Sara Harrell

Photography Services - White Dove Releases

Sara Harrell offers Photography services and White Dove Releases.

Looking for (*Non) Models -- Building My Public Portfolio.

In an era where we are inundated with photos multiple times a day, and nearly 80% of them are on an electronic device, I thought it was important to take a moment and talk about photos, memories, and those we cherish.

I come from a family of photographers.  My grandmother gave me my first lessons with her camera (as she closely kept both of us in reach due to my young age), and eventually I was thought to have enough interest and responsible enough not to misplace an expensive item if gifted to me. Long before the thought of 'digital' had been conceived, we were out taking photos and writing down all our settings and mailing off our film in anticipation of what we had captured.  Weeks later Seattle Film Works would return our photos and a few more rolls of film by mail. If it was summer break, and I was older I was occasionally allowed in the basement where she had a darkroom and we'd process our captures there, but that's a digress for another day.

Eventually kiosks in parking lots popped up from Eastman Kodak and a 45 minute drive to town to drop them off thru a window as we wait to hear when we should return for our prints.  I think that was about a week at worst, but a few days at least if memory serves correct.  The little kiosks are more like our little modern day coffee huts. ;) 

My first digital camera came much later in life, I was out of high school, was a bit through college, and working.  My job at that time required me to go through tremendous amounts of film prints, and having saved for almost a year I had my first digital camera.  A kodak DC20.  I still to this day have two of them and the CF cards they use, along with a couple of film cameras, and a newer digital camera.  It's a bit deep ingrained in my soul at this point.  Oh, and the one on my phone... almost forgot about that one!

So how is this post about "Handmade" and "Digital Strokes"?

When I first got my DC20, I'll be honest, it was a lonnnnggggg time ago.  I hated it!!  There was little to no processing that could be done.  Digital was in its full newborn state.  But it was a necessary evil for work due to the expense of film and developing.  Digital cameras have gotten better over the decades (Thank God!) but what people often don't realize is the digital image they like so much out of the camera (SOOC - Straight Out Of Camera) is just the start of the image.

We're gonna go techy here for a minute, so hold on if that's not your cup of tea -- Cameras tend to shoot Jpeg and/ or Raw formats, as well as a few others.  Jpegs don't truly allow you to do much to the image as the information is 'baked in'.  Raw images however are a different beast.  It's the equivalent to a jpg being a heavy, slightly to well over baked loaf of bread while the RAW image is the equivalent of a well formed artisan bread with the best of high quality ingredients and a stone oven to bake by master artisans who know their trade.  Which would you rather have with dinner tonight?

Photography as a trade comes with a fair amount of education when done at a professional level.

Photography comes with a fair amount of education when done at a professional level, and it really is a trade, so is post processing.  The action of further processing the digital file in a program much like a analogue darkroom like the one my grandmother had in her basement.  Sure, lots of people take camera photos, even two year olds!  But you can bake bread in your home as well.  But don't we all (when honest) love the higher quality and expertise and knowledge of great bread and great photographs when done by those who've truly studied their trade?


The skill of a photographer and combining with a retoucher (someone who processes photographs at a high end level) can produce images that are far superior than photos alone, or those with even some 'tweaks'.  

When I work on images for clients, I am offering heirloom photographs of special times in their lives.  Important events, and very important often tender memories and retrospective pieces.  Depending on the client, most are never released by me due to the emotional moments or the privacy they deserve.

As 2017 rolls on, I hope to change that, somewhat.  I am still and will always honor all client wishes.  Some don't wish their children to be placed out of their control digitally (on line) and there are the many funeral, remembrances, and memorials I document for families as well.

I am looking to start building a public portfolio and will be looking for models in all seasons of the calendar year.  


Who's a model?  Anyone who desires to be dotted upon for an hour or so,  treated with the love and respect they deserve and to see a side of them they maybe didn't realize I can find and show them.  No one is too short, too curvey - let me show you what I can see in you!  too boring, or old to be photographed in a beautiful and glamorous way.

I am offering this a few times a year, throughout the year.  No shoot and burn also known as "Mini's". It is an hour devoted to you, your beauty inside and out, and a way to show you, the you, you knew you once were.  Intrigued? Scared but excited? Dare me to find the YOU you love being!

Again, this is a
limited opportunity
for a lucky few.  
If you are interested in this offer for yourself, a friend, a daughter, a son, parents, etc, everyone is welcome! Be sure to contact me quickly before this offer is all booked up.
Name *

* Non Models - I'm looking for everyday folks, who see the value in photographs and nice artwork. 

