A Day with McClanahan Studio

It's always tough to give a good answer when people ask us "what do you do?" The answer is complicated. We laugh. We play. We elicit beauty. We manipulate light. We create heirlooms. We hang out in a gnarly old building. We adventure. We push boundaries. We never stop learning. Recently we teamed up with our good friend Rob and made a video that sums up these things and more. We hope you like it:

The video is permanently hosted on our home page. If you like the song, it's called "We Came Alive" by Benjamin Dunn!

2014 PPA Photographer of the Year!

Warning: This post is geeky and goes in depth about photographic competition. We won't be offended if you skip straight to the pictures :) We recently got our results back from the Professional Photographer's of America's IPC (International Print Competition)! IPC is like the Super Bowl for photographers with thousands of competitors from across the globe. It's the final culmination of competition that begins at the state level, moves on to the district level, and finale's with IPC. Basically it works like this: every photographer enters a maximum of 4 prints or albums which are scored on a scale from 0-100 according to 12 elements by a panel of expert judges. Images that earn an 80 or above are given a "merit" and enter the PPA General Collection, which only a small percentage of images earn. Merit images are then re-judged to see if they are deemed worthy of being in PPA's "Loan Collection," which only a small percentage of merited images obtain. If a photographer is able to merit all 4 of their entries, they are named a coveted PPA "Photographer of the Year." There are different designations of "Photographer of the Year" according to how many of an artist's merit images are selected for the Loan Collection.

PPA initiated a second branch of the competition called "Master Artist" which is basically a competition of photoshop skills where the artist includes their source files alongside their image so the judges can gauge how complicated their task was and see how creative they were with what they had to work with. A photographer can enter 4 images in Master Artist beyond the 4 that they enter in regular print competition. Complicated, eh!? But for photographers IPC is one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking events of the year!

This year both of us (Dan and Alex) entered IPC's regular print competition and Dan additionally entered Master Artist. Overall we did well! Alex merited 3/4 of her images and Loaned 1 of them. Dan merited 3/4 and Loaned all 3. He also merited 4/4 in his MA case and Loaned 2 of them, earning him a PPA "Gold Photographer of the Year" designation! This is his 3rd time in 4 years earning a Photographer of the Year designation. Not too shabby for a couple of Iowa kids! If you've read this far, you are very patient and we thank you for taking an interest in our work! Enjoy viewing our 2014 images:

Dan's Print Case

"Basking in Love's Light"

PPA Loan Collection

Bride and groom portrait lounged on the rocky Oregon coast with an epic sunset behind. Des Moines Photographer McClanahan Studio photographed this image. Destination wedding. Photo was selected for the 2014 PPA Loan Collection.

"Soaring to Victory"

PPA Loan Collection

Ames high school senior Erin Lehman jumps her competition horse at dusk with a look of determination on her face. This strobist image accentuates the horse's muscles and shiny coat. Photographed in Ames, Iowa by Des Moines Photographer Dan McClanahan. Photo was selected for the 2014 PPA Loan Collection.

"Letting Him Go"

PPA Loan Collection

A Des Moines bride lays on a rock in the ocean and watches her veil wash back and forth in the tide. Destination wedding photographed in Oregon by Iowa Wedding Photographer of the Year McClanahan Studio. West coast wedding, dramatic sunrise portrait was selected for the 2014 PPA Loan Collection.

"Pipe Dreams"

Didn't merit, but we still love this image of local legend Marcus Savage

Ames skating legend Marcus Savage poses for a photograph by Dan McClanahan that is composited into a west coast skate park with stadium lights and sunset. Marcus has a great skater fro!

Alex's Print Case

"Media Slave"

PPA General Collection

Ames beauty Maggie Doyle sits upon a throne constructed from VHS tape to be photographed by Des Moines Photographer McClanahan Studio. Image is a metaphor about the impact media has on our subconscious minds in American culture. Photo was chosen for the 2014 PPA General Collection.

"Rustic Rendezvous"

Didn't merit, but we love this image and made a decorative print of it for our building!

Portrait of Eric and Ellie Whillhoit perched in the hayloft of an old barn at Willhoit farms. Engagement portrait showcasing a meaningful location and a quiet moment between sweethearts. Backlit and toned in a vintage fashion that matches the mood of the image. Captured by Des Moines Photographer Alex McClanahan.

