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Wednesday, December 30, 2015


I had a blast running around in the Beartooth Mountains with Elizabeth and Scott for their engagement session in East Rosebud! I’m always inspired when my clients have as much love and respect for nature as I do and want to head the mountains for any kind of photography session. But East Rosebud is a special treat because it is truly one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I have traveled far and wide, and seen many of the most famously beautiful mountain ranges, and I can tell you that East Rosebud is as pretty as any of them. Thank you Elizabeth and Scott for a wonderful day in the mountains!

It’s the end of the year and it’s been a busy one at Paul Bellinger Photography. Thank you to everyone who helped us make 2015 amazing and we are looking forward to another outstanding year in 2016! If you’re getting married in 2016 and looking for a great Montana wedding photographer please visit www.paulbellinger.com for more information on booking. Our studio is located in downtown Billings Montana and we travel worldwide for weddings.

Tips for photographers: This picture was made with the Sony A7ii and Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 at 3.2, 1/320 and ISO 400. My standard tip for shooting in the mountains is to use a long lens, so this is an interesting case where I broke that rule. I usually shoot with a 70-200 lens most of the time when I’m around the mountains because I like the way the compression pulls the mountains in and makes them look gigantic. But when you get this far up East Rosebud creek you’re IN the mountains and a long lens will only let you show a single peak or two. In order to show the epic environment around us I had to opt for a wider lens. Notice however that I did not go crazy wide with a 14mm or anything like that, which would have made the mountains look much smaller and further away. There were some “standing in on a rock with nearly freezing white water around you” considerations to factor in as well, so it can be difficult to use the long lens when you don’t get to stand anywhere you want.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


Everyone needs a good-looking headshot these days! With profile photos on several different social media accounts, your headshot may be seen by potentially thousands of people before they ever meet you in person. Your headshot makes an immediate impression so it’s important that your online presence is carefully curated to create the impression you want the world to see. The world has changed and boring headshots aren’t going to work anymore! You need a headshot that will stand out from the crowd of boring profile pics and amateur looking cell phone selfies. Lucky for you it’s easy to stand out for the right reasons if you hire a professional portrait photographer, especially if you find a photographer that understands the art of the headshot. When you find the right photographer make sure and give them some creative leeway, after all you’re hiring them for their taste and expertise, don’t hamstring them by requesting a boring “safe” look. Let them make something exceptional for you. At Paul Bellinger Photography we specialize in badass portraits and headshots that will help make your online presence pop! To book your sitting visit www.portraits.paulbellinger.com.

Tips for photographers: This headshot lighting is inspired by Peter Hurley’s lighting technique. I initially set out to replicate the Peter Hurley look, but then quickly got shadowy. So I started with three lights on the face, to create a triangle catchlight pattern in the eyes similar to one that Peter Hurley uses. Essentially I created a right triangle out of light modifiers with a two or three foot opening in the middle to shoot through. Bringing the subject close to the lights creates something of a big ring-light pattern with quick falloff on the face and catchlights that can be very striking. But in my opinion there is too much fill in the shadows when the subject’s face is surrounded by big lights so I tweaked the ratios between the three lights until there was a clear shadow pattern that creates dimension on the face. Camera left I used a large 5 foot octabox in a vertical position perpendicular to the subject’s face as the key light, with the power set about 3 stops brighter than the other two lights, which will act as fill and catchlights. Underneath the camera a few feet below the subject’s face is a 4 foot softbox pointing straight up at the ceiling, creating a right angle with the octabox key light, forming two sides of a right angle triangle. The third light acts as the hypotenuse of the right triangle, connecting the other two on a 45 degree angle. You can see each of the modifiers in the catchlights if you look closely, although the key light is most prominent. To finish off the look I added a silver reflector behind the subject out of frame to the camera right that creates the edge light you see on the camera right side of the subject’s face.  See more headshots, including tips for photographers by clicking here.

Thursday, December 17, 2015


One of the blessings of being a portrait photographer is making portraits of the people you love the most. All portraits are special but portraits of the people you love are priceless. These are my wife’s parents, Ma and Baba, and for going on six years now, they’re my parents too. They recently made their second trip to the US for Thanksgiving and they spent over a week in Billings Montana with us. I am very thankful that I got to spend about three hours with them in the studio and we made some beautiful portraits that my wife and her family and I will forever cherish. Ma and Baba are back in Hazaribagh India now, safe and sound. Thank you to everyone who made them feel welcome during their time here.

Everyone needs a professional headshot as part of their online presence these days! Your various online profile photos will be viewed thousands of times more than your actual face will be! If you’re in business, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than putting your best face forward and you only get that from a professional portrait photographer. Visit www.portraits.paulbellinger.com to book a headshot or portrait in Billings Montana.

Tips for photographers: Do you recognize this lighting technique? It’s the same as the last post. I mentioned that I use this lighting technique often because it’s so easy to set up and everyone always loves this look (especially women). I mentioned to Ma that these would be her favorites when we were shooting this look and sure enough, when it came time to pick her absolute favorite image from her sitting, this was her favorite. Read the last post here.