**Photos will be for my portfolio to build my career as a photographer as well as a retoucher.  Photos will grace in good taste, and my web presence.  

***Equal exchange***  value of time for images that are hand retouched with additional images available by mutual agreed terms.  Hand retouched -- not presets zapped into place.  Full edited images from the heart by hand.

Booking My Services - Why Deposits are Required.

Sometimes, when consulting with a small business, folks don't always take into considerations all the things involved in securing the services of that person. Even if a business is small, it is still a business. For me, I am a sole entreprenuer in a fairly unique market. Sometimes, when people aren't ready to book, but they still think they want my services I may book up around them. Occasionally, they feel that somehow that gives them the right to treat me poorly. I can sympathize with their disappointment in not having a flight or my photography services, but being abusive in nature toward someone is never acceptable. I, for one, won't stand for it.

When your date is available, a deposit is required to "save the date". There is no commitment otherwise.

When your date is available, a deposit is required to "save the date". There is no commitment otherwise.


When considering setting dates for a flight or photography services (or both) I have to look over my calendar to see what is available. Since I am only one person, and there are only so many  doves, dates tend to book up quickly in peak seasons. Every person I speak to is advised up front that no services are committed until there is a down payment to reserve the date and time that was discussed.

Why would I require a down payment you might ask? For starters, this protects my calendar from sudden plan changes that are out of my control due to cancellations or rescheduling. When I commit to a date I am committing materials, training time, a certain number of doves, preparation (which can sometimes take days or weeks depending on the area we are releasing from) and my time during the event. When a date is officially "booked" I am committing myself and the doves to a particular time frame that can mean starting well ahead of the actual event. When a person is just "trying on" the idea of a dove release and wants me to hold a particular date it means that I have to turn away other paying business with the hope that the hours of discussion and planning will actually lead to a commitment. That is a very difficult way to manage my calendar.



Many other providers of services require the same type of commitment (a down payment to secure a date) prior to considering that date unavailable to other consumers. For example, hotels, caterers, florists, event venues, rental companies, etc. This protects both the consumer and myself. The consumer from having me overbooked or unavailable to them on the day of their choosing. With a commitment, they are committing to paying me for my services and I am committing all that it takes to be the best prepared version of MT Dove ~Infinity Lofts I can be. The doves will be appropriately rested, trained, fed, healthy and beautiful for your day. I will be professional, on time, prepared, practiced and aware of our expectations for the event. 

Every conversation with a potential customer, I am sure to remind folks that as excited as I am to work with them, a down payment is necessary to lock in the date and the work required to pull it off and make it seem seamless. 


Deposits are required 

Deposits are required 

I would like to give you an example of how this is sometimes misunderstood or frustrating for some.



Setting expectations is always my goal, but when folks don't want to hear what I say, it leads to their frustrations.  Listening is helpful in avoiding frustration, and I do my best to educate all potential clients.

Setting expectations is always my goal, but when folks don't want to hear what I say, it leads to their frustrations.  Listening is helpful in avoiding frustration, and I do my best to educate all potential clients.

Recently, a local committee of folks looking to book the doves for an event almost 18 months out contacted us for information. I am able to be pretty flexible that far out and was very grateful for their forethought in getting a jump on planning for their event. I reminded the committee that a down payment was required to secure the date and although they were just in the planning stages and didn't have the funds available to disperse quite at that time, I believed that we agreed that in the coming months we would secure the date. After many many months and several hours of conversation time going over planning details, they were still not ready to put down a down payment. I can absolutely understand that. When you are working within a committee, you meet periodically. Sometimes committees don't always communicate well where everyone understands what I understood was to be the next step in securing the flight. I had even advised during conversations that if another event who was ready to place a down payment and book that date, I would be accepting the job unless we had a down payment and a contract for the services. 


Much like wedding photographers and popular venues, the dove releases can sometimes book up over a year or occasionally two years in advance.


I am sometimes booked out as far as 2 - 2 1/2 years out.  Summers are short in Montana, and resources and locations all book quickly in prime weather.

I am sometimes booked out as far as 2 - 2 1/2 years out.  Summers are short in Montana, and resources and locations all book quickly in prime weather.

