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Sunday, December 28, 2014


Happy holidays and congrats to everyone out there getting engaged during the holiday season!  Before you know it you’ll be featured in wedding artwork such as this beautiful photo of Anne and Brian at Moonlight Basin in Big Sky Montana.  Now is the time when there is a huge rush on wedding vendors of all types, from venues and photographers to designers and florists.  Many of the best vendors are almost finished booking for 2015 already.  If you’re newly engaged and plan to marry in 2015, it’s time to book your wedding photographer and your venue before it’s too late to secure your dream wedding.  I know the process can be overwhelming, so I took the time last season to write up a five part blog series on how to choose your wedding photographer.  Tip 1 is here: http://blog.paulbellinger.com/2014/03/how-to-choose-your-wedding-photographer_25.html and there are links within to the rest of the tips.  I hope you find them helpful for choosing your wedding photographer and all of your wedding vendors!

I am Billings Montana wedding photographer Paul Bellinger.  I photograph weddings of all shapes and sizes, from the beaches to the mountains, and every wedding destination in between.  It would be my honor to photograph your wedding.  www.paulbellinger.com

Sunday, December 21, 2014


This is one of my favorite photos of the year, taken while I was on set with Kenneth Jarecke during a corporate shoot in fall 2014.  It is a real honor to be able to spend time with a legendary photographer and learn from his 30+ years of experience at the highest levels of the profession.  Ken has become a great friend and mentor for me over the last year.  He has thoroughly schooled me on a range of photography and non-photography topics and I am eternally grateful for his friendship.  Thanks for everything Ken!

Want some free advice from Ken?  Check out one of my favorite articles that Ken published a couple of years ago.  The first step to getting better is admitting you suck in the first place!  Read the article here.

Tips for photographers:  Find a mentor!  If you want to be great, you have to learn from the greats, plain and simple.  You cannot become great all by yourself, and more than likely, a go it alone attitude will be a detriment to realizing your potential.  Admit that there are people out there who have a lot more wisdom than you do, and get hungry for that wisdom.  Once you find a mentor, listen to them!  I had a difficult experience recently with a corporate client and Ken predicted their every move and gave me perfect advice at every turn.  If I would have listened to him 100% instead of 90% I could have avoided some major headaches right from the start.  Trust me, investing in a mentor is worth so much more than any gear or online tutorial you can buy.  So stop browsing for gear and start looking for a mentor who can help you reach the next level.

I am Billings MT photographer Paul Bellinger and I make pictures.  I specialize in Montana weddings and contemporary portraiture.  My portrait studio is located in downtown Billings MT and I am available for any wedding destination or portrait commission worldwide.  www.paulbellinger.com  www.portraits.paulbellinger.com

Saturday, December 20, 2014


I love making my bros look good in their corporate headshots and professional portraits.  In the world of photography it seems like guys get the short end of the stick, and are rarely treated to a professional portrait session unless their wife or mom is dragging them along.  But dudes need great portraits too!  I’m glad Jerimiah came to me for his corporate headshot and we also made a nice fashion style portrait as well because he’s always looking stylish.  Thanks for coming to Paul Bellinger Photography Jerimiah!

Why get a professional portrait or corporate headshot?  A good portrait is something that is becoming rare in the age of the cell phone selfie.  But the corporate world still understands that there is no substitute for a professional corporate headshot to help you stand out from the crowd.  The right portrait can convey the exact message you want to send to your potential clients, before they ever meet you in person.  A portrait can make you look powerful, confident, nice, vulnerable, approachable, trustworthy, etc.  What type of message do you want to send your future clients?

Tips for photographers:
Wow, these are two dramatically different photos.  The first photo is lit with natural light from a single source, a window that Jeremiah is facing, while standing in front of 4’x8’ piece of Styrofoam painted green.  I have black curtains on my windows and I can control the size and height of the window light with the help of a clamp or two.  In this case I’ve opened the curtains about a two feet or so and clamped at the bottom creating a V-shaped light that is wider at the top.  I am standing just to the right of the window so the light has a slight direction to it.  I wouldn’t really call this first photo a corporate headshot, it’s a portrait and not very corporate, but I really like it and it would be suitable as a corporate professional photo for someone that is looking to stand out from the crowd.

