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Making it in Big Sky: Dave Pecunies Photography

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Big Sky photographer and videographer Dave Pecunies relocated to Big Sky more than six years ago. His professional photography journey began, in part, on the other side of the lens while as a ski model in New Hampshire. PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVE PECUNIES

By Brandon Walker EBS STAFF

BIG SKY – For the greater part of six years, professional photographer and videographer Dave Pecunies has chronicled a multitude of subjects, namely the land, animals and real estate that Big Sky has to offer. Pecunies is a Portsmouth, New Hampshire native with a passion for skiing and the outdoors. Naturally, he found his way to Big Sky in 2015.

“My inspiration to start taking photos had a lot to do with just documenting various skiing adventures around New England and Quebec and that led to shooting other outdoor sports,” Pecunies said in an email to EBS.

Prior to his relocation to the Treasure State, Pecunies earned a degree in business administration from the University of New Hampshire. His photography career is partially rooted in a role he held on the opposite end of a camera lens. 

“I skied as a photo model for several photographers and would always ask lots of questions,” Pecunies said. “When they realized I was interested in photography they would show me what they were doing, how they were envisioning the action, how they were composing their shots.”

Fueled by insatiable curiosity and drive, those questions and the knowledge he gained led to a management position at the Maine-based Sunday River Ski Resort for the Outside Television station. 

After finding a new home for his gallery at the building previously occupied by the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce near the intersection of Highway 191 and Highway 64, Pecunies exchanged emails with EBS on a range of topics, such as photography for demand versus enjoyment, and the progression of his imagery over the years to name a few.

Explore Big Sky: In your opinion, how has the photography industry changed over the years?

Dave Pecunies: “I think the main change that we have seen in the photography industry is how much easier taking photos and seeing your work has become. I started in the film days and you never knew if you got the shot until you got your film back from processing. Now it’s instant. More recently, since most everyone has a camera on their phone, it has made photography accessible to most everyone.”

EBS: As a professional photographer, has your business approach adapted over time? How so?

D.P.: “If you don’t adapt in business then you will get left behind. I would shoot skiing every day if I could but that is just not financially feasible at this point. However, I’ve taken my love of architecture and design into photography and can now afford to eat. Also, opening a gallery has been another creative outlet for me and has allowed me to share my art with more people. I think the other thing that I’ve adapted to is social media and its immediacy, especially in the marketing world. At least with skiing, nobody wants to see a photo from last week, they want something from today.”

EBS: How do you prioritize shooting photographs for enjoyment versus shooting to meet demand?

D.P.: “I am fortunate in that I generally get to shoot what I enjoy. Certainly there are bluebird powder days that I am stuck inside but I love storm skiing so I can’t complain. Because we live in such a beautiful area, I’m often lucky enough to capture great wildlife or scenic shots on my way to a paying gig.”

EBS: Have you found yourself taking on new projects or coming up with new ideas as a result of the pandemic?

D.P.: “The beginning of the shutdown was certainly a time to reflect and reevaluate priorities and try and forecast what the business environment would look like in one month, six months, one year and beyond. I took on more video work at the beginning of the pandemic when there was some uncertainty. However since the Big Sky real estate industry had a record summer, I ended up having the busiest summer I’ve ever had shooting homes and other commercial projects.”

EBS: What business changes or adaptations have you made as a result of COVID-19?

D.P.: “My job is pretty socially distant to begin with since I’m mostly shooting unoccupied homes or waiting in the wilderness for the perfect wildlife shot, so I really haven’t had to alter things too much. Just wearing a mask and being careful when I’m around others.”

EBS: What advice would you offer aspiring photographers?

D.P.: “I always tell people that photography is like learning a language, playing a sport, or math—the more you practice the better you will become, so keep shooting. If you really want to get into a specific type of photography, find a professional photographer that will let you assist. You won’t make much/any money being an assistant but the experience can be priceless.”

EBS: What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?

D.P.: “’Choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life.’” “’If you don’t do it this year, you will be one year older when you do.’” – Warren Miller

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