Monday, November 16, 2015


I promised on Instagram that I would show the color version of this photo on the blog so everyone can see Arley’s stunning blue eyes. She is really a Montana treasure, and such a joy to be around and work with. I can’t wait to work with her again soon on a fashion shoot that we are planning now. Thank you to Sydney Ross for hair, makeup and styling, as always, you are the best. We’re definitely trying to raise the bar for fashion photography in Montana. It’s not just flannel and cowboy boots in a field of grass. We’re inspired by the amazing fashion photography that is happening around the world right now, and we want to show that we can make high quality work in Billings Montana, or anywhere else in the world. Check back to for updates in early 2016! www.portraits.paulbellinger.com

Tips for photographers: This is one of my favorite window light setups. It’s a go to lighting technique to start the day with because it’s easy, starting with natural light always get’s your model relaxed, and this soft lighting is great for beauty shots, which you want to get out of the way right when the model comes out of hair and makeup. Arley is standing just in front of a large window, with a piece of white diffusion cloth over it. I am standing a few feet in front of her, and Sydney is holding a white styrofoam reflector in between Arley and I that you can clearly see in the catchlight in the bottom of her eye. Behind me is a pair of 4x8 foot white reflectors creating a beautiful soft fill light that is flattering for all skin types. I made this picture with the Sony A7 and Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 at f/2.8.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


Here’s another great example of a badass headshot that we’ve made recently! The dramatic lighting and bright eyes make for a very striking image that stands out from the crowd of boring headshots in Billings Montana. It may be a little too dramatic for some industries, but it’s great for actors, models, artists and anyone looking for an eye-catching edgy editorial portrait. It would also make a great professional portrait for anyone wanting to convey power with their headshots, such as lawyers, business managers and CEO’s. But the main point is that at Paul Bellinger Photography we can make a headshot or portrait that is unique just for you, so you will always stand out. Please get in touch with us if you haven’t updated your professional business portraits or corporate headshot in Billings Montana recently, we’d love to make something just for you. www.portraits.paulbellinger.com

Tips for photographers: We always make cool portraits and headshots whenever my friend and talented photographer Zak Jokela comes to town. We love to hang out in the studio and test different lighting setups. We never test out new lighting techniques on paying customers, so we have to do a lot of testing with models, friends, assistants, etc. to work out a new lighting technique before using it on clients.

This portrait was inspired by Martin Schoeller and the basics of the lighting setup are similar to his. The key light is a pair of 8ft strip boxes just a few feet in front of the subject and the camera is actually right in between the two strip boxes, which are parallel to each other a little more than shoulder distance apart, pointed directly at the subject. So you shoot this portrait standing in between a pair of strip boxes. Schoeller gets his lights very close to his subjects’ faces, and surrounds them in black so that the light falloff is deep and natural. We took it a step further by placing a pair of black flags in-between the strip boxes and Zak’s face to deepen the shadows on his cheeks and ears. It became our goal to silhouette the ears, because I guess we don’t like ears to be lit anymore (see my previous post here for more on that). One tradeoff for using these flags was that they cut into the strip boxes in the catchlights, making for narrower catchlights that what Schoeller usually achieves. Schoeller shoots very close to his subjects with a large format film camera, so the depth of field is usually shallow. We replicated that shallow depth of field by using the Sony-Zeiss 55mm at f/2.5 very close, nearly at minimum focal distance. The background is just a 4x8ft white reflector a few feet behind the subject. The falloff is so fast that you can make the background go black pretty easily too, but we liked having the gray background to create separation from Zak’s silhouette.

Monday, October 26, 2015


I love this portrait of Alysse and Dan on their wedding day in Bozeman Montana! A beautiful portrait is so timeless, and so powerful! Sadly, portraiture is a lost art in todays cell phone photo saturated world. So we decided to bring a portrait studio to a few weddings this summer and make some elegant portraits of our couples and their guests all dressed up and looking great. This portrait of Alysse and Dan is one of my favorites. Their wedding was at the Big Yellow Barn, so we set up the studio in one of the old stables! Adding our studio lighting with such a cool location really made for a unique set of portraits. Thank you to Alysse and Dan for an awesome wedding day and all of their family and friends for posing for us! Thanks also to Zak Jokela for assisting and second shooting this wedding with me!

The idea of a wedding day portrait studio is to make timeless portraits of the bride and groom, and their guests, looking their best, with beautiful lighting and posing from a skilled portrait photographer. It’s an elegant alternative to the wedding day photo booth. With the photo booth the concept is to look silly for snapshots (similar to cell phone photography), while our portraits are crafted for style, sophistication and a quality suitable for making printed photographs. It’s a unique experience for most guests because for most of them it will be one of the very few times they ever step into a serious portrait studio. After the wedding these portraits make great gifts for guests as well. Stay tuned to the blog for more wedding day portraits coming soon and get in touch with us at www.paulbellinger.com if you’re interested in having a portrait studio at your wedding reception.