The second photo is a much more traditional corporate headshot lit with four strobes, although a nearly identical look can be achieved with three strobes.  The main light is from two light sources, a beauty dish and a four-foot softbox about a foot or two above head height and a few feet camera left (you can see them clearly in the catchlights in his eyes), creating the lighting pattern on his face.  I wanted what is known as “short lighting” with the strong shadow to create the slimming and chiseling effect that you get from side lighting (read about broad and short lighting here).  The beauty dish gives great directionality but can be a little harsh, so I often like to soften it up with a big softbox or umbrella.  The other two lights are very straightforward, a smaller 12 inch beauty dish behind him and camera right above head height creates the kicker highlight you see on his hair, ear and neck.  Lastly there is a bare strobe with circular reflector behind Jerimiah lighting up the background.  This is a very traditional corporate headshot lighting technique although I made it a little edgier with the directional main light and “short lighting” on his face.

Billings MT portrait photographer Paul Bellinger makes modern, stylish portraits at his studio in downtown Billings Montana and on location anywhere in the world.  Paul specializes in making magazine quality fashion and corporate portraits.  For a portrait or corporate headshot in Billings Montana, please visit www.portraits.paulbellinger.com

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Montana, get ready for some wedding fashion!  I recently photographed an amazing fashion editorial with Montana Bride magazine, featuring an exclusive look at some jaw dropping S/S 2015 wedding dresses that are straight off of the fall runways.  Check out the delicate details on this elegant bohemian wedding dress, Ti Adora by Alvina Valenta. We brought together an outstanding team, with styling by Katalin Green, who hooked us up with the most stunning wedding dresses that aren’t even available until spring 2015, hair and makeup by the wonderful Sydney Ross, a gifted pair of models and assistants, and so much more.  Look for the spread in Montana Bride’s 2015 issue.

Photographer: Paul Bellinger
Styling: Katalin Green
Hair and makeup: Sydney Ross
Models: Arley Knerr and Braydon Sinclair
Dress: ti adora by Alvina Valenta
Bowtie: Hitched Bowties
Suspenders: Jess Leather
Wedding band: Montague’s Jewelers 
Men’s Clothing: Jim’s Formal Wear
Stylist assistant: Brett Conner
Photo assistant: Zak Jokela
Location: Billings Open Studio

It is awesome to be a Billings Montana Wedding photographer and make amazing work with talented people such as those listed above and so many more each year.  Their talents have rubbed off on me and have made me a better photographer in the process.  I will bring those talents with me forever and that is a wonderful gift.  Thank you to everyone who has rubbed off on me this year!  www.paulbellinger.com

Monday, December 15, 2014


Love makes you feel like you are on top of the world, but trust me, there is nothing like actually being on top of the world with your love.  The high elevation can literally take your breath away and to enjoy the view with your loved ones is something special.  This is the view from nearly 11,000 feet, on the Beartooth Highway in the Beartooth mountain range looking out over the Absaroka mountain range just across the Montana border in Wyoming.  Fitting for a wedding, the wedding cake shaped peak on the right is Pilot Peak, which sits at 11,699 feet (see more about Pilot peak here).  See more from Kristen and Jake’s epic wedding here.

It is almost magical to sit on the top of one mountain range and see another mountain range at eye level.  Most people rarely, if ever, get to look a mountain in the eye, but that’s one of the perks of living so close to the national treasure that is the Beartooth Highway 212 in Southern Montana and Northern Wyoming.  This location is only about a two hour drive from downtown Billings Montana and only about 30 minutes from Red Lodge Montana.  And this is the view right on the highway at one of the many scenic pullouts.  It makes for an outstanding afternoon drive for engagement photos, honeymoon photos, or even just a joy ride with the dogs, as my wife and I often do.  In this case, Kristen and Jake were taking a mini-honeymoon in the Red Lodge area after their wedding, and decided to go exploring the Beartooth Pass with their wedding photographer. 

Tips for brides: The day after session

This type of session is called a “day after” session, or a “honeymoon” session and it is included in my most popular wedding collection.  This session includes worldwide travel so that my clients can make the most of their honeymoon travel by having an exclusive shoot with their wedding photographer in an exotic destination.  So far this year we’ve been to Vancouver, Maui, Yellowstone, Glacier, the Beartooth mountains, and many more places around Montana.  This upcoming year we already have trips on the calendar for Western Europe, Fiji, Disney World and Phoenix.  I love to travel and photograph weddings in any destination worldwide. 