In the case of the weekend that this committee was hoping to book, I had 2 other paying jobs commit to, and pay for, their scheduled flights. When I receive money for a service, that is a binding contract. It locks in your day and time, and everything that is included in our agreement. The money goes into the bank to provide for that service. (Food for the birds, ribbons, lace, material to match your decor if you so choose, gas to get me to and from your venue, etc.) I go so far as to ensure that the doves who are most suited for the type of flight we are booking are scheduled for you on that day and time so that the doves are comfortable and appropriately conditioned for their return home. When I book out my calendar, I tell people that I am no longer available for services on that date. Those people may have had money they wanted to give me for my services as well and I am forced to turn it down because I have already taken funds and created a contract for that date. When no down payment is required for my services, often times people cancel with short notice. Which leaves me both without work, without any compensation for the preparation that may have already happened, and passing up folks who were serious and wanted our services. 

Late this summer I received a call from the committee that had been looking for a flight only to find out we had booked the weekend they were interested in as no contract or down payment had been committed to the date. In a very "specific tone" I was advised that they were very disappointed in me because they thought their weekend was booked. 


Please LISTEN, don't just hear what you want to hear.

Please LISTEN, don't just hear what you want to hear.

Considering that in Montana, our outdoor event windows are fairly narrow, the doves have about 4 months to fly for you in our peak season. While we do fly all year long, most events in Montana are scheduled by consumers in the "best weather months".  The doves have great little personalities, and people want to see them. They can book up quickly. Moral? Time is of the essence. I am happy to explore how we can provide you a memorable and beautiful dove flight, but until we make a contract, the doves are available to be booked by the next person. I truly want to work with each and every person who contacts us to help make an event special. Sadly, I can't be in more than one place at any given time. So, I book the doves and my time accordingly as people who are serious about the booking provide a down payment. At the end of the day, I have to do what is best for the doves so that we can be here to continue to provide beautiful moments for many more years.



Montana State 4-H Horse Show, Montana ExpoPark, Great Falls

On Sunday, I was invited to the Montana State 4-H Horse Show, at the Montana ExpoPark, in Great Falls.

The weather was perfect for a day of showmanship, and the leaves on the trees were showing off their full color all around the park - at least until the next chinook winds.

Parents, family, and friends, all joined in for a day that was chilly if sitting still, but perfect for riding and keeping nerves a bit chilled down making the perfect combination for riders and horses.  Spectators slightly bundled sat in the bleachers and occasionally hugged up under afghans when the sun slipped behind clouds, then letting them go once the sun came back in with it's warming beams.

Horses, dogs, and folks gathered round their trailers and trucks and grilled to their hearts content between the excitement that ran in all directions.  Inside there was a lot of visiting while riders did their best in the arena.  Outside, another arena was in full swing keeping another set of judges busy with great competition.


My predictions, Farmers' Almanac, and Truth in Time

For the last 9+ months, I've said (repeatedly)  that we'd have a pretty harsh winter.  Actually, it's been longer than that...

A few months ago I started seeing posts on Facebook about the Farmers' Almanac and it's predictions.  Looks like we are in heavy agreement...  and I'm still predicting a winter wonderland to make skiers and snowshoe -ers thrilled.


Bear Spray, Bird Feed, and Luck

How *OLD* is your bear spray?

Earlier this summer I took a trip up to Glacier National Park for a workshop.  Everyone was armed with bear spray, myself included.  Being that I haven't been 'speedy' I didn't want to make for 'bear bait' and as luck would have it, a kind soul put a second can of bear spray in my car (haha).

Upon review of these canisters, I was looking for an EXP Date, I noticed that one was well past it's 'prime' with an exp date of 2007...  Hmmmm.  As luck would have it, the topic of bear spray came up that afternoon at dinner.  One of the attendees was asking where he could leave or donate his bear spray since he wouldn't be allowed to take it on his returning flight.  I brought up the exp date in the conversation, and we decided that while the capsaicin and related capaicinoids were likely still good, the aerosol was likely lacking and wouldn't be able to 'push' the irritant outward enough to do any good.

Naturally, I took my 'good' can of bear spray around with me throughout the workshop - although I never saw any bears.

The summer has turned to fall now, and back at home, I've checked our basket of bear spray kept easily at hand, that stays at one end of the kitchen counter year round.  I've seen a lot of fresh bear poop the last couple of weeks here around the house.  While we don't go looking for trouble, we also know that bears are a part of life in our area.  Many people are shocked to hear we have Grizzlies, and ask why they're here.  Well we are close to two waterways, and are surrounded by grain fields.  

