All posts by willie

CoBank Annual Report Cover

I got a call from Watermark Advertising and they needed a cover photo for the CoBank Annual Report. They had an idea and an old vintage image that they needed to work off of and a new image needed to match the old one showing the connection from the past into the future.


It was late in the season and harvesting was over so I turned to my friend Stephen who connected me with his step-dad Kenny Carpenter of KC Farms in Monte Vista, CO. Stephen and I drove down there and Kenny went out and plowed the lines in an empty field. We drove a pickup out into the field right as the sun was setting and I climbed a ladder in the back of the pickup to get the proper height to match the angle of the original photo.


CB 47856_lr2

Luckily it all worked out and we got it very close. After getting that shot we shot some closer portrait shots of Kenny at his tractor.

CB 47959_lr2

CB 47969_lr

The awesome team at Watermark then took the image and made it all work!




“We Can” Ad Campaign

Late last year I went out to Craig and Meeker, Colorado to photograph some portraits of some of the local people affected by the proposed closure of the Colowyo Mine in Northwest Colorado. The campaign works to educate the public about the benefits and value of energy production in the region. The theme of the effort is that, as a region, we can. We can sustain our economy, we can protect the environment and we can power our future.

TS 51071_lr TS 51234_lr TS 51257_lr TS 51384_lr TS 51507_lr TS 51530_lr TS 51586_lr TS 51631_lr TS 51762_lr TS 51820_lr TS 51926_lr TS 51963_lr TS 52020_lr

We Can1

We Can2

We Can3

Stormtroopers (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

I was very excited to get the call from Scientific Galaxian to photograph their cover story on the new First Order Stormtroopers.  With the First Order’s advances across the galaxy, the magazine wanted to shoot in the desert of Jakku for it’s symbolic connection to the fall of the Empire. My assistant Josh and I jumped on a freighter to the planet and scouted the area. We loved the infamous star destroyer remains and knew that had to be the place to go. We also needed to get some seamless shots so we set up in the hotel room outside the small village we stayed in.

Josh got to try on an extra helmet for our light test.

test 50957

The troopers themselves were really cool, named FN-2187 and TK-1478, though we weren’t allowed to photograph them out of uniform.

New Trooper 51002_rt

New Trooper 51021_lr

Our second day we headed out at dusk to the Star Destroyer site. It was a tricky shot to get as we didn’t have much time to get the remnants of the sunset while still being dark enough for a star field.  Luckily everything worked out perfectly. Unfortunately we needed to shoot the TIE fighters separately and add them in post.

New Trooper 50981_lr

Thanks again to Camie who brought us in on this great project! Final layouts are below.

Storm spread-01

Storm spread-02

Storm spread-03

Happy Star Wars Day. May the Force be with you!

Read also: Darth Vader Photo Shoot

Photos with Rose Namajunas

Earlier this summer I got the chance to meet and photograph UFC Fighter Rose Namajunas for UFC Magazine. We had a good time and was able to get some cool shots but talked right after about meeting up again and just trying to get a bunch more cool shots and pushing the boundaries a bit more. A couple of months passed and we kept in touch then one night I got a text from Pat Barry, Rose’s fiancé and fight partner. In ancipatoon of Rose’s upcoming match and tiring of her hair getting in the way of training, she went and cut it all off! Of course this excited me even more knowing we could really get some cool looks now. I was scheduled to leave town, but I had one free night to get some cool images. Luckily all-star makeup artist Kari Kisch, who also worked with me on the magazine was game work with us and to push everything much farther than we did before. I set up a makeshift studio in my garage and we just started experimenting.



We started out with some more clean looks.

UFC Rose Redux 48662_lr

UFC Rose Redux 48699_lr

Then we switched our focus to some action fight poses and we got a visitor to the set.

UFC Rose Redux48830

UFC Rose Redux 48758_lr


After we got some great shots with this setup I wanted to really experiment and pulled out the smoke machine, some gels and Kari turned the makeup into Mad Max dystopia levels.

UFC Rose Redux 48900_lr

UFC Rose Redux 48942_lr

UFC Rose Redux 48972_lr

UFC Rose Redux 48998_lr

I had a blast shooting and all of the images have been very well received so I’m calling this whole experiment a win. Everything was shot on my Phase One P40+ with Profoto B1s for lighting.