Tips for photographers: The inspiration for setting up a nice portrait studio on location at an event came from the Vanity Fair Oscar Party portraits by Mark Seliger. I look forward to the portraits he does each year, and if you follow him on instagram you can find some behind the scenes photos and videos of the set and lighting that he uses. In this case we were limited by the size of the stable we were shooting in. We set up a large, 6-foot silver bounce umbrella in the stable next door camera left and covered it with a piece of white diffusion cloth so that it created a large soft light as our key light. The key light was just a foot or two above head height, as high as we could get it in the stable. For a fill light we used a 4-foot white bounce umbrella behind the camera to the left also above head height. By placing this light further away it creates an even fill, with little falloff compared to the key light that is closer to the subject. We also had two 4x8 foot white styrofoam reflectors out frame camera right for fill on the shadow side of the subjects. These 4x8 foot reflectors also prevented a color cast from the key light bouncing off the other side of the wooden stable.  It’s fun shooting these portraits because they have to go somewhat quickly, but yet still require thoughtful posing, so you’re working really hard and fast and for me that’s exciting.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Wow, there’s probably no prettier combination than a stunning bride in the mountains! Add in a gorgeous dress and the perfect bouquet and it’s a masterpiece. I’m very lucky to live in beautiful Montana, it seems like everything is prettier here! Of course I’m spoiled to also be surrounded by great people, Montanans and otherwise, that give me the opportunity to photograph them in epic locations. McKenzie and Tyrel’s Beartooth wedding at Emerald Lake was about as epic as you can get. They tied the knot with an intimate wedding on the dock surrounded by their closest family and Montana’s tallest mountains. This is just a sneak peek of the beautiful bride and her bouquet from Katie at Mac’s Floral, who totally outdid herself I must say. Stay tuned for more to come from this Beartooth Mountain wedding. For more information about my wedding photography please visit the Montana wedding photography website by clicking here.

I am lucky to be one of Montana’s most sought after wedding photographers and I am indebted to my amazing clients for trusting me to make the wedding artwork that will become one of their most cherished family heirlooms. The pictures that I make at weddings will be looked at for generations, perhaps forever, and that gives me a great responsibility as a wedding photographer that I take very seriously. In return I give my everything for each and every wedding. I will go anywhere and do anything to make the artwork of your dreams. How do you dream of being photographed? www.paulbellinger.com

Monday, October 19, 2015


I’m very happy to show these three portraits from a new series of fine art portraits. Portraiture is something of a lost art in Billings Montana, being a small city in a remote part of the country, our portraits usually consist of a person standing in a field, or on a gravel road somewhere in bright sunlight, smiling at the camera. But elsewhere in the world portraiture is thriving as an art that is far more complex and nuanced. Just look at any magazine rack and you’ll see diversely crafted portraits everywhere. Why? Because portraits are powerful, we make an immediate connection when we see a portrait. The goal of this portrait series is to show off the power of the portrait, to show that we can make fine art portraits in Billings Montana that are made with the same techniques that master portrait photographers are using around the world, and in doing so we can show Billings that we don’t have to settle for anything less. To schedule a portrait sitting please visit www.portraits.paulbellinger.com. Read on to learn about the inspiration and hard work that went into making these portraits.

Tips for photographers: Well I imagine this will become a long-winded story because it seems like I’ve been thinking about these photos for months now, and it took five sessions to get comfortable with the lighting setup and really start making portraits. It all started with Gregory Heisler’s book “50 portraits,” which I’ve been reading for almost a year every time I visit my friend and mentor Ken Jarecke, who always let’s me browse his library (as long as I wash my hands first). A couple of months ago I read about a portrait where Heisler was praising the use of a ring light to create a “shadowless” fill light (p. 86). I made a mental note of it, but didn’t rush out and buy a ring light or anything like that. Perhaps a month later I saw a portrait of Kareem Abdul Jabar by Dan Winters on twitter and it was so striking to me that I started an all out binge on everything Dan Winters I could get my hands on (look at my twitter feed @paulbellinger to find a retweet of the Kareem portrait). Of course Ken had Winters’ book “Road to Seeing,” so I spent a few hours with it before buying my own copy soon after. I noticed that for a lot of my favorite portraits, Winters often used a ring light too. There is a strobist.com post about Winters that has a behind the scenes video of Dan shooting Jack Nicklaus and even has quotes from Dan saying that he prefers to use the ring light mostly for the catch light it creates, and less for fill when possible (click here to view). I set about trying to replicate a Dan Winters look, specifically to achieve a similar lighting effect as seen in his portraits of Tom Hanks and Benedict Cumberbatch.

Monday, October 5, 2015


My brother in law Babu is awesome, so I thought it was only fitting to make him a badass headshot when he was in town this summer. A Badass Portrait (or Badass Headshot) is something new that I’ve been introducing to Billings Montana. One of Montana’s slogans is that “Montana is for Badasses,” so the badass portrait is one that made with an equal amount of badass as Montana itself. Really, it’s an editorial portrait that can take on many forms, whatever may be influencing me at the moment, or an idea that I come up with in response to a specific subject matter. This particular look for a headshot is inspired by Marco Grob, a renowned photographer who shoots a lot of magazine covers. So just think of your badass portrait as your very own cover photo. Book at www.portraits.paulbellinger.com

Tips for photographers: This is one of my favorite lighting techniques that I learned from studying the work of Marco Grob. I’ve written about the basics of the technique in the past here. The most important thing about this lighting technique is using a flag (black foam core in this case) to create a shadow on the same side of the face that the key light is coming from (camera right in this case). You can make the shadow hard or soft according to your taste, and you can make the shadow broad or narrow, but try to at least reduce the exposure on the ear. The key light in this case is a strip box very close to Babu, just out of the frame on the right. Two beauty dishes are behind Babu on 45 degree angles to create the kicker lighting. Other than that the set is closed off very tightly with black foam core to absorb any stray light and keep the shadows dark with very little light filling in the shadows.

