Photographers Scott and Jessi Gordon
turn outdoor traditions into heirlooms
Gordon shoots digital images of family members to use in a hunting-theme
portrait. Together with his wife, Jessi, Scott creates unique
montages that depict the subject's passions.
Standing on a ladder
on the side of a muddy rise, Scott Gordon towers over everyone around
him, but as a photographer with 25 years of newspaper and studio experience,
he knows some of the best pictures come from a high angle.
a group of camouflaged hunters to point shotguns high into the air.
They look as though they’re about to shoot Scott
off his ladder. Fortunately
the guns aren’t loaded.
Suddenly a Labrador
retriever shoots from the duck blind the hunters stand in and has to
be called back, seemingly disappointed there’s
nothing to retrieve. Scott and his wife, Jessi, work to rearrange
everyone and prepare for another shot as rain begins to fall on Schell-Osage
Wildlife Area near Nevada, Mo. Everyone piles into the blind together
and the photo shoot is put on hold.
The delay is nothing
unusual for Jessi and Scott who photograph outdoors in all sorts of
conditions while creating their Sporting
Life Studios portraits. The
couple, whose studio is located in Cameron, northeast of Kansas City,
have developed a unique style of portraiture using digital photography
to create montages of images centering on a sporting theme like hunting,
fishing, golf or just about anything a client is passionate about.
A typical Sporting Life Studio portrait involves several members
of a family, in this case five grandsons.
shoot involves the Chronister family from the Kansas City area who
are ducks hunters. The final picture will include individual portraits
of family members with their guns as well as their dogs all surrounding
an image of the family emerging from a duck blind, shotguns raised,
at Schell-Osage, one of their favorite places to hunt. The results,
Jessi says, will be treasured for generations.
“We want these
to be heirlooms, works of art that will still be hanging above the
fireplace mantel a hundred years from now,” says Jessi. “I
can image the young kids in these pictures someday showing them to
Scott and Jessi’s
traditional photography studio in Cameron, called Jesscott Images,
offers all the usual services found in small-town studios like wedding
photography and senior portraits. But when Scott began learning about
digital photography a few years ago he began thinking about combining
his own love of the outdoors with photography.
Scott grew up near
Meadville in north-central Missouri, a part of the state nationally
known for goose and duck hunting. Scott learned to hunt at an early
age and continued throughout his career as a newspaper reporter, photographer
Jessi is also comfortable
in the outdoors. Originally from the San Francisco Bay area, she earned
degrees in wildlife ecology and conservation and later moved to Missouri.
She met Scott while working as a naturalist at Wallace State Park near
Cameron where he worked at the local paper.
a duck-hunting family, guns raised, on location in a duck blind.
Scott admired the
paintings of wildlife artist Ralph J. McDonald who created a series
of scenes for Ducks Unlimited. Several of his paintings included a
grandfather figure looking down from the sky on a young boy with his
hunting dog. The paintings suggest
the passing of the hunting tradition from one generation to the next.
long as I’ve been a professional photographer I thought I could
create something like that if I just had the right tools,” says
when digital photography came along, I thought here’s
The first hunting
theme portrait the Gordons did was a senior picture for a young local
student who loved to deer hunt. Scott combined digital
images of him hunting with a rifle and a bow as well
as pictures of his mounted deer. The results were an unusual
portrait that thrilled the young man. Sporting Life Studios,
a separate business from their portrait studio, was soon
Jessi Gordon, also a photographer, stands in a duck blind and gives
her husband light readings.
we could take this to another level and do portraits of adult sportsmen,
maybe grandpas with generations of sportsmen coming up behind them,” says
Jessi and Scott,
members of Farmers’ Electric
Cooperative, interview the client to learn as much
as possible about their outdoor sport. Usually the
image features the client as the central figure with
vignettes of family members surrounding them.
the interview the Gordons discover what other details to include
in the portrait. One Chillicothe family drove to the duck blind in
an old International Scout, which Scott included in their photograph.
Another picture included a youngster who recently killed his first
wood duck, so Scott included an image of that species.
work hard to find out what’s important to them and try to
include that in their portrait,” says Jessi, also
an accomplished photographer who shoots along
side her husband.
Scott readies equipment on location.
The Gordons take
their clients into the field, often to their favorite hunting locations,
and shoot dozens of digital images of family members,
hunting dogs, gun closeups and other details like
duck decoys or deer or turkey mounts and, back
in the studio on a computer, meld the best images
together in a 15- to 20-hour process.
A Sporting Life Portrait,
with print dimension of 16-by-20 inches up to 30-by-40 inches, costs
between $1,000 and more than $3,000 depending on where the images for
the portrait are taken. Currently, they’re waiting to schedule
a portrait with a group of Texas friends who hunt in Mexico.
have developed a deeply personal way to capture in a photograph the
emotional bonds that develop between family members or
friends who love the outdoors.
“I always felt sportsmen would really go
for something like this. There’s
nothing else quite like this out there
photographically,” Scott says. “It’s
a way to remember the traditions of whatever
outdoor passion you have.”
For more information about Sporting Life Studios contact the Gordons
at 113 West Third St., Cameron, MO, 64429; 1-866-749-7767.