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Pictures of the Year 2020

Kruise Kalispell, dragging Main Street on a Friday evening to celebrate the 2020 graduating classes of both local high schools, in spite of Montana’s Stay At Home Order due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Photojournalists bearing witness to history. Pictures of the Year 2020 by Kent Meireis documented the COVID-19 pandemic, the presidential election, one wedding, Black Lives Matters and daily life. This essay of my Pictures of the Year 2020 occurring mostly in rural northwest Montana, is what community journalism is all about. It’s personal, you live among the people you photograph.

It has been an extraordinary year, one that we all want to come to an end. However, it has been a great opportunity to photograph one of the most important years in my lifetime. It pushed me out the door and into places that were uncomfortable.

The first couple of months of the year felt normal, covering Cabin Fever Days and the Bar Stool Races in Martin City in February. Then, boom, Whitefish Mountain Resort closed in March and suddenly there were masks and social distancing that caused divisions that are still playing out nine months later.

The year 2020 will likely go down as a pivotal time in the history of the world, forever changing the way we work, play, and live. I wonder how many people will have moved away from big cities and work remotely? Will weddings become even bigger events, or will more couples decide to have small elopement-style weddings?

Who knows what 2021 will bring. If there’s one thing that 2020 has taught us, it’s how life and plans can, and will, change faster than ever.

Cheers to 2021 and vaccines! Please stay safe and keep wearing your masks!

Peace, Kent

Pictures of the Year 2020

Our friend, Sam Adams, a comedian and journalist from Denver performed during a birthday party in Kalispell.

Pictures of the Year 2020

My Montana Wedding EXPO fashion show at the fairgrounds.

Pictures of the Year 2020

President Trump’s Impeachment trial.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Roaring Twenty’s-themed Winter Carnival in Whitefish.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Sled dogs in the Winter Carnival in Whitefish.

Pictures of the Year 2020

The 2020 Beer League Talk Outdoor Classic International hockey tournament.

Pictures of the Year 2020

The 2020 Beer League Talk Outdoor Classic International hockey tournament.

Pictures of the Year 2020

The 2020 Beer League Talk Outdoor Classic International hockey tournament.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Participants in the Cabin Fever Days Bar Stool Races in Martin City.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Participants in the Cabin Fever Days Bar Stool Races in Martin City.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Spectators at the Cabin Fever Days Bar Stool Races in Martin City.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Flathead Classic sled dog races at Dog Creek Lodge & Nordic Center.

Pictures of the Year 2020

A spectator at the Flathead Classic sled dog races at Dog Creek Lodge & Nordic Center, keeps her little dog warm.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Jolly was one of the many cats Geri and I photographed at the local humane society to help get them adopted.

Pictures of the Year 2020

A young couple plays pond hockey with their dog in Kalispell.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Carma venturing out on the frozen Stillwater River.

Pictures of the Year 2020

A local skins up to the top of Big Mountain the day after the lifts closed down for the season due to COVID-19.

Pictures of the Year 2020

A local skins up to the top of Big Mountain the day after the lifts closed down for the season due to COVID-19.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Carma relaxes in our bathroom window.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Grocery shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Lucy gave birth to this bull calf on Earth Day at KZ Farms south of Kalispell.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Kruise Kalispell, dragging Main Street, in spite of Montana’s Stay At Home Order due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Kruise Kalispell, dragging Main Street, in spite of Montana’s Stay At Home Order due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Kruise Kalispell, dragging Main Street, in spite of Montana’s Stay At Home Order due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Tintype black and white photo of Carma.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Flathead High School graduates toss their caps during their socially-distanced ceremony in Kalispell.

Pictures of the Year 2020

More than 1,000 people turned out for the “I Can’t Breathe” demonstration at Depot Park near downtown Kalispell, Montana, to protest the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man whose death was caught on video in Minneapolis. Hundreds of armed ‘Peacekeepers’ carrying high-powered rifles attended the rally as well, saying they were there to keep the peace. No arrests were made during the event that lasted more than four hours.

