Night of the Outlaws at Prairie Village

Is there anything better than a tractor pull?

Check out the images below from Saturday night at Prairie Village.

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Prairie Village Threshing Jamboree – 2013 Edition

Last weekend found us at Prairie Village in between sessions and time on the computer. Check out some images from this year’s jamboree below.

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Bev and Her Very Pink Tractor

This week’s fun project was photographing Bev Mader’s Pink Farmall B tractor. You might have seen it in the parade at Prairie Village last weekend.

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ORR Vs Dell St Mary District Basketball – Ramona South Dakota Sports Photography

The Raiders served notice tonight that they are ready to play ball. Check out images from tonight’s game in Ramona.

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Tree vs Wind at the Studio – Tree Loses

We had a surprise waiting for us at the studio this morning: the ash tree in front of the church split in two, blocking the road and creating an opportunity for exercise this weekend.

Before and After – Farm Picture Restoration

One of our customers brought in a very old damaged print for restoration this week.

NL Spring Seminar Hosted by the SDPPA

I spent two days learning more about photography with my peers at the annual seminar hosted by the South Dakota Professional Photographers Association. President Pam Karlen put a great program together and selected two of the most sought after photographers as our speakers: Kevin Jairaj and Alycia Alvarez.

I always enjoy hanging out with my friends and learning new techniques. I bought a few new very cool toys for our upcoming senior season and can’t wait to try some new awesome lighting.

Here are a few images taken from behind the scenes from Sunday and Monday.

Never Leave Your Camera Unattended at a Photography Seminar!

This was my last seminar as a board member of the SDPPA. I’ve gotten into the habit of leaving my camera sitting at the table as I did whatever I needed to do. I didn’t have much to do this year as past president except to take care of whatever SDPPA President Pam Karlen might need. In this case it was to take pictures of the event throughout the two days. The rest of the time, I left my camera on the table as I visited with vendors at the tradeshow. Sunday night I came home and downloaded the images. Look what I found on camera: my friend Chad Phillips’ self portraits. You would think I would learn…Monday night I found more…

We love Winter!

We thought there would be no school today after watching last night’s weather forecast on TV. We woke up before 6 this morning to no snow. Dacey was not happy. By the time we left for Chester at 8 am, the roads were covered in snow and we saw one of the neighbors in the ditch on Hwy 34. By sheer luck, we did not schedule any appointments today in the studio. That’s OK. We have plenty of computer work.

I took Aric’s senior pictures yesterday after school. The old International truck that we used in a few of Aric’s pictures is now covered in snow. We love Winter.

Friday Snowstorm

We had a fast moving snowstorm on Friday morning. Our pickup looked very cool with the snowflakes in the air.

Happy New Year from Black Studios!

Happy New Year!

Like everyone else out there, we are making our New Year’s resolutions on how to make our lives better in 2012 and trying to keep up with our soon to be teenage daughter and our son.

Balance is the word for the new year.

I am glad to see the end of 2011. It has been a challenging last year. So far 2012 has been on the blustery side but there has been little cold or snow so far this Winter.

Christmas Carolers at the Studio

Our highlight of this morning was having the Rutland School elementary students come sing for us outside the studio. Very cool!

Bowties and Suspenders – Madison High School Formal

Rush and his friends went for the classic look with bowties and suspenders for the dance on Saturday night at the Dakota Prairie Playhouse.

Rick Barger at Prostrollo Auto Mall – Monday Front Page of the Madison Daily Leader

My picture of Rick and crew working at Prostrollo Auto Mall made the front page of the Madison Daily Leader last night.

T-Shirt TUX: Madison High School Prom

At every dance, we get to hang out with the kids as we are taking pictures. You never know what kind of outfits will turn up. This time it was a couple of guys with a shortcut on the whole tux thing. This image made the front page of Monday’s Madison Daily Leader.

Pre-prom Open House at Black Studios on Friday afternoon 3:00-5:45 pm

We will open up the studio Friday afternoon before Grand March to anyone (couples or single) wanting fun or formal pictures in their tux or prom dress.

No More Hibernation — Bring out Your Cuties!

I think the cold has put us all in hibernation mode. It’s cold. It’s so much work to bundle up, to get the car started, to wander out on roads, not sure that they won’t be icy or blown over by the time you come home. Boy, can I relate! Here I am with Rachel a week ago on one of those zero degree days where I wasn’t brave enough to head to town but still needed a little exercise. This is usually a little mile section that we run the dog or the kids run for gym class. This day I couldn’t find the road on the whole mile. It was a good, challenging walk, but I was happy to see the snow plow come to open the back road up.