Years ago, it was a normal sight to see Grizzly bears in fields.  They love grain!  If you listen to the rangers who keep neighborhoods 'bear aware' with the latest sightings and troubles in and around Missoula, they are often attracted to bird feeders.  Folks are asked to put the feeders away til the bears go into their winter dens.

Here on our loft grounds, we do all we can to keep our Doves safe - from a variety of predators.  We'd like to eventually be able to afford 'horse tape' (hot wire) and an electrical unit.  Our goal is to deter any predators before making it all the way to that part of the yard.  In 2015 we lost 20 Doves in a bobcat attack in June.  We have been blessed to not have to deal with more loss - or property damage due to wildlife.

Say, how's your bear spray?  Check that expiration date...




Looking forward to Spring 2017 in the Garden

It's been really quiet on our two Facebook pages this year - 
The biggest reason for that, is I was unable to pull a single weed, or to pick up a hand shovel and plant anything due to a back surgery.
This morning I came across a blog post that I really identified with and gives me excitement for seeing how the Dove Garden will be (hopefully) renewed come spring.  
If you had a garden get away from you this year - hopefully you were out having fun, this blog post might inspire you for spring 2017 as well.


There was much excitement for me this morning after trying off and on, to get my .com's moved over to this new server.  Finally success!  If you heard my cheering from my open office window, that's what all the ruckus has been about.

Now I will be more excited about putting in journal entries, knowing they can be seen by all.

>>Don't forget to BOOKMARK the new address - as I will be consolidating domains to save on expenses.

Thanks for your patience, and support.  


Navigating my Journal (Blog) for info - easy!

Hello, and thanks for stopping by!

I work at my journal on a regular basis, and I hope you will check back often and leave comments to encourage me so I know you have been by. --- I think we all agree it gets boring talking to a wall, and I like knowing you've stopped by. :)   

You'll find helpful hashtags and categories if you are looking for something specific to save you time.

If you are looking for info regarding my Journal and the Doves look for the hashtag #MTDove

If you are looking for info regarding my Journal and my photography work look for the hashtag #SH (Sara Harrell regarding Photography).

To 'sort' for what you are looking for, click on the categories and tags at the bottom of this journal entry.

Happy reading and exploring my daily life through my journaling.

Prayer Flight - Lynne D.

Prayer Flight for Lynne - Prayers work, I heard as I worked on this video she is cancer free! As Lynne entered the doctor's office this am in anticipation of learning her status, she was found to be cancer free! Prayers really do work! I believe prayers written out and sent to the heavens higher than we can physically go can bring such peace. 

I place messages in capsules that are attached to my Dove's leg for the flight. When they return to Infinity Lofts (their home) I remove the capsule with the message from their leg and tie a ribbon around it, and give it to the person the prayer flight was for as a keepsake.

Sending all my love to Lynne on this special flight, 


Update: A year has passed, and Lynne I am thankful to say, is in great health!

The Vibrant Colors of Magpies (video)

Did you know the magpie bird in your backyard is more than just black and white with a dash of blue?  
This one found himself stuck in a 'humane trap' so we thought we'd show him off to you before letting him fly.

e encourage magpies to hang around our loft gardens, we actually feed them!  Not only that, a few have particular characteristics that help us identify them as individuals.  Those particular magpies have names, and have learned to come when I call them.

Magpies, unlike doves, can and do nip and bite!  This one even snipped me enough to cause a scratch like cut with a dab of blood...  Careful handling these guys!

Joann McCann - Unplanned Birthday Party for Dell McCann and Friends

Today I had this urge to take the Doves down to the Sun River cemetery.

I couldn't explain why I felt the need to go there and release the Doves, but I followed 'my gut'. My plan had been to let them go (release) off the front porch, but a voice kept sending me to our closest cemetery.  

There I noticed a lady I had never met, tending to a few stone markers. It's very rare that I approach folks in cemeteries, it's a sacred place and moment for them, and I highly respect their needs.  But I just had this feeling..  So I listened to my gut and broke one of my ways.

I asked if she was there tending to loved ones, and she said yes. She told me today was her husband's birthday and they had plans that wouldn't take place (now). She pointed out a dear friend, and (I believe) a cousin, all close together.  

I offered her my Doves to enjoy as I was there for training just by chance - IF It was something she'd like. She was really taken back.  If you listen to the very end of the video, you can tell - we'd never met before that moment.

It's always good to listen and follow through on those little voices...
Happy Birthday to Dell - Joann McCann.  

PS Joann and I placed feathers from the Doves on the sites of her loved ones, and she took one home as a keepsake.