Art Directors Club Award

I was honored to win an award from the Art Directors Club of Denver for photography for the Tri-State Work of Power Campaign. Thanks to Amy and Melissa for bringing me on to work on the project and for the whole team (Josh, Ryan, Evan, many others) for making all these shots happen!


In honor of this, here are a few newer shots from the ongoing campaign.

Tri State Mark II 418442_lr

Tri State 45193_lr

Tri State III 44008_lr


Tri-State G&T Ad Campaign

This is going to be a long post so buckle up. This spring I got a call from Melissa from Tri-State Generation and Transmission about a new ad campaign they were looking to shoot. The campaign was focused on “Power” the friendly robot “visual representation of the work that electricity does in our everyday lives.”  Power was going to be shot in various businesses to raise awareness of how much we rely on electricity, something that can be easily taken for granted these days. This sent us on an odyssey crossing four states (Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Nebraska) and 15 shooting locations ranging from hanging off a chair lift in Telluride to a cattle ranch in Nebraska and a spa in Wyoming. The biggest challenge was at each location we knew very little going in and had to figure out the best shot and lighting on the fly each time. Luckily we assembled an amazing crew that was up to the task every time.

Thanks to the great Evan Swinehart who was the video component to our team and put together this behind the scenes reel. Unfortunately most of the shoot I was getting over a cold and sound like a dying toad:

One of our first stops was at the Fox Theatre in Montrose, CO which is a charming old cinema built in 1929. We wanted to get Power in the seats watching a movie but the theater was in use. We had about 15 minutes between showings that we could do the shot. Once the movie ended and credits started rolling everyone ran into the theater to find the perfect spot and get lighting right. This one was lit with 2 Profoto B1s and 2 Lumopro speedlights 3 of which were gelled with blue doggy bags from Walmart (since I forgot my pack of gels). Everyone got into place and we ended up finishing up before time was done. Making his first cameo here is Ryan, who had the honor of wearing the Power suit.

Tri State 37218_lr

After that shot we set up outside to get the marquee lights all lit up. Super assistant Josh was standing in for the lighting test while helping set up the light AND holding the tether computer.

Photo Mar 16, 1 25 30 PMThe next day had us shooting in beautiful Telluride, CO. We started off at the Telluride Brewing Company then “Baked in Telluride” bakery before heading up to the slopes.  Our original idea was to get power peeking out of the window of a gondola but once we got in a gondola we saw that the shot we wanted wasn’t possible under the current circumstances. We then shifted our focus to the chairlifts. Could we get a guy dressed in a robot suit onto a chairlift? Luckily the people at the resort were more than accommodating and slowed down the lift to get us on the last chair up for the day. Josh and I were one chair ahead of Power and shooting back. This was thrilling and the most I could hope for a backdrop but Power was incredibly small in frame. We really wanted to accomplish as much as possible in camera as we could but for this one with limited time and resources, we had to shoot Power on a separate lift that was shut down for the day and replace the background with the great one we got hanging off the back.

Tri State 37917_lr

Up next was my home state Wyoming to a little town called Saratoga. First stop was the Saratoga Resort and Spa, which I would love to go back and visit sometime. Here Power gets the full spa treatment. After picking out the perfect room and spot, we went about getting Power down for his treatment. We lucked out that the cucumbers were the perfect size for his poor, tired, lighted eyes. Melissa also made her hand model debut here.

Tri State 308_lr

Then on to Hat Creek Trading Post in downtown Saratoga.

Tri State 349_lr

Tri State 414_lr

Followed by Sweet Marie’s Bakeshop right next door and not only did we shoot there, we also pretty much bought out the rest of her baked goods she had left (amazing).

Tri State 467_lr

Cloudcroft, NM was next, which is a small town in Southern New Mexico and sits on top of a mountain at a lofty 8,668 ft above sea level. We got into town to find that the town was living up to its name and was literally in the middle of the clouds. We had two locations to get, a yoga studio and the town’s brand new football field (including the whole high school team). The problem though was you couldn’t see more than 20 feet from the thick fog. After shooting the yoga, we drove out to the field and I was initially wary of being able to get anything, but we were there, the football team was there and we had to make it work. Once it got a little darker and the field lights came on the fog looked a little less ominous and started working. The kids came out in full gear and were very enthusiastic to be involved.

