When I moved to Missoula in 2013 with my long term partner of 11 years, I can't say I had ever taken the time to really appreciate wildflowers. But after spending a few Montana springs hiking in Pattee Canyon, I couldn't help but take note of the beautiful wildflowers that would present themselves year after year. I began to notice the rolling waves of beautiful color that would wash over the forest floor... first the magnificent yellow glacier lilies, then fields of golden arrowleaf balsamroot, stunning blue and purple lupine, and on and on throughout spring and summer. I began to anticipate wildflower season and look forward to the friendly blooms that would grace our beloved Pattee Canyon after the long Montana winters. I had fun searching for and then identifying flowers that were harder to spot, such as pasqueflowers, pink fairy slippers, lady slippers, and spotted coralroot.

Artist Statement

Photo credit: Candice Ilia

Eventually I started photographing these Spring Beauties more intently, spending less time hiking and more time behind the camera. I began to hone my technical skills with the camera and dove into the wonderful world of macro photography. It was through the creation of these wildflower portraits that I began to appreciate form and to control light and composition. I believe it was here in the forest, camera in hand, where I discovered the joy of photographing natural beauty, and ultimately where my love of photography is rooted.