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Thursday, April 30, 2015


It’s heating up around here and that means we’re gearing up to head for the mountains this spring and summer.  Reports are coming in that roads are opening up, giving us easy access to beautiful mountains for spring engagement sessions.  I can’t wait to get up to East and West Rosebud to see what the winter has left behind for us.  This photo is from Melissa and Jeremey’s beautiful wedding at Emerald Lake, West Rosebud that was featured in Montana Bride Magazine.  I can’t get enough of this area of the Beartooth mountains and will scout the area several times to prepare for a season of shooting up there.  I am so grateful to be able to call this beautiful land my home and spend the summer documenting mountain love stories!

I am Montana wedding photographer Paul Bellinger and I photograph mountain weddings and destination weddings of all shapes and sizes, from the mountains to the beaches.  I specialize in dramatic, fine art wedding photography that is worthy of being called your first family heirloom.  I am located in Billings Montana and available for any wedding destination.  It would be my honor to photograph your wedding.  www.paulbellinger.com

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


I’m excited to offer a modern approach to corporate headshots and business portraits that looks amazing and is very convenient for businesses to upgrade the entire team, including the group photo.  The Rocky Mountain College Enactus team wanted professional portraits and headshots for each member, and a group photo go along with it.  But as any business knows, assembling the whole team in one place is inconvenient and time consuming.  So I took a modern approach and made portraits of each individual conveniently scheduled at their own time and later combined the individual portraits into a group photo. Our theme was based on the Netflix original show “House of Cards,” to make the group look serious, professional, and powerful.  Each team member was posed with the group photo in mind so that we could execute the theme and make a realistic group portrait.  The result is very striking, and very unique for Billings Montana.  Thank you to the RMC Enactus team for thinking outside of the box and entrusting me with your professional portraits.

There are several benefits for businesses that choose to go with this modern approach to their corporate headshots and professional portraits that also produces an outstanding group photo.  First, the photo simply looks better than your typical group photo, as each person is lit perfectly and posed privately without distractions from other group members.  We can even execute a theme, shooting specifically with a group pose in mind (in this case the theme was based on the Netflix original show “House of Cards,” to make the group look powerful). Second, the entire team will have consistent looking portraits, conveying the highest level of professionalism for your business. Third, it’s much faster, as every person in the group doesn’t have to pose perfectly at the exact same time, which requires many takes to get right when everyone is in the same room.  Fourth, it’s very easy to update, if more people are added to the team you don’t have to get everyone together all over again and you can kill two birds with one stone by having the new team members upgrade their individual headshots while also updating the group photo.  If people leave the team it’s easy to remove them from the group photo too.  For more info visit www.portraits.paulbellinger.com.

Tips for photographers:

I’ve posted a behind the scenes photo of the lighting setup for this photo on Instagram @PJBellinger and I discussed other lightingtechniques here.  I learned a lot during this shoot, but I feel like the compositing was pretty straightforward.  It’s never going to be easy, but if you know what you’re going for in the final image you can shoot it accordingly.  I knew I wanted a black background, so shooting on black made it easy to blend each individual portrait together and into the background.  Keeping it dark and shadowy also made it easier to hide the sloppiness of my mask edges, which meant I could do the masking quickly.  If the business wanted to be able to put them on any colored background I would need more precise masks and it would be easier with a white or gray background where there is more separation between subject and background. But make sure to get your exposures right, because separating blown highlights from a white background is impossible guesswork. In that sense there is no substitute for good photography in the first place.  This isn’t a perfect execution, as of course the posing could always be better and I was backed into a corner on which poses would work with the overall photo and the theme, even if I felt there were stronger poses for the individual.  But I am happy with the execution of the concept from start to finish.

Monday, April 27, 2015


I love Billings Montana. No it’s not my hometown, which will always be Omaha Nebraska, but Billings is my home now, and I couldn’t be more grateful to live in this beautiful place.  Billings doesn’t get enough credit.  It’s often overlooked as merely a place to fly into, or gear up before heading off to Western Montana where all of the mountains and beautiful national parks and forests are located. Even the city slogan “Montana’s Trailhead” implies that Billings is just a convenient starting point and not the final destination.  Granted, few places on earth can stand out from the long shadows cast by Yellowstone and Glacier national parks, and being relatively close to those places is what attracted my wife and I to Billings in the first place. But Billings is it’s own place, and has it’s own charm that goes beyond it’s proximity to beautiful places. 