Beyond allowing us to go to amazing locations with the beautiful bride and her wedding dress, the honeymoon session is also great for a couple of practical reasons.  First, it gives us more time to make creative portraits of the bride and groom alone.  Having extra time is nice because these are usually the most important portraits that will be printed and hanging as artwork in your home, so the extra time and lack of wedding day chaos enables us to make something amazing.  Second, it frees up the wedding day so that the timeline is more flexible and you can spend more time with your guests.  This is huge!  Some of your wedding guests have traveled far to spend time with you, and you don’t want your photographer to take up too much time on your wedding day.  At the same time, these are going to be your favorite portraits and you want to give your photographer enough time to work their magic.  The honeymoon session solves both problems, relieving a source of stress on the wedding day, and ensuring you receive family heirloom quality images that will be printed and hang as artwork in your home.  I highly recommend asking about a day after session before booking your wedding photographer.

I am Billings Montana wedding photographer Paul Bellinger, one of Montana’s most exclusive wedding photographers.  I specialize in making the wedding photos of your dreams, in any wedding destination from the beaches to the mountains.  My wedding gallery and portrait studio is located in downtown Billings Montana.   www.paulbellinger.com

Thursday, December 11, 2014


One of the best parts of my career as a wedding photographer is exploring the places that are special for my couples.  Thanks to my awesome couples I’ve been lucky to see all kinds of beautiful places across Montana and beyond.  I’ve been hearing about Hyalite Canyon (just outside of Bozeman Montana), since I moved to Montana, and Carrie and Jake were nice enough to show me their favorite parts of the park.  Hyalite Canyon has something for everyone, from rugged peaks and canyons, to streams, waterfalls, and a huge reservoir.  It’s a special place for Carrie and Jake, who visited often while in school at Montana State.  We spent the better part of an afternoon shooting in the area and admiring the beautiful scenery.  Thank you for showing me a wonderful afternoon Carrie and Jake!

Tip for brides: Engagement sessions are included with every wedding collection, along with a wedding album.  Most clients receive complimentary worldwide travel for engagement sessions, wedding days, and honeymoon sessions, and travel is always free inside of Montana.  Engagement sessions are a lot of fun, but they also play a crucial role in letting you get to know your wedding photographer and get comfortable with how your photographer works in the field.  For these reasons, I highly recommend doing your engagement session with the same photographer you'll have shooting your wedding.   

Paul Bellinger is one of Montana's most exclusive wedding photographers.  Paul specializes in making the wedding photos you’ve dreamed about.  A master of photographing any scene, Paul can go anywhere and do anything for our exclusive clientele.  There is no adventure too big or wedding too small, from the beaches to the mountains, it's our honor to photograph your wedding.  www.paulbellinger.com

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Every now and then I make a portrait that stops me in my tracks and reminds me of the raw power of the portrait.  This portrait of David does that for me.  David himself is a raw power hidden behind a polite, soft-spoken exterior.  But in this portrait you can see the raw power of ambition and a not so quiet confidence that lies under the surface.  That’s David.  Focused and determined, he’s an inspiration.  Congratulations on all of your accomplishments David, and thank you for spending the afternoon with me and inspiring me.

Tips for photographers: This photo is lit with window light coming through a wired window creating a unique shadow pattern.  The light source is the sun bouncing off a highly reflective glass building, so it’s very similar to direct sunlight diffused only by the window slightly.  The light pattern on David’s face is called “broad lighting” because the light is coming from the broad side of his face.  How can you tell which is the broad or short side of a face?  It has nothing to do with the actual size of the subjects face in reality, but how their face appears in the two dimensional space of a photograph.  In the photo, the camera left side of his face is the broad side because the distance between his right ear and his nose appears larger than the distance between his nose and his left ear.  The light is coming from the broad side of his face, hence “broad lighting.”  Broad lighting highlights the width of the face so it is often used to convey power, but it should not be used when the subject prefers the slimming effect of short lighting.

Billings Montana portrait photographer Paul Bellinger makes modern, stylish portraits.  Paul is available for any type of portrait session, from corporate headshots to senior portraits.  For a portrait session in Billings Montana or anywhere in the world, please visit www.portraits.paulbellinger.com