The Pratcher Family

This family just had another baby and I realized I never did share this beautiful portrait session from a few years ago!

The Lewis family

I’ve been horrible at getting up blog posts from family shoots I’ve done recently and even late last year, so here’s the Lewis family, one of my favorites from the 2016 fall season!

The Stewart family

I photographed Jessica and Mason’s wedding FIVE years ago. It was hard to believe when they reminded me! So good to see them and their little boy, we had a blast hanging out again!

Speaking at Disney

Last fall I was invited to speak at the Disney Animation Studios. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve spoken in many different places at this point, but mostly it’s been camera clubs and festivals. I did travel to Sweden in November 2016 to talk at a gallery opening for their national landscape photography association and that was fairly incredible to say the least!

But this was Disney. The Animation Studios make all the films my kids love. Films I love. And they asked me to come show my time-lapses of storms to them? Mind. Blown.

I can’t talk much about the why. But suffice it to say, they wanted to hear my story, see my work and ask questions about it. And it was one of the most extraordinary times of my life. The bonus of it all was the fact that we had planned a Disneyland trip anyways for around Christmas, so we just doubled-up on this trip and did it all at once. And brought Jina’s parents along for the ride.

To make things even better, my host Ross Blocher offered to give us a tour of the studios and even the backstage lots across the street. It was amazing. Walking the halls of this place knowing that films like Tangled, Frozen, Wreck it Ralph and Moana (to name a few) were thought-up, created and brought to life all inside these walls. The art on all the walls was mesmerizing. I wanted to buy some right there and hang them in the kids’ room.

The entire day was so memorable I don’t know where to begin. But I was so incredibly honored to be there and I’ll never forget it.

The next day we journeyed to California Adventures in the rain and it was such a blast. Here are some pictures from the trip!

The Tinder family

Love this family!!! Five years in a row taking their photos, it’s always, always a treat!

tinder-final-0030

tinder-final-0021

tinder-final-0015

tinder-final-0020

tinder-final-0009

tinder-final-0040_stomp

tinder-final-0050

tinder-final-0104_stomp

tinder-final-0107

tinder-final-0112

tinder-final-0115

tinder-final-0103

tinder-final-0100

tinder-final-0063

tinder-final-0075

tinder-final-0082

tinder-final-0087

tinder-final-0056

tinder-final-0055

tinder-final-0127

tinder-final-0126

tinder-final-0124

tinder-final-0090

tinder-final-0096

tinder-final-0131

tinder-final-0133

tinder-final-0144_stomp

tinder-final-0155

tinder-final-0134

tinder-final-0137

tinder-final-0140

tinder-final-0142

tinder-final-0149

tinder-final-0097

tinder-final-0170

tinder-final-0174

tinder-final-0175

tinder-final-0176

tinder-final-0179

tinder-final-0251_stomp

tinder-final-0182

tinder-final-0187

tinder-final-0189

tinder-final-0191

tinder-final-0223_stomp

tinder-final-0194

tinder-final-0217

tinder-final-0209_stomp

tinder-final-0214

tinder-final-0197

tinder-final-0233

tinder-final-0236

tinder-final-0243

tinder-final-0248

This was 2016

This past year took me all over. A road trip to Utah and Colorado for our annual Lost//Discovered adventure. Weddings in Montana, Buffalo and Las Vegas. Engagement sessions in California, Sedona, Tucson, the Mogollon Rim, Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. Storm chasing in the spring across nine different states while driving 25,000+ miles. Seeing a dozen or so tornadoes, including the first time capturing one in 8K. Then chasing storms and haboobs all over Arizona this summer with a couple film crews.

I also won an Emmy in October, which I need to write about at some point on this blog.  I photographed 31 weddings, 41 family/engagement sessions, ran a tornado tour and a monsoon workshop. I put about 50,000 new miles on the 4Runner.