Having said that, No worries, we are so thankful to the snow plows that open up the paved road to Rutland every day, and also to great neighbors, Denny and the Carpers for keeping our alley and our parking area nice and clean so you can all come visit us. And, I’m going to plan on the cold weather finally breaking. Today, the weather crept up to 30 degrees. I was loving the feel of the sun on my face and being able to be out without hurrying to get out of the chill.

We had so much fun playing in the cold a couple weeks ago, with the Freeze Your Fanny 5k Run, that we decided to continue the fun and also the love we want to share with the Leah’s Kids organization. The group from Madison will be off to Guatemala in just a couple weeks, to help finish the house for the orphanage, but there is always continuing need for support at the orphanage. Mike and I have decided to find a new way to help them out. Of course, we want you to help out, too. So, here’s our new program.

We are announcing the Caring Cuties Contest. For the month of February, we are looking for cuties to come out and support the orphanage. $25 will enter your children into the contest, give you a 60 minute session, and a free 8×10. The entrance fee all goes to Leah’s Kids and the Casa Angelina orphanage. (Check out Then March 1-15, we will post our entries online for our viewers to vote for the cutest kids. We plan to have three categories of winners: zero to four year old, five to 12 year old, and groups –A great chance to get all the grandkids together in one portrait. Call today to set up your appointment 1.605.586.4143. Have an adorable idea to make your session more creative? Make sure you give us your idea when you call so we can plan for something fun.

Sorry about the Short Notice -but Get OFF The Couch and Freeze Your Fanny

So, it’s almost a week into 2011, and I’m just beginning to think about resolutions.  Just like me to be a little bit behind, but charging ahead anyway.

 It’s time again for the Community Center Fitness Challenge.  Last year we had a great team.  We lost weight, or at least, became more fit, and raised $95.50 for United Way.  Plus, it jump started a whole new fitness craze for Michael and myself.  We ended the fitness challenge with a small indoor triathalon, did our 2nd yearly triathalon with the CC in April and then was challenged by our favorite trainer Lisa to keep going toward a new goal.   Lisa and I completed the Sanford/Children’s Miracle Half-Marathon in Sioux Falls in September.  I was impressed with myself, but also impressed with the 2000 other runners, plus many many more staff and volunteers, that were all out there having a great time and raising money and awareness for a great cause.

So, here we are again in our new year, and I’m excited about what we accomplished last year, but always feel like there should be something more.  What should I be focusing on this year that improves on what we have done before?  This morning I awoke, having spent days fussing over the economy and cold weather and maybe a little of the SD winter blues, to a more forward-looking attitude.  This year, 2011, I look forward to more of what we’ve enjoyed the most over the last couple years.  I want to do more activity and be busier than ever.  Hmm, let me re-phrase that. 

I want to do more with our community for those around us.  Of course, I want all of Black Studios fans and friends to join in my insanity.  So where do I start?  Well, of course, the Community Center Fitness Challenge.  This year they’ve changed it up a bit.  Last year, we worked as a team with several of our clients and friends.  This year the CC is asking for more teams in groups of 2.  So, Michael and I will be up at the CC almost every day doing whatever we can to lose weight and stay fit.  We want you to join us. 

Grab yourself a partner and come sign up at the CC.  Weigh in this week, and start working out together for fun, fitness and even a few prizes.  Plus, the entrance fee ($15 per person) all goes to helping United Way.  Another bonus!  Tomorrow, Friday, January 7,  from 12:00 to 3:00 pm  and also on Tuesday, January 11 from 6 to 8 pm, Michael and I will be at the CC center taking pictures of anyone who shows up, but mainly groups entering the CC challenge.  Then  at the end of February, we’ll be back to retake the groups, and see the results of 8 weeks of working out and having fun together. 

If that wasn’t enough, our crazy friends at the Wesleyan Church have come up with another way to get us all out, active and helping others.  Saturday morning, 10 am, at the downtown armory,  the Wesleyan group is sponsoring a FREEZE YOUR FANNY 5k run.  BRRR.  Temps are suppose to be in the 20’s, so why not.  I signed Dacey and myself up today, so we are planning to be there.  The event is to raise funds for a group from Madison who help with an orphanage in Guatemala.    I guess I will be dreaming of warm and sandy locations while chilling my insides.  But, they promise to feed me and give me a t-shirt, so how much more could I want!  Go to to find out more, then keep clicking to to sign up to join me.

