Sometimes I forget I’m athletic. Even now, writing this, I don’t feel like calling myself athletic is accurate. And then people point out that about a month ago I rode my bike across a state.

Here’s the thing: RAGBRAI isn’t about being athletic. It’s a literal party, and people happen to be exerting more energy than usual.

The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa is in its 46th year and still going strong. Essentially, 15,000+ people get on their bikes and ride from the Missouri to the Mississippi River over the course of one week. This was my fifth year doing it, which I didn’t fully realize until I got home and looked at my bike map. I’ve had this map since I rode my bike across America when I was fourteen. It’s my record of every cross-state and cross-country bike route I’ve taken. When I went to trace out this year’s route, I was surprised to find four jagged lines already making their way across Iowa.

While it was my fifth year riding across, it was my first year going with a film camera. As I continue in my endeavors to learn film and capture the spontaneous nature of humanity, I discovered that RAGBRAI couldn’t have provided a better or more fun opportunity for capturing such moments.

Every day was full of small towns and places to hang out. Farmers and businesses alike come out, provide great food and drinks, and talk to riders. At any of these stops during the day, thousands of bikes would crowd every open space in the town—basically, bikers took over. I cannot express how grateful I am to these towns for not only their patience in letting us do this but also their eagerness to host us.

Often I hear that Iowa is just a giant cornfield, and that’s partially true, especially if you’re just driving down the freeway. But the whole truth is that Iowa is a farm state with thousands of farming and rural communities that come together in only the most Iowan of ways. The Midwestern charm and hospitality finds its home here. I have never met nicer people anywhere in America, hands down. I mean, who else would let fifteen thousand drunk bicyclists take over their state for a week?

The best part about this ride is the riders. I’ve never seen a group of people so footloose and energetic. It is most people’s one vacation of the year, and they really get into it. Not only this, but if someone crashes or has a problem, everyone stops to help, no question.

There’s so much to say about this bike ride. I couldn’t possible cover it all in one blog post. Over the next few years, I’m excited to keep going back and capturing the ride on film. If you know about this ride and have any ideas for shots you’d like to see, send me a message. I’d love to hear from fellow bike riders who are into photography.

McIntire Wedding // What I’m doing with photography

Last week I had the honor of shooting my very first wedding.

I’m very humbled that my lovely friend, Liz, asked me to do this. She’s also a photographer. I met her through grad school at Portland State.

The thing that I learned pretty quickly with shooting weddings is that it’s more than just a typical portrait shoot. You’re not just taking pictures of a subject or an event – you’re taking pictures of one of the most important days in someone’s life. It really hit me during the ceremony. I was humbled. Not only was I allowed to witness this beautiful moment, I was asked to capture it on camera. Amazing.

Maybe this feeling of overwhelming  humility wears off over time, but I really hope not. I’m not planning on going into photography as a full-time career path. I plan on keeping it as a side thing. Mostly, I do photography for publicity and social media. But if a friend asks me to take headshots or they need someone to take some pictures at an event for their website, I’m more than willing to step in and help. Being asked to do a wedding is such an honor to me. It blows my mind that I would be given the important task of capturing the whole day – forever. Being asked to capture something like this is no small request, and I cannot thank Liz enough for trusting me with this.

I’m not going to call myself an official photographer. That’s why photography is not at the top of my services page; I’ve got a lot of other things going on right now. I’m technically working three jobs at the moment, so starting my own photography business honestly sounds like a nightmare. There are a lot of other more well-established photographers who have put much more time and work into getting where they are. Trust me when I say they deserve your money a lot more than I do. In fact, I can even recommend some to you if you’d like.

Maybe down the road photography will become more of a frontlist business project for me, but for now, it provides a great hobby that gives me a break from reading and writing all the time. Don’t get me wrong – I love reading and writing. That’s why I’m in the publishing business. But I need other creative outlets outside of those things. Besides playing viola and taking pictures, I’ve also started drawing. Trust me when I say I’m no Picasso, but it’s still a great way to give my mind a break and my hands something to do. I’m one of those people that can’t really stop moving, unfortunately. It’s more of a curse than a blessing.

While I’m here mostly to talk about why I’m not calling myself an official photographer, I want to make it clear that I am still beyond grateful to take part in something like Liz’s wedding. She’s a beautiful bride. I mean, look at her.

Photography is a special and intricate thing. It opens doors into special moments in someone’s life that you wouldn’t have gotten to otherwise witness. I’m excited moving forward. And, as always, if you’re interested in any of my services, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

Congratulations to Brian & Liz!