Sitting, waiting, snapping
Big Sky photographer Dave Pecunies opens shop in the Town Center
Before local photographer Dave Pecunies began snapping photos professionally, he found himself on the flip side of the photo.
While working at Sunday River ski resort in Maine, Pecunies skied for a number of photographers, and that’s where he got to know “the other side of the camera.” He’d always had a passion for photography, so when some of the photographers recognized that, they took him under their wings, showing him the ins and outs of getting a great photo.
“I’ve been fortunate to work with some really great photographers,” Pecunies said, recalling the days when he’d worked as a photo assistant. “And, some really great photo editors as well. Those people helped me find my eye, and what to look for.”
That love of the art of photo taking blossomed during the time digital video was emerging. Seeing opportunity in the new form of media, Pecunies decided to take his passion for photos and focus it toward the growing video venue, going on to run a TV station for Sunday River for 13 years.
Pecunies still does videos, ones for Big Sky Resort come to mind, as well as with his two sons, 10 and 11.
“Skiing, and the way they look at the mountain, is just a little different than the way an adult would,” said Pecunies, recalling their fun during the recent opening weekend at the resort.
Pecunies and his family relocated to Big Sky about four years ago—as Boyne resort employees they came to Big Sky to take an affordable ski trip with that employee benefit. They fell in love with the skiing and the community, deciding to make it their home—selling their house, quitting their jobs, and starting anew.
“Coming from a small New England community, we knew this was where we wanted to be,” he said.
Pecunies’ career as a photographer continued when he got to Big Sky, initially freelancing and traveling before he honed things in, and he’s now able to say he’s a full-time photographer. His wife Callie was a broker for Sotheby’s, so she carried that expertise with her to Big Sky.
One of the subjects Pecunies gravitates toward is architecture, “I’ve always been into carpentry, although I’m not a great carpenter, I appreciate it, and one of the things I love is shooting architecture.”
That comes into play in his career via real estate photography, which keeps his schedule happily busy nowadays. “Plus, I get to hang out at some incredible places around here.”
Turning to some of the prints on the wall of his newly opened store in the Town Center, Pecunies explained that some of his wildlife and landscape photos were actually taken from home sites where he’d been initially taking real estate photos.
It’s mainly those themes capturing the natural beauty of the region that line the walls of the combined office of Dave Pecunies Photography and Stay Montana. From the classic looks at Lone Mountain to Ousel Falls and the iconic bighorn sheep and mountain goats, Pecunies’ prints are a showcase of Yellowstone National Park and Big Sky’s splendor.
Having Yellowstone basically in his backyard has been a perk for Pecunies, who heads to the park year round.
“It doesn’t matter what time of the year you go, as long as you get there early enough,” he said, describing successful sunrise shoots where he’s done getting his images and heading out of the gate as the crowds are just pouring in.
To get those snow-white mountain goat photos, Pecunies said he talks with resort ski patrol for intel as to where the brave animals are from day to day.
“I’m chasing goats around all the time,” he said. “It’s about having the patience, going up there, and just walking around and looking. It’s the same thing with other wildlife—you’re not just going to pull up, get out, and snap a great picture. It’s about sitting around and waiting, watching.”
Ski photos also remain a staple for Pecunies, from capturing kids on the slopes to extreme skiing a little further up the mountain. To secure that fleeting image in time, he said he comes to the shoot with a plan, and setting things up quickly.
“It’s also about spending time on the hill, and knowing the location, so that when you’re out with people you can bring them to these spots,” he said. “I’ll have skied in the area before, and thought, ‘Ok, I’ve got to get this photo, have someone ski though on a powder day.’” Insider tip: it also helps to have a really fast camera.
Before the opportunity to showcase his work in a shop came about, Pecunies said he sold many of his images online or through social media interest. So when his friends Chris and Jen Torsleff—owners of the vacation rental business Stay Montana—asked if he wanted to line the walls of their store with his prints, it was a no-brainer decision. “It’s been a really great opportunity,” said Pecunies.4