Join me in making 2011 a year of changes for the better, for ourselves but for others  as well.

We were published in South Dakota Magazine

I was reading the South Dakota Magazine that came in the mail and came upon a picture of our trainer Lisa in a DSU football jersey. The picture looked familiar and it should. We looked through the archives and sure enough, we found it. So how did a Black Studios image make it into the South Dakota Magazine without our knowledge?

We support DSU athletics by supplying images to the University of action shots. The image of Lisa was taken at Homecoming a year ago from last Fall. The picture made its way through the channels and into the magazine. It’s quite cool to see your image in print. Even though we’ve had hundreds of images published in newspapers and magazines (even one in Sports Illustrated), it still is a great feeling.

Madison High School Fall Formal

A fun picture from the MHS Fall Formal on Saturday night at the Dakota Prairie Playhouse that made today’s edition of the Madison Daily Leader.

Halloween Angel

Poor dog. We didn’t take pictures of the kids on Halloween, but we did take pictures of Angel in her costume. Angel was in heaven on Sunday night. She got her share of attention from kids during the Trunk or Treat at the West Center Baptist Church parking lot.

We have a little water

We are having to pump a little water out of the basement of the studio. It’s not a lot but because of all of the rain, the water table is much higher than it has been in recent memory. It’s put us a little behind schedule and we are working hard to get caught up. We wanted to reorganize the basement anyway, but not right now.

Shop vacs are fun.

Email is working again and change in this week’s studio hours

We’ve been fighting this nasty email issue for more than a month. Michael’s sister Linda stopped with Anthony for a short visit on their way home last night. It only took her a few minutes to diagnose the problem and implement a remedy. Everything seems to be working fine so far.

The studio is on short hours for the week as we try to spend some quality time with the munchkins before they head off to school. We will be returning phone calls and emails as time allows as well as finishing up some retouching on a few orders. We will be back full force on Friday. Leave a voice mail and we will get back to you.

South Dakota Professional Photographers Association: Members in Action

Today, I headed down to Jeff Viere’s studio in Sioux Falls for the SDPPA’s Members in Action program. I brought the projector and screen for Cheryl Elbers to use. Unfortunately the projector didn’t play well with the Mac computers during the program. We adapted and moved on.

I am enjoying the start of my year as president of the SDPPA. I’ve been on the state board for several years now. We have had a great group over the past few years. The photographers on the board may be my competition for weddings, seniors and families, but they are my friends first. Our state organization is full of wonderful photographers. We respect our peers. We help each other out. We push one another to get better.

Thanks to Pam Karlen, Todd Buckstead, Elaine Steen and to the Melbys for all of the advice over the past few weeks as I’ve tried to figure everything out for this next year.

Valentine makeover pictures

We started getting phone calls from California this morning asking about the Valentine makeover sessions that they saw on Fox 11. I was confused at first and then at caller number 4, I was able to ask enough questions to figure out what was going on. Norma Blaque has studio in California and was featured on the morning show, Good day LA, with a story done by reporter Gina Silva.  This piece showed ladies getting makeovers for Glamor Shots type of images. Our web traffic today was off the hook thanks to this story. Everyone heard the studio’s website as when in reality it was

You can check out the story from Fox 11 here:

Baby Photography: Cayden at 6 Months

Cayden at 6 months.


Birthday Club: Elijah & Madysen

Elijah and Madysen both took advantage of the birthday club this month. If you join the birthday club you get a free session and 3×6 magnet. Here are a few of their pictures and the free magnets.


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South Dakota Senior Photography: Chelsea’s Senior Slide Show Video

Children Photography: Orion & Brodie

Orion and Brodie came into the Studio for a suprise Christmas present for their mother. We had a blast taking their pictures and as you can see they were all smiles.


Thank you neighbors!

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We owe a huge THANK YOU to our neighbors. Randy Carper and Denny Powell have made getting around Rutland possible. While Randy takes care of Main Street and the school, Denny has pushed snow away from the studio and alley. Without Denny, I’d be shoveling next summer.

Our piles around town and the studio are getting bigger. We still have plenty of room to park.

The cold has been brutal, but take heart: it’s supposed to warm up next week!