Tri State 654_lr3

Tri State 713_lr

Photo Mar 18, 7 03 03 PM

Finally our last day was in Nebraska. First stop was a pipe coating factory.

Tri State Power744

Tri State 780_lr

Then a cattle ranch.

Tri State 882_lr

Tri State 912_lr

Stephen, AKA Steve Jobs.

Tri State Power922

Tri State 956_lr

So after all that work the photos are now being rolled out into their new ad campaign and I am thrilled to see how they work!

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 2.31.59 PM Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 2.31.25 PMA huge special thanks to Melissa and Amy for bringing me in to work on this awesome project and to all the crew that helped bring it to life! You can see more at

Or look at the final images in higher quality on my site.

Camera Nerd Info:
Phase One P40+, Schneider Kreuznach 55mm LS f2.8

Lighting: 2 Profoto B1s with various softboxes, umbrellas, reflectors, doggy bags, 2 LumoPro 160 speedlights.

TJ Dillashaw for UFC Magazine

Earlier this year I heard from UFC Magazine. Current bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw was going to be training in Colorado for a week and they wanted some shots for an upcoming article. I found out where TJ would be staying and looked for a location around there that I could manage 3 or 4 completely different looks from. With the help of a friend I located an abandoned barn on public land that fit the bill perfect.


TJ was getting into town late in the day and we had just enough time to get going as the sun set. Shooting then let me have quite a few different looks based on the ambient light alone. Before TJ arrived I did test shots with my assistant Stephen of all the shots I wanted to try and get. After reading some interviews with TJ, I really liked his brash, confident attitude and thought a crown would be a good prop to use for the champ.

Stephen 35456_lr

But first we had to take advantage of what there was left of daylight.

UFC TJ 35343_lr

There was a cool looking field next to the barn which had all these great tall thistles.

UFC TJ 35407_lr

UFC TJ 35434_lr

Once the sun was gone, we moved on to the side of the barn using the awesome old painted wall as a backdrop.


UFC TJ 35469_lr

UFC TJ 35500_lr

UFC TJ 35535_lr

After a quick wardrobe change we looked to capture a little more GQ side of TJ, he’s looking a bit Daniel Craig Bond here.


UFC TJ 35649_lr

UFC TJ 35679_lr

We were running out of time, so I just wanted to try one more look using some gels for something completely different.

UFC TJ 35766_lr

TJ was a great guy to work with and helped us get all this done in a really short time. You can see the shots in the April/May 2015 issue of UFC Magazine and read his incredible story there!





Associations Now Magazine Cover

I was contacted earlier this year to photograph Aaron Smith, the CEO of the National Cannabis Industry Association for the cover of the magazine Associations Now. NCIA was founded in 2010 by Smith, a public advocate for marijuana policy reform to promote the growth of a responsible and legitimate cannabis industry.

I showed up to Aaron’s office with makeup extraordinaire Kari Kisch to get the shots needed. We setup a small seamless in the office and had a few cannabis plants to use as props but the objective was to make a business image, not an image for High Times magazine. So Kari and I had to walk the line of subtly inserting the plant into the shots.

Photo Feb 18, 3 27 10 PM

We ran through a few different poses on the seamless then a secondary shot on the sofa in the office. You can read the article here.

AN MJ 36203_lr AN MJ 36235_lr

AN MJ 36348_lr

AN MJ 36402_lr



Cat Zingano for UFC Magazine

In November I had the chance to photograph MMA fighter, Cat Zingano for UFC Magazine. Cat is fighting for the women’s championship on February 28 against incumbent champ Ronda Rousey and UFC Magazine did a big feature on her. Cat came down to the studio and we did a session there playing with different looks and lighting concepts. Then we took everything outside and got a few more shots on the streets. Cat was great to work with and an amazing person. I definitely recommend checking out the article in the December 2014/January 2015 issue of UFC Magazine and reading about her inspiring story.

Camera Nerd Info:
Phase One 640 DF+ /  P40+, Schneider 80mm LS, 55mm LS lenses PCB Einsteins with various modifiers.

UFC Cat 30185_lr

UFC Cat S30022_lr

UFC Cat S30471_lr

UFC Cat 29962_lr

UFC Cat 30694_lr

UFC Cat 30827_lr