I like shadowy portraits and I usually like short side Rembrandt lighting for that reason. And that’s fine, the flag doesn’t change much for short light Rembrandt lighting. But when the subject turns and broad lights themselves, the flag reigns them in by putting a shadow on the broad lit side of the face and obscuring the ear which could otherwise get brighter than the face depending on the lighting setup. Don't understand the difference between short light and broad light? Read about broad lighting here and short lighting here. This headshot of Babu is an example of broad lighting with the key light.

This was one of my favorite sessions because Babu is a great guy and part of my family, but he said something during the shoot that really stuck with me. Using flags on light stands makes a cluttered set and you have to constantly adjust them and the position of the subject to put the shadow right where you want it. It makes for a longer shoot than I’d normally prefer and would recommend using an assistant for that reason. But Babu said during the shoot that he thought it was really nice that I was fussing so much over the lighting and that “people must feel very important when they are photographed by you.” That was a great complement even from an obviously biased family member.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


I had the good fortune of going to London recently for a honeymoon shoot as part of Carrie and Jake’s wedding photography. We call it a honeymoon session, or a day after session, and we offer worldwide travel for these kinds of shoots, but this post is not about that. As usual, no matter where I go or why I am there, I always like to make personal photos along the way. I made these one night when my wife and I were at Picadilly Circus, scouting some nighttime locations for the upcoming shoot. I really enjoy shooting at night and searching out light to work with. I noticed these new ads for Rihanna’s Puma campaign and thought they would make a nice soft light for a night time portrait if the opportunity should arise. As I was looking around at all of the lighting options, soaking in this busy corner at night, I made a few frames of people passing by this Rihanna ad. Looking at the photos later found it striking that three different women all had similar hairstyles and were each carrying a purse on their shoulder in the same way. I think they go well together! And of course I’m a huge Rihanna fan.

Tips for photographers: Keep your camera with you all the time. Countless photographers have given me this advice, countless times, but it never fails to amaze me that the second I don’t have my camera something catches my eye to photograph. I have recently started switching from Canon to Sony for this very reason: my Canon is too big of a beast to carry around casually and I found myself shooting on my iphone more than anything. When I saw these new smaller mirrorless camera bodies for the first time I knew it was the answer to my problem of leaving my camera behind, and I quickly settled in on Sony as the brand of choice, specifically the A7 series of full frame cameras and Zeiss lenses. Now I have a very small kit with the Sony A7ii and a few Zeiss lenses that can go anywhere with me, and it’s the only camera I carry when I’m travelling overseas. Often I will simply grab my A7ii with a 35mm on it and go. I’m not saying you should switch cameras, but just do whatever it takes to keep a camera with you and be ready for pictures when they happen in front of you.

I am Paul Bellinger, one of Montana’s much sought after wedding photographers. My studio is located in downtown Billings Montana, and I am available for any wedding destination around the world. I put everything I have into making the wedding pictures of your dreams, and I’ll go anywhere and do anything to make those dreams come true. From the mountains to the islands, there is no wedding destination too far or too difficult for me and my team of wedding photographers. Get in touch with us at www.paulbellinger.com

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Wow, this was an awesome wedding from top to bottom. It was beautiful, unique, and so much fun for everyone in attendance. Alysse and Daniel definitely know how to throw a party in style. This is just one of the many jaw-dropping views at the Big Yellow Barn outside of Bozeman MT. Consider this a sneak peek of things to come. Special thanks to the bride and groom and all of their family and friends for being so cool, Meredith Curtin and her team for coordinating the day so wonderfully, and my army of one, Zak Jokela for shooting along side of me.

Tips for brides: This one is straight from Alysse and she coined this phrase. Instead of being "bride-zilla" just relax and be "bride-chilla"! Ha! I love that!

Paul Bellinger Photography is based in Billings Montana and specializes in epic, fine art, wedding photography. We are dedicated to making beautiful pictures and will go anywhere and do anything to make the wedding artwork of your dreams. Contact us for your destination wedding here: www.paulbellinger.com

Friday, September 25, 2015


This was a fun headshot to make for model/dancer/photographer Keoni, who is also a new assistant at Paul Bellinger Photography. Keoni has been helping out in the studio and frequently sits in to model for lighting tests so that everything is ready when clients arrive and they can be in and out quickly. Usually the night before a client shoot I will have Keoni come in to the studio and help me plan the shoot and set up the various lighting arrangements that I will use the next day. But sometimes we just like to experiment with new looks, such as this one, which was inspired from an actor headshot in Vanity Fair by photographer Cyrill Matter. This is a wonderful headshot look for people in creative professions, or anyone who wants a very soft and approachable look, and it works well with formal or informal clothing options. The lighting is crisp, yet the focus is soft, so it’s a very unique look that will stand out from the rest of the crowd. Visit www.portraits.paulbellinger.com to book a sitting in our downtown Billings Montana portrait studio.

Tips for photographers: The setup for this photo is inspired by a portrait of Gabriel-Kane Day-Lewis by Cyrill Matter in the September 2015 issue of Vanity Fair. Cyrill’s image is a crisp black and white with very shallow depth of field, big soft front lighting with quick falloff and a little bit of back lighting to highlight the edges of the actor’s face. I found the look to be very striking, and it was the most remarkable image in the issue to me, and so I bought a copy pretty much just for that one photo (the rest of the issue wasn’t that great in my opinion). The Day-Lewis portrait is the first image you see on Cyrill’s website here: www.cyrillmatter.com. The photo reminds me of a quote from David Bailey: “I just want very sophisticated passport pictures really - which are quite hard to do!" Mission accomplished Cyrill.