Pictures of the Year 2020

More than 1,000 people turned out for the “I Can’t Breathe” demonstration at Depot Park near downtown Kalispell, Montana, to protest the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man whose death was caught on video in Minneapolis. Hundreds of armed ‘Peacekeepers’ carrying high-powered rifles attended the rally as well, saying they were there to keep the peace. No arrests were made during the event that lasted more than four hours.

Pictures of the Year 2020

More than 1,000 people turned out for the “I Can’t Breathe” demonstration at Depot Park near downtown Kalispell, Montana, to protest the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man whose death was caught on video in Minneapolis. Hundreds of armed ‘Peacekeepers’ carrying high-powered rifles attended the rally as well, saying they were there to keep the peace. No arrests were made during the event that lasted more than four hours.

Pictures of the Year 2020

A diesel truck rolls coal on the Black Lives Matter protestors as more than 1,000 people turned out for the “I Can’t Breathe” demonstration at Depot Park near downtown Kalispell, Montana to protest the murder of George Floyd an unarmed black man whose death was caught on video in Minneapolis. Hundreds of armed ‘Peacekeepers’ carrying high-powered rifles attended the rally as well, saying they were there to keep the peace. No arrests were made during the event that lasted more than four hours.

Pictures of the Year 2020

A diesel truck rolls coal on the Black Lives Matter protestors as more than 1,000 people turned out for the “I Can’t Breathe” demonstration at Depot Park near downtown Kalispell, Montana to protest the murder of George Floyd an unarmed black man whose death was caught on video in Minneapolis. Hundreds of armed ‘Peacekeepers’ carrying high-powered rifles attended the rally as well, saying they were there to keep the peace. No arrests were made during the event that lasted more than four hours.

Pictures of the Year 2020

More than 1,000 people turned out for the “I Can’t Breathe” demonstration at Depot Park near downtown Kalispell, Montana, to protest the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man whose death was caught on video in Minneapolis. Hundreds of armed ‘Peacekeepers’ carrying high-powered rifles attended the rally as well, saying they were there to keep the peace. No arrests were made during the event that lasted more than four hours.

Pictures of the Year 2020

East Glacier was closed for the season because the Blackfeet Nation decided that COVID-19 continued to pose a threat to their reservation, which borders the entire east side of Glacier National Park.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Glacier National Park Superintendent, Jeff Mow, was interviewed by a local TV reporter as Glacier National Park slowly began reopening June 8th, after being closed to the public since March 27 because of COVID-19.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Flag Day ceremony at the War Memorial in Depot Park in downtown Kalispell, included the burning of retired flags.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Burning Hearts Bleeding Hearts, we have three different varieties and not one is the common variety.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Our Bearded Iris didn’t disappoint this season.

Pictures of the Year 2020

A bicyclist on The Going To The Sun Road in Glacier National Park before the road opened to vehicle traffic.

Pictures of the Year 2020

The National Anthem gets the Brash Rodeo started in Columbia Falls.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Kids watch a friend do a back flip off a picnic table at the Brash Rodeo in Columbia Falls.

Pictures of the Year 2020

A chute steer bulldogger wears a COVID-19 mask at the Brash Rodeo in Columbia Falls.

Pictures of the Year 2020

An interracial styled wedding session with Sami and Brycen on Big Mountain.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Carma peeks out of her hiding place in our front yard.

Pictures of the Year 2020

A Big Horn Ram jumps the railing at Logan Pass on The Going To The Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

Pictures of the Year 2020

A buck along The Going To The Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Geri takes a picture at sunset along the shore of Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Geri and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary at the Yaak Mountain Lookout north of Troy, Montana.

Pictures of the Year 2020

A tourist from Florida wearing a COVID-19 mask at Kootenai Falls Park.