There is no way around it: 2016 was everything I hoped it would be. Thrilling, exciting, daunting, fulfilling and yes, completely exhausting. The end of the year has been great for me to take a break, reflect and refresh. Going over these images has been therapeutic. When you see your entire year laid out like it is below…well for me, it’s emotional. You see all the work you did, the smiles, the laughs, the love, the tough times, the storms, my kids, the moments and the celebrations.

Hope you enjoy this look back! This was hard to narrow down and painful to leave things out. But I tried to keep it “tight” as much as possible haha. It begins on New Year’s Eve just a 1/4 from my house at a blast of a wedding and ends with a treasured photo of my three kids with our amazing nanny Emma who will soon be leaving us for school full-time.

I included the three films I made as well!

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0002

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0003

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0004

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0005

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0006

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0007

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0008

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0010

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0011

Zion by Moonlight

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0013

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0014

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0015

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0016

The Million Dollar Highway in Colorado has some sharp drop-offs and incredible scenery, plus this amazing switchback. I spotted it on Google Maps a few days prior and was hoping it would look amazing from the air...and I think it was better than I imagined.

A final bit of light hits Shiprock in New Mexico as the sun sets on a chilly day.

Lost//Discovered: The Other Side from Mike Olbinski on Vimeo.

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0019

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0020

20160201-_op_1716

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0022

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0023

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0024

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0025

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0021

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0026

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0027

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0028

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0029

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0030

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0031

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0032

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0033

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0035

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0036

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0037

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0040

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0042

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0043

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0045

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0047

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0048

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0049

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0050

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0051

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0053

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0054

Sometimes I wish I could just stand and watch a storm like this and not rush around trying to capture it with a million cameras. To just be in awe of God's majesty and creation without agenda. Sometimes I forget that's where my love of storms began. Being there and watching.

A beautiful, sculpted supercell roams the plains of the Oklahoma Panhandle.

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0057

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0058

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0059

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0060

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0061

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0063

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0064

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0066

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0067

A powerful, EF4 tornado spins through the small rural community of Katie, Oklahoma on May 9th, 2016.

A powerful, EF4 tornado spins through the small rural community of Katie, Oklahoma on May 9th, 2016.

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0070

The stunning Wynnewood/Katie tornado eventually roped out as it crossed Interstate 35 in Oklahoma.

A mile-wide wedge tornado hangs out in the dark area beyond the trees as it slowly moves towards the town of Sulphur, Oklahoma.

A beautiful, elephant trunk tornado touches down near Connorville, Oklahoma on May 9th, 2016

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0074

A tornado developed in the rain of this supercell and slowly emerged as it moved in the completely opposite direction from the storm itself.

A shelf cloud passed over minutes before, leaving in its wake low hanging clouds that looked as if you were staring up at a crashing wave in the ocean.

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0077

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0078

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0079

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0080

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0081

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0083

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0084

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0085

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0086

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0088

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0089

A shelf cloud slowly rolled over our position at Leoti, Kansas, revealing a gorgous sunset shining through the rain and lightning on May 30th, 2016

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0091

This gorgeously structure supercell churned over the dusty farmlands southeast of Lamesa, Texas on May 31st, 2016

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0093

A lighting bolt pierces the cloud decks as it slams into the ground southeast of Lamesa, Texas on May 31st, 2016

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0094

A gorgeous supercell hovers over the farmlands near Ackerly, Texas

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0096

A gorgeous supercell slowly moves over the farmlands of Texas near the town of Ackerly.

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0098

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0099

An isolated supercell south of Paducah, Texas, explodes upwards in an eruption of cumulus.

A bolt of lightning escapes an isolated storm south of Paducah, Texas

A supercell slowly dies out as it approaches Benjamin, Texas on June 14th

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0103

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0104

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0105

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0106

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0107

A powerful downburst of rain dumps over the Superstition Mountains in Apache Junction, creating strong outflow winds that kick up tons of dust, lowering visibility to zero at times.

A lightning bolt lands in the Four Peaks Wilderness area northeast of Phoenix, seeming to fork into two directions at the last minute as it strikes the side of a mountain.