To replicate the look, my first thought was to use window light so that I could shoot at a wide aperture for shallow depth of field, and the catchlight in Cyrill’s portrait kind of looks like a window or a big soft box directly behind the photographer, slightly to the camera right to give just a touch of shadow on one side for added dimension. To create the edge light I used two silver reflectors behind Keoni out of frame on each side (I use the metallic side of the insulation Styrofoam you can get at a hardware store or lumber yard). The background is a 4x8 foot white reflector about two feet behind Keoni. I’ll post a bts setup selfie on instagram @PJBellinger if you’re curious to see. This photo was made with a Sony A7ii, Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens at f/2, 1/160th of a second and ISO 200.

Overall I like the look, it’s very clean and crisp, yet soft and unusual with the shallow depth of field that will certainly stand out of the corporate headshot crowd. It’s easy to setup and the shallow depth of field makes retouching a breeze. The one drawback is that shooting with such shallow depth of field makes getting the eyes sharp a little tricky, so you have to know how to focus your camera very accurately. For studio work I always use manual focus with the focus peeking feature and manual focus assist on the Sony A7ii, which essentially zooms in on the image in the electronic viewfinder so you can check focus very accurately, especially when the eyes light up with focus peeking. I really like this feature and it’s fun to shoot in manual and it’s also fun to nail the focus every time. These features are some of the main perks of having an electronic viewfinder.

Monday, September 21, 2015


I love to travel and I love to make portraits of the people I meet along the way. It’s always special, but these portraits are extra special because this is my grand Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Ken. Aunt Bonnie is my grandpa’s sister, the aunt of my dad and his siblings. She’s always lived in Alaska since I’ve known her and we don’t see her very often as a result, even though she’s always been special because she’s the much younger and better looking only sister of my grandpa and their brother. Bonnie and Ken graciously hosted my cousin and I on our great Alaskan roadtrip when we were in Fairbanks for a day and a half, showing us some warm Alaskan hospitality. They gave us the family treatment, complete with hot breakfasts for two mornings and two hot showers each. It was a relief after driving relentlessly for just over 4 days. They shared some fantastic stories about my grandpa and my dad’s generation, and they made time to sit for me briefly before taking us out to dinner. I’m very happy to have been able to make these portraits of my family and these portraits will always remind me of the importance of having beautiful photos of the people you love, and I’ll never take it for granted. Thank you for sitting for me Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Ken, and thanks for the hospitality you showed us!

Tips for photographers: These photos are lit using window light with no modifiers of any kind. The room was basically white, but we closed all of the other windows and doors and there was enough distance behind the subject for the light to falloff into black. This was only possible because I made the falloff extremely fast by placing the subject as close to the light source as possible, which was basically in my lap. Yes these were intimate portraits in more ways than one. Looking back at these photos I noticed they looked a little different, with Ken’s having more contrast and detail and Bonnie’s being a little softer. The apertures are 2.8 for Ken and 2.2 for Bonnie, so I thought that was it. But then I noticed that I actually changed lenses between these two portraits (which seems crazy remembering how fast these were made), using the Zeiss 55mm 1.8 for Ken and the Zeiss Loxia 35mm 2 for Bonnie. The differences are pretty obvious so I’ll just leave it up to you to decide which look you prefer. www.portraits.paulbellinger.com

Sunday, September 20, 2015


If you’re going to drive to Alaska there is pretty much only one way in and one way out, and that’s the Alaska Highway from the Yukon Territories of Canada. After passing the huge St. Elias Mountains of Kluane National Park in the Yukon, you’re greeted by the Nutzotin Mountains just across the border in Alaska (pictured here). If it’s a clear day you can also see the massive Wrangell Mountains further in the distance behind the Nutzotin, but they weren’t visible when we arrived. Be warned, the Alaska highway is pretty rough for the last few hours in the Yukon and flat tires are common. We managed to make it just across the border into Alaska before getting our only flat tire of the 14 day trip. It was sprinkling and there was a beautiful sunset on the horizon, so naturally I photographed the sunset while my esteemed colleague, driver and cousin Chris (aka C-Unit) changed the tire. We were in need of a break from the road anyway and I ended up making a few of my favorite photos from the entire trip, so thank you tire gods! And thanks to Chris for being the craziest and best driver a photographer could ever hope to have.

Tips for photographers: This is a three image panorama that I photographed handheld from the road. I know that sounds bad right?! How lazy! But I’ve increasingly turned into a roadside landscape photographer, using a long lens to pick out landscapes from the road like a poacher dropping big game from a truck. Wow that doesn’t sound like a good comparison! We were on the road for two weeks during this trip, and we did a lot of run and gun, pull over and shoot stops. I know this is not a recipe for success. To make a great landscape photo usually requires hard work to get to an epic location, and then patience to wait for the light, two things that take a lot of time that we did not have. So what was the end result? Well I made at least one good photo this way, and I’m sure I’ll find a few others, but those are far and few between. Chances are, if you’re shooting from the road, with no tripod, you’re not going to make anything very special unless you get lucky.