Pictures of the Year 2020

War Birds over Whitefish, a local radio-controlled model airplane show, hosted by the Glacier RCer’s.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Pollination bee on an Echinacea flower in our backyard.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Hummingbirds loved the Bee Balm flowers growing in our backyard.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Our 95-year-old friend Howard Jacobson, at the Montana Veterans Home in Columbia Falls, talks with us on a phone through a glass door because of COVID-19.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Montana Will Worship, a worship service lead by John Gabriel Arends of Kalispell, in the old Gateway West Mall parking lot, was pretty much a Jesus rock concert with prayer healing counseling.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Montana Will Worship, a worship service lead by John Gabriel Arends of Kalispell, in the old Gateway West Mall parking lot, was pretty much a Jesus rock concert with prayer healing counseling.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Montana Will Worship service at Foys Lake near Kalispell, Montana, included baptizing ten people.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Montana Will Worship  service at Foys Lake near Kalispell, Montana, included baptizing ten people.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Getting a backcountry permit meant lining up at the Glacier National Park office in Apgar at 4am with no guarantee you would get the nights in the campgrounds you wanted.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Geri rounds a corner toward Granite Park Chalet campground while backpacking in Glacier National Park.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Geri picking peaches in our backyard.

Pictures of the Year 2020

We had a bountiful harvest of peaches and tomatoes.

Pictures of the Year 2020

A bull bison wallows in the dirt at The National Bison Range refuge on the Flathead Indian Reservation.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Dorothea and Scott kiss on their way out of their suite at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. Their wedding was relocated and downsized to just Geri and I due to COVID-19 precautions.

Pictures of the Year 2020

4th Annual March 4 Black Women at the Colorado State Capitol, Denver, September 26, 2020.

Pictures of the Year 2020

4th Annual March 4 Black Women at the Colorado State Capitol, Denver, September 26, 2020.

Pictures of the Year 2020

4th Annual March 4 Black Women at the Colorado State Capitol, Denver, September 26, 2020.

Pictures of the Year 2020

A man wears a Ruth Bader Ginsberg t-shirt during a Get Out The Vote rally in Kalispell, Montana.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Clouds cover the valley below on The Going To The Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Geri and Carma relaxing in our backyard.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Montana Made: Drive Out The Vote Tour stop in Kalispell at the Flathead County Fairgrounds, during a drive-in style rally for statewide Democratic candidates in the 2020 elections.

Pictures of the Year 2020

A late season poppy dusted with snow in our backyard.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Flathead County had mail-in ballots for the 2020 presidential election and in-person voting at the election office in Kalispell.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Flathead Democrats took a victory lap down Main Street in Kalispell, Montana, after Joe Biden was announced as the winner of the 2020 presidential election over President Trump.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Drive through COVID-19 testing in a parking lot near Kalispell Regional Hospital during a snow storm.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Flathead County pandemic response workers were greeted by supportive citizens holding a Hallelujah Health Department Day rally as workers went to work in Kalispell, Montana.

Pictures of the Year 2020

I personally experienced COVID-19 testing at a drive-through station. Photo by Geri Meireis

Pictures of the Year 2020

I personally experienced COVID-19 testing at a drive-through station. Photo by Geri Meireis

Pictures of the Year 2020

Oil Art in a grocery store parking lot with snow melt and a fall leaf.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Leaf Series, snow and ice melt.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Leaf Series/Dutch Masters, frozen leaves and plums in our birdbath this morning.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Leaf Series/Red Maple

Pictures of the Year 2020

We met Steve, a rather large Yellow Lab, while we were out cutting our Christmas tree.

Pictures of the Year 2020

Health Care Heroes Solidarity Drive: Friday Night Caravan, about 100 supporters of nurses protested for the need of management to prioritize bargaining and accept RN staffing proposals.

 

Broadmoor 2020 WeddingDorothea and Scott’s Broadmoor 2020 Wedding on September 25th, wasn’t what they had originally planned. The COVID-19 pandemic forced them to cancel their scheduled wedding plans at the Cherokee Ranch & Castle south of Denver, for about 120 guests.