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0110

A gorgeous couple of lightning strikes hit the Sand Tank Mountains just after sunset on July 1st, 2016

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0112

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0113

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0114

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0115

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0116

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0117

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0118

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0119

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0120

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0121

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0122

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0123

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0124

A low shelf cloud hangs under the base of a strong thunderstorm near the town of McNeal, Arizona.

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0126

A long lightning strike acts like an off-camera flash to help illuminate an intense microburst over the Eagletail Mountains and Courthouse Rock.

Something like hellfire rains down on these mountains west of Phoenix, with a massive bolt landing right atop Courthouse Rock.

A shot I've been trying to get for years now...last night it happened. A monster lightning strike just behind the iconic Picacho Peak that sits between Phoenix and Tucson along Interstate 10.

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0130

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0131

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0132

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0133

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0134

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0135

A beautiful, isolated storm hangs in western portions of Arizona right at sunset.

Nine separate photos are stacked here over the course of nine minutes out west of Phoenix along Sun Valley Parkway.

A single 30-second exposure yielded a blast of five lightning strikes landing in and around the Gila Bend Mountains on August 18th, 2016

A bolt of lightning hits in front of the Gila Bend Mountains on August 18th, 2016

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0140

A bolt from a summer thunderstorm drops just on the north side of the Little Colorad River as seen from the Grand Canyon's Navajo Point.

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0142

The Grand Canyon is a brutal place to chase. We drove up yesterday...eight hours there and back, 10 hours spent waiting, and waiting, and waiting, not sleeping (me, not the kids haha), only to have storms die out just before they hit you at 4am. And you know if you had gotten there an hour earlier, you'd have seen a good storm. Other than early last week, it's been a place that has been frustrating to say the least over the years. I usually drive back exhausted and bummed out. Today was no different. This morning though...on our way home, south of Cameron...the leftover clouds and rain from early morning storms exploded into some of the best color I've ever seen. This photo just has a bit of contrast added in Lightroom, nothing else. You could almost feel the color and the warmth on your skin. It made me smile. A gorgeous, perfect morning, shared with my two kiddos, on a highway in northern Arizona with the sky on fire. As if God was telling me...hey, you never know when something amazing is going to happen. Don't give up. Not gonna. But I need a nap.

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0144

A massive positive cloud-to-ground lightning strike hits just on the north side of Coolidge, Arizona

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0146

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0147

Yesterday was a crazy chase, ended up in a little community east of Ajo called Maish Vaya at sunset and completely surrounded by exploding thunderstorms and insane colors in the sky. It was unreal. This was looking north and is the only bolt I caught in this direction as I had less than 10 minutes before it started pouring. Spent the night in Green Valley and am now in Nogales watching the wash through town flow a bit before heading home early this afternoon.

A stunning thunderstorm at sunset out in a remote area of southern Arizona near the community of Maish Vaya.

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0150

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0151

Nothing more beautiful than lightning against a sunrise or sunset. Awesome morning out near the Four Peaks

This storm displayed weak supercell structures for a bit as it moved through the town of Picacho, AZ

A monster shelf cloud moves towards the small community of San Manuel in southeastern Arizona

A late season haboob rolls towards Phoenix with the setting sun turning the dust and clouds all shades of purple and orange.

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0156

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0157

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0158

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0159

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0160

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0161

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0162

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0163

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0164

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0165

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0167

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0168

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0169

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0170

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0166

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0171

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0172

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0173

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0175

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0176

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0177

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0178

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0179

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0180

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0181

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0182

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0183

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0184

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0185

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0186

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0187

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0188

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0189

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0190

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0191

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0193

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0194

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0195

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0196

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0197

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0198

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0199

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0200

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0201

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0202

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0203

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0204

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0205

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0206

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0207

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0208

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0209

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0210

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0211

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0212

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0213

mikeolbinski-bestof2016-0214

The Kruckenberg Family

Brian is the pastor at our church (New City in downtown Phoenix) and I’ve been doing this family’s photos for years now. As always, it’s so much fun watching how the kiddos change and grow! We explored a little area at Piestewa Peak and caught some wonderful evening light.