I am Montana based wedding and portrait photographer Paul Bellinger. I love to travel and our motto at Paul Bellinger Photography is that we will go anywhere and do anything for our clients. There is no wedding too big, too small, or too far for us to travel for, and we’ll gladly make your portrait on top of a mountain as well. Please visit www.paulbellinger.com for destination weddings in Montana or anywhere in the world, and www.portraits.paulbellinger.com for our portrait studio in Billings Montana.

Monday, August 31, 2015


Meeting new people is one of my favorite things about travel and of course I tend to meet a lot of photographers. I met Ilan on a day cruise from Valdez Alaska to the Meares glacier in the Prince William Sound. For long portions of the cruise we had the whole bow of the boat to ourselves, as only photographers want to be out there in the wind and cold (although it wasn’t very cold, there was a guy wearing only shorts and T-shirt who toughed it out most of the day too). We hit it off and were chatting most of the day about photography and travel, and when the cruise was over I told him where we were headed for sunset/camp for the night in case he wanted to meet up and shoot the sunset with us. We went our separate ways and I thought I had seen the last of Ilan as we headed up Thompson Pass to photograph the sunset. It was a beautiful sunset, and when it was nearly over I saw someone pull up and start quickly hiking towards us. It was Ilan! He missed most of the sunset because he spotted some bears on the way up and photographed them for a bit. I was mostly done shooting the sunset so I just hung out and made a few pictures of Ilan while he made a few pictures the mountains and the rising moon. It was a fun day hanging with Ilan and I really hope our paths cross again on a future adventure. Thanks Ilan!

Tips for photographers: These photos were made after the sun went down during blue hour. I say blue hour, but during Alaskan summers blue hour lasts for hours, almost all night depending on where you are. In the top photo you can see eye to eye with the majestic Chugach Mountains surrounding Thompson pass. The Chugach are a very picturesque range, which are especially dramatic from Valdez at sea level. The bottom photo features a very bright moon on it’s way up during moonrise. Summers in Alaska are great for photographers because the sunset lasts for hours and there is plenty of light in the sky to make blue hour long exposures all night long. The one drawback is that the sky is so bright with sun and moon light that it’s difficult to see the stars or do any kind of astrophotography, which is kind of a shame because there is a lot of aurora activity that far North.

I really enjoy making photos like these that combine two of my passions in photography, the drama of the landscape and the power and prestige of the portrait. I have a deep respect for nature and can’t ever stop exploring the natural wonders of the world (especially mountains). But landscapes are lonely without people in them and to make a portrait in the special places that people go through such great efforts to reach only enhances the power of the portrait. That’s why travel is such an integral part of Paul Bellinger Photography, we want to go to the places that are special to our clients and make pictures that simply cannot be made anywhere else. For destination weddings in Montana or anywhere in the world, please visit Montana wedding photographer www.paulbellinger.com. For the hardest working portrait photographer in Montana please visit Billings Montana portrait photographer www.portraits.paulbellinger.com.

Saturday, August 29, 2015


McKenzie and Tyrel are having a mountain wedding and wanted a mountain engagement session to go with it. Since they are getting married in West Rosebud, we did the engagement shoot in East Rosebud. Both sides have beautiful views of the Beartooth mountains that can rival mountain views anywhere. The Eastern side of the Beartooths are kind of a Billings area secret paradise that not many tourists visit. The motto of the nearest town, Roscoe Montana, is: “Where the hell is Roscoe?” How cool is that?! I can’t wait to get back and spend a few days in the Beartooths for McKenzie and Tyrel’s mountain wedding in October!

Tips for brides: It’s time to start booking your wedding photographer for 2016 weddings in Montana. We typically book about a 8-12 months in advance of a wedding and the fall seems to be the booking season when a lot of the best wedding days get booked. Because the wedding season is short in Montana, summer Saturdays go fast, and it’s not just the best photographers, but all of the best wedding venues and wedding vendors book up early in Montana. Personally I find the fall to be the most beautiful time of year in Montana, so you might think about avoiding the crowds and push your luck into September, October and even November for a more adventurous Montana wedding. Some vendors may even offer a discount for booking a wedding date in the fall/winter/spring. It also seems like we have a shortage of wedding venues in the Billings Montana area, so I highly recommend thinking outside of the box like McKenzie and Tyrel have, and having a mountain wedding, because there is no shortage of mountain meadows that would make for a unique and jaw dropping wedding location. Please contact us if you’re interested! We love mountain weddings at Paul Bellinger Photography! www.paulbellinger.com

Friday, August 28, 2015


Congratulations to Carrie and Jake on their black-tie wedding in Billings Montana! Carrie did a wonderful job planning the big day and it went off without a hitch, bringing together two awesome families in a celebration of love and the start of a new family. I love the contrast in this image between the rustic scene on Jake's family farm and their black tie look. I am blessed that they shared this most special of occasions with me and the team at Paul Bellinger Photography. Thank you Carrie, Jake and all of the family and friends that helped make the day so special!

Thank you also to my team of incredible photographers Jenna Masters, Trevan Hiersche for your hard work. For Montana wedding photographer Paul Bellinger please visit www.paulbellinger.com.