Their new plan moved the wedding ceremony and reception location to The Broadmoor hotel in Colorado Springs. Geri and I were their photographers, witnesses and only guests. Wedding officiant, Rev. Steve Koeppen, performed the ceremony on the lawn next to the lake, while Katie Hogan, Catering Sales Manager for The Broadmoor, took care of all the wedding details such as scheduling Dorothea’s hair styling and makeup at The Broadmoor Salon, and securing a dinner reservation at the Italian restaurant, Ristorante Del Lago in the hotel. Geri and I were invited to share a six-course dinner with wine pairings and wedding cake. It was, without a doubt, the best meal I’ve ever relished at a wedding.

Three years ago I photographed Scott’s daughter, Alison’s wedding after Denver Post staff photographer Helen Richardson, referred Alison and Scott to me. Geri and Scott worked together at The Denver Post, where he is the Sports Editor and Geri was the marketing director. Geri would attend editorial meetings to discuss story ideas and projects the marketing department would then promote.

Dorothea and Scott were introduced by mutual friends two years ago in spite of the fact that they have very different backgrounds. Scott, as you might expect, is all about sports, while Dorothea is all about the arts, especially theater and opera. Lucky for both of them, Denver has plenty to offer in the world of sports and the performing arts!

Cheers to Dorothea and Scott! We wish them many happy and healthy years together!

Kent & Geri

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Broadmoor 2020 Wedding

Photo by Geri Meireis

Broadmoor 2020 Wedding

Geri and I were Dorothea and Scott’s only wedding guests. Photo by Rev. Steve Koeppen

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Montana Interracial Elopement Sami & Brycen‘s styled Montana Interracial Elopement was inspired by Sami’s experience during a Black Lives Matters protest in Whitefish, Montana, earlier this summer. Still photos and video of Sami standing up to a fist clenched racist went viral and she became the poster woman for the local and beyond movement, on how to peacefully protest in the face of danger. Sami continues to give interviews both locally and nationally as the Black Lives Matters Movement continues across the United States.
After reading that the My Montana Wedding group wanted to see more weddings with couples of different races, as well as different sexual orientations to post on their website and social media, the idea was born. I asked Sami if she would be interested in doing a styled Montana Interracial Elopement photo session. And of course she said “yes”.
As with most styled photo sessions, it’s a team effort between photographers, officiates, florists, venues, and other wedding vendors. Lindsey Jane of Elope Montana agreed to help me plan and document the session. She invited Farm Blooms Montana to create a bouquet, corsages and a flowered headband for Sami to wear. Lindsey also invited Sarah Harding to join us as the officiate. Sarah did a wonderful job writing a fun ceremony, including the vows.
One other important element was that we needed a groom! That’s when I approached my friend Brycen, a local farmer in Lower Valley.
Geri and I met him at the Flathead Valley Community College farmers market two years ago, when we moved to Montana.
Originally, we wanted to stage the event on Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park, but the park has been too crowded, and with COVID-19 numbers climbing in Montana, we decided it would be better to use another location, Whitefish Mountain Resort, or Big Mountain as the locals call it.
Thank you to everyone involved for helping northwest Montana become an even more open and culturally diverse community.
Cheers, Kent
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  • lindsey - July 21, 2020 - 8:11 PM

    SO great Kent! You are amazing!!! Thanks for asking me to help out with this project. It was so much fun!!! XOXO, Lindsey

Cancer KidsCancer Kids. This week I volunteered for Flashes of Hope photographing Cancer Kids at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Another photographer who was scheduled for the sessions was ill. Even a runny nose prevents photographers from photographing these kids, many of whom can’t leave their hospital rooms. We must wear clean gloves, masks and gowns into each different room, after carefully scrubbing our hands. Then while in a patient’s room, we must be careful to not touch anything.

Flashes of Hope is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating powerful portraits of children fighting cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

One of the hardest parts of photographing Cancer Kids for Flashes of Hope is that there is no follow up with these families. I turn in my files and prints are sent to the families. The kids and their families each with their own set of circumstances, welcomes me in to see a tiny glimpse of their world. These sessions often take me in directions that I don’t expect.