Billings the biggest city in Montana and it’s the only city in Montana that really feels like a city and not a college town or resort community. It actually has a city culture, complete with all the hustle and bustle that Montana can offer. It has a real downtown, where business goes down, and not just shopping like some of the more touristy downtowns of Montana. It’s a beer town.  Downtown Billings has 6 micro-breweries and two distilleries, with more popping up across the city.  There is a great food culture to go with all of our beer too, with everything from artisan fine dining, to street food, and a massive seasonal farmer’s market.  There are several ethnic restaurants, including Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, Thai and Montana’s only Indian restaurant.

Beyond food and commerce, the natural geography of Billings is quite pretty too.  In this photo you can see downtown Billings and the Yellowstone river valley behind it, followed by the Pryor Mountains even further in the distance.  To the West we have a view of the Beartooth Mountains, while the North and East are encircled by the cliffs of the Billings Rims.  The weather is mild, sitting in a bowl that borders on arid prairie and badlands to the East and the Rocky Mountains on the West, we’re sheltered from the extremes.  For all of these reasons and more, it’s no wonder that the population of Billings is growing fast, attracting over twice as many newcomers per year than any other city in Montana.  I was sold on Billings right away just because of the proximity to the Beartooth Mountains, Yellowstone, Glacier, and all of the mountain wilderness of the West.  But the city of Billings has grown on me too and I don’t think there’s any other place I’d rather live in Montana.  www.paulbellinger.com

Thursday, April 9, 2015


This is one of my favorite photos of Kalli and Bridger engulfed by the lush colors of Maui, Hawaii.  I love the eye contact and expression from Kalli, she looks like the goddess of the garden!  Maui is filled with flowers and romance, so these two madly in love amidst the flowers just sums up Maui perfectly for me.  Of course Maui is also all about beaches, seafood and cold beverages, but that’s too much for one photo!  Thank you Kalli and Bridger for an amazing time in Maui, and I can’t wait for the wedding in June!  See more from our trip to Maui here.

Looking at this photo I’m feeling blessed to be a Montana wedding photographer right now!  I’m very thankful that my first year in Montana has treated me so well.  I was lucky to photograph some amazing weddings and travel to many beautiful locations around Montana and beyond.  Thank you to everyone who has helped me reach this point and I look forward to what this year has in store for us.  www.paulbellinger.com.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Shadya is a smart woman!  She’s getting a jump start on her career while she’s still in college, using a professional headshot to help apply for internships and job interviews.  There is no substitute for a high quality headshot to market yourself in today’s digital age.  Recent studies have shown that quality matters when it comes to photos that people relate to.  People can tell the difference between professional and amateur photos 90% of the time, and are more than twice as likely to interact with a professional photo (click here for the study).  A good headshot can speak volumes in a split second, and in the digital world where decisions are made quickly, what your headshot says about you could make a crucial difference.  Good headshots are hard to come by in a smaller city like Billings Montana, it seems to be a lost art form here, leaving the general public to settle for average or below average headshots that are less impactful for their businesses.  But this is a blessing for people who invest in a high quality professional headshot now, because it will certainly stand out from the crowd in this market.

Here at Paul Bellinger Photography we are committed to the art of portraiture, offering the highest quality portrait and headshot experience in Billings. Contact us to schedule your studio session today (we can usually accommodate last minute and same day bookings with two hours of notice).  www.portraits.paulbellinger.com

Tips for photographers:
How is the first portrait lit?  Can you see for yourself?  Deciphering light is a critical skill for photographers and you should be able to replicate almost any lighting techniques you can see.  But you’ll never learn if you don’t try and figure it out for yourself!  In the first photo the main light is obviously coming from camera right based on the highlight on the left side of Shadya’s face.  It must be a big light source because it’s very soft.  There is also a highlight on the right (camera left) side of Shadya’s face, so there is clearly a soft light source camera left as well.  Be sure to check the catchlights in her eyes for and idea of where the lights are placed.  Have it figured out yet?  The main light is a large window out of frame camera right and the second light source is a large 4x8’ reflector out of frame camera left to bounce some of the window light back onto the shadow side of Shadya’s face.  This is my go to lighting technique because it looks good on everyone!  The light is soft, which is flattering for all skin types, and because the light is coming from the side it has a directional quality that provides dimension to the face with very soft shadows.  It’s a very forgiving lighting setup and when I don’t have a window I use a large softbox very close to the subject to replicate the soft window light.  The larger and closer the light source you can create, the softer the light will be, whether you use a window or a studio strobe.

How is the second portrait lit?  You tell me!  There are three lights.  I'll put an iPhone photo of the lighting setup on instagram @PJBellinger.  For more photography tips on the blog click here.