I can’t wait to meet up with Carrie and Jake for a photo shoot on their honeymoon in London! I’ll be in London for 7 days, and of course I’ll be photographing everything. We travel a lot at Paul Bellinger Photography and you can follow along on instagram by following @PJBellinger or click the link: https://instagram.com/pjbellinger/

Monday, August 24, 2015


Montana is an amazing place, and as impressive as the big sky is in the day, it’s even more magical at night. I recently made a huge road trip to Alaska, and despite seeing so many beautiful places in Alaska, Yukon Territories and British Columbia, Montana was still impressive when we returned home. After watching the sun go down outside of Glacier National Park, we stopped near Belt Montana to view the Milky Way and make a few pictures. We really wanted to make some star photos on our trip but it became more and more difficult the further North we went, because the sun doesn’t really go down very far in the summer and there is too much light in the sky to see the stars. But Montana saved the day on our last night of the road trip and gave us a spectacular view of the Milky Way practically from the highway. Wow, it’s awesome to call Montana home!

Tips for photographers: Photographing the night sky is fun and it’s something every photographer should go out and do sometime. There is a lot written about astrophotography and you can get the impression that it’s difficult, or requires special gear and techniques. I found it pretty easy, even using pretty bad glass for night photography. I made this photo with a Canon 17-40 f/4 L lens and Sony A7ii camera body. A faster lens, f/2.8 or wider, would be ideal for night photography, but I was able to make do with f/4 because the sky was especially bright in Montana. The best tip I can give is to use a really heavy duty tripod that won’t blow around in the wind during 5-15 second exposures and is easy to operate in the dark. It helps a lot if your tripod is really tall too, so you can see what you’re doing without bending over all night. More than anything, just go out and try it with whatever gear you have, it’s a lot of fun!

I am Montana wedding photographer Paul Bellinger and I love to travel for weddings. I go anywhere and do anything for our clients. There is no wedding too big or too small, and no wedding destination that is too remote or extreme for us. My studio is located in downtown Billings Montana and it would be my honor to photograph your Montana wedding or destination wedding anywhere in the world. Visit www.paulbellinger.com for dramatic, fine art wedding photography as epic as your love story.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Alysse and Daniel have raised the bar on engagement sessions! They are just so badass as people that I guess they couldn’t help but have an amazing shoot at their Bozeman home surrounded by mountains and farm animals, and then topped that by heading into the Bridger mountains and a beautiful alpine lake. Thank you Alysse and Daniel for hanging with me and showing me your special spots! I can’t wait for your Bozeman wedding! Stay tuned for more from this epic shoot soon.

Awesome people in awesome locations! That should probably be our motto at Paul Bellinger Photography because our couples love going to badass locations and we will go anywhere and do anything with them to make the best wedding and engagement pictures possible. We are located in Billings Montana and offer worldwide travel for engagement sessions, destination weddings, and honeymoon sessions. www.paulbellinger.com

Friday, August 14, 2015


Happy birthday to my little cousin Christopher! We just got back from an epic road trip from Billings MT to Alaska. I jokingly refer to him as my little cousin because he’s younger and used to be smaller than me, but he’s a beast and has been about 5 inches taller than me since college. He was a big 50 Cent fan in high school and had the license plate C-UNIT in reference to 50’s G-UNIT. My dad has called him C-Unit ever since, so it’s kind of a nickname now! Ha! Chris did almost all of the driving on our huge road trip to Alaska and he really assisted me a lot in making some awesome landscape and nature photos. He caught me taking trying to make portraits of him every now and then, and he went along with it. We took my Nissan Frontier and slept in the back each night at an amazing location like this spot on Thompson Pass just North of Valdez Alaska. It required some pretty sweet driving to reach this spot and Chris did it without getting a flat tire. Thanks for everything Chris, that was a once in a lifetime trip and we totally dominated it!

Tips for photographers: Throughout the trip we were joking that our trip should be sponsored by Nissan because we were putting this truck through long grueling stretches of miles, really rough road conditions, and into some of the most beautiful settings you can imagine. The truck was our home, we slept in the bed of the truck under the topper each night and thanks to the extended bed on the truck it was perfectly comfortable and made us feel safer about being in remote locations with bears. But if we really had a Nissan sponsorship and support, we could have put the truck in much more precarious positions and even more epic photos. But since I rely on the truck for my photography business, I couldn’t risk it most of the time. In this photo I would have liked to have the truck up a little further but there were really jagged rocks everywhere I didn’t want to risk a flat tire, which would have been difficult to change on the rocks. It was an awesome place to sleep for the night though, and the truck handled everything we threw at it on this trip. More photos and tips about shooting in Alaska soon.

My portrait studio is based in Billings Montana but I am available to travel anywhere in the world to make amazing portraits at beautiful locations or in a studio. My team and I will go anywhere and do anything to make the best portraits. www.portraits.paulbellinger.com

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Meet Shylo, one of the most prolific graffiti artists in Billings’ new graffiti alley behind Good Earth Market and Pug Mahon’s. Shylo is unique in the world of graffiti for being a Christian graffiti artist who regularly paints religious themed artwork such as the “Snakebird” piece featured here and a number of murals for churches across the country. We’re lucky that Shylo has recently decided to move to the Billings area and will soon be blessing the region with more amazing graffiti. Stay tuned for more photos featuring this artist’s work soon.

