in her hometown of Fort Scott, Kansas, I was excited for the opportunity to travel back to the Midwest. It had been too long. I met her fiance Drew for the first time at the rehearsal dinner and it was exciting to see the two of them together. I had never seen Kristen so happy. She was literally glowing and radiating joy and love.

I’d heard a lot about her family and it was wonderful to finally meet her sister, parents and the entire family. I’m not sure they quite knew what to make of me, but embraced me with warmth and kindness. The Lyons Twin Mansions is an amazing Victorian style bed and breakfast and you’d be hard pressed to find a more charming host than Miss Pat.

Without question, my favorite wedding to photograph is a destination wedding. Your entire focus is on the wedding and being in the moment as a part of the family. It was wonderful to put a face to all the players in Kristen’s life that I had heard about over the years. I feel that everything really came together that day. Obviously, Kristen knew what I needed to make the magic happen and ensured the day was relaxed and care free. We literally shot till the cows came home.

It was a pleasure to meet both families and Miss Pat. Everyone was gracious, charming and smiling from ear to ear. I honestly don’t know what could have been done to make it a better event. Best wishes to Kristen and Drew, my beloved friends. May you enjoy a lifetime of happiness!

Fort Scott, Kansas destination wedding of Kristen and DrewFort Scott, Kansas destination wedding of Kristen and DrewAmerican Gothic parody in Fort Scott, KansasLight source - Ford Focus Rental CarLit entirely with the headlights of my rental car!

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  • This is wonderful, Randy! Fort Scott has a charming presence in your pictures… looks like a great place. My personal favorite of this sparkly couple is the kiss in the car lights. I bet they were really, really happy with your work!
    I also think Theresa might just kill for those shoes…ReplyCancel

  • Brian Laurent

    Beautiful work Randy. The intimacy and sincerity of your post is clearly evident in the images. I really like the creativity and diversity of all the settings, posing and lighting.ReplyCancel

  • Brilliantly creative as always. Only 33 images here and I think you have told thier story.ReplyCancel

  • What a beautiful wedding. She is just stunning. And happy too. I love the shoes, that’s a great shot, and the almost kiss with the light coming through — lots of love coming through in all of them.ReplyCancel

  • chris hodney

    Fantastic photos Randy! I love the one in front of the rounded wood door, and the brick background with finger pointing.ReplyCancel

  • Amazing work as always , Really like the way you capture images! very nice!ReplyCancel

  • Stunning images. I love the ones of her getting ready, coming down the stairs… and then the last one of the couple in the dark. Fabulous!ReplyCancel