If you've looked at half the photos from this year, you already know that these guys have played a rather large part in it.

I met The Giving Tree Band almost exactly a year ago, with the idea that I'd probably shoot one performance and that would be the extent of my involvement with them. Seems the universe had a different plan. During our first interaction, I immediately got along with all of them so well that they invited me out to shoot photographs of them in the recording studio the following month.

Then, just like that, I was spending most weekends at their home and studio; shooting practices, recording sessions, and the intimate, often comical (occasionally tense) moments between housemates. When touring season began, I accompanied them as well, covering shows and life on the road all across the country. What started as a brief photo session has turned into my pet project--a year spent documenting the life of a band; of seven men, who lead an unconventional life in so many ways, working relentlessly, and never compromising their vision.

It's crazy how life can throw something at you faster than the blink of an eye that changes everything. I'm beyond grateful for the opportunity to work with these boys, not only for a year's worth of inspiration but for the change they have cultivated within me. Being a witness to the work ethic behind the band has changed the way that I work; my entire creative process and thinking as an artist has been influenced by the creative activity I've been surrounded with. And that's all on a professional level. Personally, I am so grateful to have these wonderful new friends that never cease in their encouragement and kindness, it's a rare thing to have friends like that.

Anyway, that is why I chose this shot as the second on my twelve most significant for 2011. It's an interesting shot for me because it was taken the first time I was out at Crooked Creek, in January of this year; you can see in the photographs from that night how shy and timid I was feeling at the time. In this photograph in particular, I'm truly just an outsider peeking over shoulders into something amazing. It didn't take long for me to warm up to these guys though: tight quarters promote quick bonding.

[The entire Giving Tree Band project will be debuting on my website soon!]

Utopiafest 2011 [part 2]

[The Giving Tree Band. The crowd begged for them to continue playing by the end of their set, does anything else need to be said?]

[Peelander-Z. Not exactly my kind of music but they sure were entertainers. The massive crowd loved their antics set to a Japanese punk soundtrack. And I'm not sure it was entirely an act--behind the scenes, they were just as wacky and brightly dressed.]