"Rachel & Jared"

Milwaukee Wedding. PPA Loan Collection. This also won the top wedding award in Iowa and was the highest scoring album in our 10 state district!

"Lia & Björn"

Seattle Wedding. PPA General Collection

Dan's Master Artist Case

"Living in Our Own Little World"

PPA Loan Collection

Dan and Alex McClanahan's infamous Christmas card inside a snow globe. She is putting the star on the tree from the top rung of a ladder and he is shoveling the ground, both filled with utopian happiness. Image by Des Moines photographer McClanahan Studio selected for the 2014 PPA Loan Collection. Composited elements included on the print to show the complexity of the project.

"Keeping Her Grounded"

PPA General Collection Composite engagement photo by Des Moines photographer McClanahan Studio showing Mark and Valentina Looney having a symbolic moment on a backpacking trip in the southwest. Valentina is reaching for a butterfly not noticing the cliff's edge and Mark is keeping her from falling off. Photograph selected for the 2014 PPA Loan Collection.

"The Perfect Storm"

PPA General Collection

Iowa State Cyclone Women's Basketball poster featuring hallie christofferson by Des Moines photographer Dan McClanahan. entitled "the perfect storm," the poster shows three seniors emerging from a storm cloud in action poses. Photo was selected for the 2014 PPA General Collection.

"The Winning Moment"

PPA Loan Collection

Des Moines Photographer Dan McClanahan created this poster for Iowa State Cyclone Men's Basketball  2014 season. Featuring Melvin Ejim, DeAndre Kane, Georges Niang executing a drive in Hilton Coliseum against a fictitious opponent. Composite image was selected for the 2014 PPA Loan Collection.

Meg & Chad

We had the pleasure of photographing portraits for our friends Meg & Chad on their farm in Audubon, IA. Below is a compilation of some of our favorite images from the evening. Meg was a classmate of Alex's in the Design program at Iowa State, and now she owns and operates Moglea, an insanely awesome boutique letterpress stationery design studio. It was a treat to get to hang out on the farm and get a glimpse into the lives of these two! Enjoy:

 

McClanahan Stadium

We're excited to support Cyclone Nation as the Official Photographer of ISU Basketball! You may have already seen it, but here's our jumbotron animation that's airing at every Cyclone home basketball game this season. It was created by the insane Johnny Likens. We're excited to see it in person for the first time at this weekend's game. Go Clones! Make sure you blow this up to full screen when you watch it! http://vimeo.com/53744158  

Kelly & Koda: 1st Place Album

Apologies for not posting in a while... it's been a busy month with travels to Alaska for a destination wedding and overseeing construction on our new location back home. If you don't yet follow us on Facebook, updates and a plethora of images are being posted regularly here. I meant to post this a while ago, but better late than never! I entered this album from my engagement session with Kelly & Koda in the annual Professional Photographers of Iowa competition and it won first place! It's a humbling honor considering the number of outstanding photographers we have in our state. The album also went on to receive merit at the Professional Photographers of America International Print Competition. Our albums are the finished product we take the most pride and joy in as photographers because they're an amazing storytelling vessel. The power of the finished piece is greater than the sum of its parts. We will have a printed copy of this album on display in our new studio once we get moved in! Back to the subject: Kelly & Koda are not only best friends, they're very active together. They love biking, swing dancing and just straight–up adventuring together. We themed their engagement session around these attributes of their relationship and had an insane amount of fun adventuring and creating with them! Their wedding is right around the corner and we can't wait to capture it! Without further ado, here's the album:

 

 

Feature: Professional Photographer Magazine

We just received our July issue of Professional Photographer Magazine and we're excited to share that our engagement imagery is featured as the cover story! The mag called us a couple months ago for an interview so we know we would be published in some capacity, but we didn't know that we would be getting the cover until recently. You can download a pdf of the story here. We must give a giant thanks to our engagement couples for letting us into your lives to create imagery!