This morning a story came across my Facebook news feed about a photojournalist, Leslye Davis, who covered the story of a Cancer Kid, Andrew Holland for three years.  It’s a powerful story that explains how hard it is to document stories that pull on your heart strings over and over.

Special thanks to Jenna Blongiewicz who assisted me with this session at Children’s Hospital. Jenna hired me to photograph her wedding eight years ago and we’ve been good friends ever since. Now she has two children and is learning to be both a portrait and documentary family photographer.

Peace, Kent

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  • Kay Beaton - January 22, 2018 - 12:56 PM

    Amazing work as always Kent!

  • Lee - January 23, 2018 - 11:08 AM

    Nice work Kent!

Colorado Mountain Ranch WeddingDevin and Pat had a Colorado Mountain Ranch Wedding in Gold Hill, Colorado, on September 2, 2017.

It was the ultimate Do It Yourself wedding and reception, and in a great way. Devin and Pat chose to incorporate personal details and items that had played a part in their lives leading up to their wedding day.

Starting with Colorado Mountain Ranch, where Devin has worked summers as a camp instructor leading horseback trail rides for several years.

The feathers in Devin’s bouquet and at the reception are wild turkey feathers from her childhood home in Vermont.

The feather in Pat’s boutonniere is from a Great Horned Owl found at the couple’s previous home in Lafayette, Colorado.

Flower confetti tossed on the couple during their ceremony recessional, was made by Devin’s mother from the family gardens as well as friend’s gardens in New England.

Pickles and pickled eggs for cocktail hour were made by Pat. Pat’s father made pickled eggs for their hunting trips in Vermont.

The horseshoe table numbers were constructed by Devin’s father.

Pat and Devin’s custom western brand as well as the guest book art were designed and created by Pat’s mother.

Devin’s Haiku art was on display at the reception, and are illustrations from the couples journal of Haiku poetry written during their many adventures.

Desserts were baked by Sundee Pietsch, Devin’s mentor and friend.

“Everett’s IPA” was brewed by groomsman Brad Johnson.

Long’s Peak, the 14,000 foot peak visible in the distance at the ceremony site, is one of the mountains etched on Pat’s wedding band.

Jasper arrowhead and fool’s gold favors were a tribute to the Native American Indian legacy and mining history of Gold Hill.

Another interesting detail was the Navajo rug used for Bella, the couple’s dog to sit on during their wedding ceremony. Each of the bridesmaids picked a color from the rug to be the color of her dress.

Devin and Pat’s Colorado Mountain Ranch wedding included their dog Bella as a bridesmaid, a ranch cat, and the couple’s favorite horses. Plus, a local fox made an appearance during the reception.

The band Woodshed Red played during the wedding ceremony, during the cocktail hour, and for the dance party that lasted until the midnight exit that found family and friends blowing bubbles.

Special thanks to Devin and Pat for choosing me to document their DIY wedding day.

And thanks to Lance Murphey for covering my back as a guest photographer.

Cheers to a happy life, Kent

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Colorado Mountain Ranch Wedding

Photo above by Lance Murphey

Colorado Mountain Ranch WeddingColorado Mountain Ranch Wedding

Colorado Mountain Ranch Wedding

Photo above by Lance Murphey

Colorado Mountain Ranch Wedding

Photo above by Lance Murphey

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Colorado Mountain Ranch Wedding

Photo above by Lance Murphy

Colorado Mountain Ranch WeddingColorado Mountain Ranch Wedding

Colorado Mountain Ranch Wedding

Photo above by Lance Murphy

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Colorado Mountain Ranch Wedding

Photo above by Lance Murphy

Colorado Mountain Ranch Wedding

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Colorado Mountain Ranch Wedding

Photo above by Lance Murphey

Colorado Mountain Ranch WeddingColorado Mountain Ranch Wedding

Colorado Mountain Ranch Wedding

Photo above by Lance Murphey

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  • Joe E Klingenberg - November 4, 2017 - 5:07 PM

    Beautiful couple and pictures, u captured the wedding beautifully. A tim