I love making portraits of artists! It’s an honor when another artist trusts me to make a portrait for them, and even more so when I can feature their work or workspace in an environmental portrait. Contact us at Paul Bellinger Photography for your portrait! www.portraits.paulbellinger.com

Tips for photographers: This photo was made outside on a cloudy day and is lit with one light, a large silver bounce umbrella high to the camera left. I like working with bounce umbrellas because unlike a shoot through umbrella, which spills light everywhere, a bounce umbrella is easy to control the direction of light. The key to the light placement in this photo is the angle and direction to create a Rembrandt pattern on Shylo’s face and the ratio of light on Shylo versus the mural in the background. The light is about 5 feet away from Shylo, which is further than I would normally place a light for portraiture (depending on what I’m going for, but I like it close and soft with dramatic falloff in general). I chose to put the light further away than I normally prefer because if it were too close the falloff would be too quick and there wouldn’t be enough light on the background (of course I could drag the shutter to let some ambient light up the background, but that’s not the route I took because I was shooting handheld and wanted the mural to be in sharp focus). I'll be posting a BTS photo of the setup on instagram soon so be sure to follow @PJBellinger.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Kalli and Bridger’s big day went off like a fairytale complete with prince charming, a princess and a castle. It was a big wedding at St. Thomas and featured some of the best wedding vendors in the state of Montana under the helm of coordinator Patricia Clark. But like most fairytales, at the center of this big day was something incredibly simple: a true and passionate love. I have had the honor of being able to spend a couple of weeks with Kalli and Bridger, and I find their young love and positive outlook on life to be so refreshing and so simple. They’re in love and nothing is going to stop them! Thank you Kalli, Bridger and all of their family and friends for sharing your precious time with me!

Thank you to all of the vendors that made this amazing wedding into the fairytale that it was.

Designer/Coordinator – Patricia Clark (visit Pat’s website here for links to all vendors)
Floral – Mac’s Floral
Decorator – Moments in Time
Hair and Makeup – Sammie Semmler
Lighting – DiA Events
Wedding cake – Jayne’s Signature Sweets
Rentals – Party Time Plus
Venue – St. Thomas Catholic Church and Lonewolf Energy
Ceremony music – Stillwater Symphony
Reception band – Bucky Beaver Band
Carriage/Limo/Trolley – Total Transportation

Thank you also to my team of incredible photographers Jenna Masters, Trevan Hiersche for your hard work. For Montana wedding photographer Paul Bellinger please visit www.paulbellinger.com.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Hyalite Canyon and all of its peaks, lakes, streams and waterfalls, are special for Carrie and Jake. It was their retreat while attending MSU Bozeman where they met and fell in love. Now it’s only 10 days until their wedding in Billings Montana and after that we’ll be meeting up for a shoot in London on their honeymoon. Thank you for sharing your special places and moments with us Carrie and Jake!

It’s an honor to share in people’s special places and moments and it’s something we have always been passionate about at Paul Bellinger Photography. That’s why we’re willing to go anywhere and do anything to make the images that are special for our clients, including worldwide travel. There is no wedding too large, too small, too remote, or too uncommon for us. From the beaches to the mountains, we approach every shoot with the same level of determination to make the best images possible. Being located in Billings Montana gives us special access to the mountains, and mountain weddings are a specialty for us, but we also have an airport, passports and a love for world travel. So where will your love story lead us? www.paulbellinger.com

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Introducing the badass headshot. This is a headshot that is reserved for bosses. It conveys only one clear and simple message: I am a badass.  It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, everybody wants to hire a badass. Available in Billings Montana only at Paul Bellinger Photography. www.portraits.paulbellinger.com

This portrait has been a labor of love and it turned out badass if I may say so myself. Zak and I put about two months into learning this lighting technique and we fine-tuned it in the studio over six sessions. Thanks to Kenneth Jarrecke for challenging us to master this light. Thanks to all of the people that posed during test sessions, we will drop those portraits here on the blog as they are ready. Thanks to Zak for putting in hours and expertise on this. We’re going to keep pushing and raising the bar for portraits and headshots in Billings Montana.

Tips for photographers:

This photo was inspired by the portraiture of Marco Grob, after Kenneth Jarrecke showed me some of Grob’s work on twitter and sort of challenged me to light like Grob. Specifically this photo is inspired by a portrait that Grob made of Robert Downey Jr., because a lot of people say Zak looks like him. After a lot of hours studying Grob’s work, what we learned was more than just a lighting setup, it is a framework for working with the light that can be versatile. The idea is to add shadows to the highlight side of a Rembrandt, closed loop lighting pattern. Using a black piece of foam core as a flag, we put a shadow on the highlight side of the face, camera right in this case. You can also add a flag above to put a shadow across the forehead as well, something I wish we had done. It sounds very simple, one light, one or two flags to add shadows, and you can add kicker lights on the back side as we’ve done here too. But the trickiness comes in with the main light and the flag, and how close and at what angle to use the flag to add shadow right where you want it. The further the flag is from the light, the harder the shadow will be. You can also change the shadows by moving the main closer or farther from the subject. We prefer bringing the main light very close so that there is a dramatic falloff on the shadow side the highlights are very soft from the close light. For this photo we used a large, 7x1 foot strip box about two feet from Zak’s face. We used a pair of beauty dishes behind and on each side of the subject at 45 degree angles to create the edge lighting (also called rim lighting or backlighting). But the portrait looks cool without those extra lights and you can use reflectors instead of beauty dishes for a more subtle edge (click here to see a portrait without kicker lights, also inspired by Grob). Once you understand the basic framework it’s easy to experiment from there and adjust for the specific subject in front of you.