kruckenberg-final-0001

kruckenberg-final-0032_stomp

kruckenberg-final-0027

kruckenberg-final-0049

kruckenberg-final-0018

kruckenberg-final-0022_stomp

kruckenberg-final-0035

kruckenberg-final-0037

kruckenberg-final-0011_stomp

kruckenberg-final-0060

kruckenberg-final-0063_stomp

kruckenberg-final-0066

kruckenberg-final-0070_stomp

kruckenberg-final-0055

kruckenberg-final-0076_stomp

kruckenberg-final-0084

kruckenberg-final-0083_stomp

kruckenberg-final-0078

kruckenberg-final-0090_stomp

kruckenberg-final-0007

kruckenberg-final-0101

kruckenberg-final-0094

kruckenberg-final-0098

kruckenberg-final-0107

kruckenberg-final-0109

kruckenberg-final-0114

kruckenberg-final-0120

kruckenberg-final-0121

kruckenberg-final-0123

The Hedges family

Love seeing this family again and again. From Pat and Chrystal’s wedding to this little cutie that joined the group. Wishing them the very best this Christmas!

hedges-final-0007

hedges-final-0009

hedges-final-0011

hedges-final-0021

hedges-final-0024

hedges-final-0031

hedges-final-0032

hedges-final-0033

hedges-final-0034

hedges-final-0035

hedges-final-0039

hedges-final-0041

hedges-final-0049

hedges-final-0058

hedges-final-0064

hedges-final-0067

hedges-final-0074

hedges-final-0036

hedges-final-0075

hedges-final-0079

hedges-final-0085

hedges-final-0086

hedges-final-0076

hedges-final-0092

hedges-final-0095

hedges-final-0105

hedges-final-0077

hedges-final-0109

hedges-final-0111

hedges-final-0115

hedges-final-0121

hedges-final-0123

The Thompson Family

I met Danya so many years ago at Misti’s wedding, and then again at Cori’s wedding and finally we connected for a family session all this time later. And it was a blast. Love that little boy and all the smoke bomb madness was incredibly fun.

Here are the photos.

thompson-final-0004_stomp

thompson-final-0010

thompson-final-0011_stomp

thompson-final-0013

thompson-final-0018

thompson-final-0021

thompson-final-0024

thompson-final-0027

thompson-final-0032

thompson-final-0033

thompson-final-0035

thompson-final-0042

thompson-final-0043

thompson-final-0044_stomp

thompson-final-0053

thompson-final-0055

thompson-final-0059

thompson-final-0061

thompson-final-0062_stomp

thompson-final-0069

thompson-final-0070

thompson-final-0072

thompson-final-0073

thompson-final-0075

thompson-final-0077

thompson-final-0079

thompson-final-0088

thompson-final-0091

thompson-final-0094

thompson-final-0095_stomp

thompson-final-0109

thompson-final-0112

thompson-final-0115

thompson-final-0117

thompson-final-0119

thompson-final-0122

thompson-final-0125

thompson-final-0126

thompson-final-0127

thompson-final-0133_stomp

The Addington Family

I photographed Michelle and Scott’s wedding a few years ago and here they are with this little princess. And that epic dog. Time flies.

addington-final-0003

addington-final-0007

addington-final-0008

addington-final-0010

addington-final-0012

addington-final-0016

addington-final-0018_stomp

addington-final-0022

addington-final-0024

addington-final-0027

addington-final-0031_stomp

addington-final-0034

addington-final-0037

addington-final-0043

addington-final-0044

addington-final-0051

addington-final-0056

addington-final-0058

addington-final-0059

addington-final-0061

addington-final-0064

addington-final-0068

addington-final-0075

addington-final-0076

addington-final-0077

addington-final-0073

addington-final-0082

addington-final-0098_stomp

addington-final-0100

addington-final-0090