2012 Brides Choice Award

Whoohoo! We just received this press release from Wedding Wire:

{Ames,IA} – January 26, 2012 – WeddingWire, the nation's leading wedding Marketplace, is excited to announce McClanahan Studio has been selected to receive the prestigious WeddingWire Bride’s Choice Awards™ 2012 for Photography!

The esteemed annual awards program recognizes the top local wedding vendors from the WeddingWire Network who demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness and professionalism within the wedding industry. While many industry awards are selected by the organization, McClanahan Studio was selected based on its stellar reviews from past newlywed clients.

McClanahan Studio is recognized as part of the top five percent of wedding professionals in the WeddingWire local vendor community, comprised of over 200,000 wedding professionals throughout the United States and Canada. The Bride’s Choice Award recognizes the best local wedding vendors across 20 service categories, from wedding venues to wedding photographers, based on their overall professional achievements throughout the past year.

“WeddingWire is thrilled to honor the success of the top-rated wedding professionals within the WeddingWire Community,” said Timothy Chi, CEO, WeddingWire. “Since the launch of the Bride’s Choice Awards™ program four years ago, thousands of outstanding wedding professionals have been recognized by the bridal community for their supreme service and dedication to the wedding industry. It is with great pleasure that we congratulate McClanahan Studio for their continued professionalism and commitment to enriching the wedding planning experience for engaged couples.”

We are happy to announce that McClanahan Studio is one of the very best Photographers within the WeddingWire Network, which includes leading wedding planning sites WeddingWire, Project Wedding, Brides.com, Martha Stewart Weddings, and Weddingbee.

We would like to thank our brides for taking the time to review our business on WeddingWire. Your positive feedback made it possible for us to receive this recognition and we absolutely wouldn't be able to do what we do without you! Check out our WeddingWire page here: http://www.weddingwire.com/reviews/mcclanahan-studio-ames/a48c1e1dc2f99dc2.html

-Dan and Alex

2011 Platinum Photographer of the Year

This is pretty wild, but after double checking to verify that the judges didn't confuse me for somebody else named Dan I'm excited to share the news with you! If you're a regular on the blog, you might remember that back in February my entries in the Professional Photographers of Iowa print competition won every category that was submitted. After the state competition I sent my prints on to a regional competition, and then onto the Professional Photographer's of America's International Photographic Competition where my images competed against the best work from 22,000 photographers in 54 countries.  I'm very shocked (and a little giddy) to find out that I did rather well...I was named a 2011 Platinum Photographer of the Year. What the heck does that mean? Here's part of the press release from PPA: The level of the award is determined by how many of the photographer's four entries receive the highest possible honor: acceptance into the PPA Loan Collection, which is displayed at photographic exhibitions, conventions and other photography events. McClanahan was named a Platinum Medalist, meaning that three of his four merited images entered the PPA Loan Collection. In 2011 he was one of only 32 Platinum Medalists worldwide.

"These photographers have reached a prestigious achievement," states Dennis Craft, PPA's Photographic Exhibition Committee Chairman. 'The consistent quality required to earn the title of Platinum Medalist in one of the world's most celebrated photography competitions certainly bodes well for their clients, too!"

I must give a HUGE thanks to our clients and our friends that put up with our craziness and allow us to create images like these. What we do wouldn't be possible with out you and you truly are the reason we love our job!   My winning entries were as follows:

"Never Trust A Woman"- This image is a top 10 finisher and will duke it out for a 1st place Grand Imaging Award at Imaging USA in February. This print is also nominated for a Kodak Gallery Elite Award, which will also be announced at Imaging USA.

"Heidi & Neal" - engagement album selected for the Loan Collection. Here's one spread from the album:

"Jill& John" - wedding album selected for the Loan Collection. Here's one spread from the album:

"All American Slam" - merited image:   (GO STATE!)

-Dan

 

Kelly & Nick (engaged)

Per Kelly and Nick's brilliant request, we photographed their engagement session in campus town at Iowa State University. We started the session at Chasers, the bar where Kelly and Nick first met while playing beer pong with mutual friends. Some of those friends were able to make it back and join us for part of the session :) Afterwards we walked around and played at meaningful campus town locations, including the Welch Ave Station mural and Cyride buses as they drove by. Kelly and Nick's engagement session was a blast and we can't wait for the wedding!