ABOUT Craig W. Hergert
Montana Panoramic is an ongoing collection of photographs by Craig W. Hergert. Beginning in 1997, this collection of vast landscapes, mountain ranges, wilderness, rivers, parks, towns, wildlife, hunting and fishing images from all over the great state of Montana has grown to thousands of images, and continues to grow each day. Craig is a freelance photographer whose work is on display in galleries and businesses throughout the nation, and in private
collections all over the world.
Born and raised in Colorado, New Mexico and Montana, Craig was a budding artist from a young age - drawing, painting, and photographing the ranches, mountains and rivers he wandered as a child. He studied art and graphic design at MSU while working at a local bronze foundry, and landed his first job with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks that had him roaming the state building interpretative centers at state parks.
His passion for artistic creation blossomed, and he dreamed of making a living as a working artist. He continued to hone his craft while working in newspaper printing, construction, and retail marketing. In 2003, he took the leap and pursued photography full-time - he’s never looked back. He has won several international photography awards and was also given the Montana’s Treasured Artist award in 2008 (video link) by the Montana Secretary of State.
Craig has also published three widely acclaimed hard cover coffee table books titled “MONTANA: Skiing the Last Best Place”, with foreword by Warren Miller now in it's second printing, “Montana Panoramic Volume I: 1997-2007” now in it's third printing (now sold out), and his newest book released in February 2022, "Montana Panoramic: Transparent in the Backlight" written by Shann Ray.
Craig shooting on horseback on the Rocky Mountain Front Photo by Tim Murphy
THE BACK STORY:
My older brother was born in the small town of Sidney in Eastern Montana. Many times growing up my dad told stories of working for Holly Sugar as a field man, unloading sugar beets in 20 below zero blizzards, that of course, came in sideways. After only a year, they decided it was time to head south toward New Mexico to raise the family. However, my grandfather had also mesmerized my young imagination with the time he spent in Montana telling stories of the badlands of Glendive, Whitefish, Flathead Lake, Glacier, and the Choteau grasslands in the amazing Rocky Mountain Front. Deep down the seeds were planted, and in 1994 I began working in Yellowstone during my junior summer off from college, and never looked back. I had found my home.
Earlier, while studying fine art and graphic design at Eastern New Mexico University, we were beginning to work with some of the early Apple computers and a very exciting new program called Adobe Photoshop. The machines then were so slow, that even the most menial task of the simple darkroom technique of dodge and burn was a painful lesson in patience. I saw that the potential was there however, but after much time with chemicals and darkrooms, I soon became bored with the limitations and process of photography, and decided to put away the equipment to focus on painting and music.
After the summer in Yellowstone, and then Big Sky, I officially transferred to Montana State University attending through the National Student Exchange program. There I continued studying graphic design and spent a good deal of time wandering through the libraries. While at the library one night, I happened upon a book of old, scratchy, sepia toned black and white panoramic images of mines, cities, groups and landscapes of various places from the turn of the century, and was just simply captivated. My patience had paid off, inspiration was finally revealed and I slowly began to take photographs again.
In 1997, I started taking my own versions of these wide open views. I had spent a valuable summer after college as an intern for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks based in Helena, which allowed me to see many new corners of the state. I continued to work for Montana FWP as a contractor working on many installations all over, including my favorite at the Washoe Fish Hatchery in Anaconda.
Working for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks - Design & Interpretation 1996-98
Then, back in Bozeman, and after a few years into the corporate life as a graphic artist, I began searching for something more fulfilling than my day job. I worked at the Bozeman Daily Chronicle in the production department and had all the tools I needed at my fingertips such as the latest Macs, monitors, software and printers. I began experimenting late at night to try and recreate the old style panoramic vision. But instead of taping single prints together, or using conventional panoramic cameras and film, I started shooting and scanning series of slides and prints and ever so slowly piecing them together by hand using Photoshop, fresh with a brand new layer function that made it possible.
However, I was setting no trend, photographers were doing this all over the world. But the process was new to me, and it woke up the creative juices. I couldn’t sleep for weeks dreaming of the endless possibilities! I wanted to do nothing but take photos and paint, but that seemed impossible. The odds are against surviving as an artist in Montana, or anywhere for that matter. It took quite awhile to get the courage up to quit my steady day jobs. I moved on to run the marketing department of a Big R Ranch & Home (now Murdoch's) for several years. I enjoyed the work and was able to go out shooting early in the morning, nights and weekends to start building the portfolio, and of course save a little money to fund future photo expeditions. I knew deep down it was not what I was supposed to be doing with my life, and it was time to take the leap of faith.
Finally, with a strong desire to get out of the corporate office life, I took a solo backpacking trip in Maui in the spring of 2003 to do a little soul searching and go to a college friends wedding. It was my first real photo vacation, and after standing on the top of a Haleakala volcano and then an evening pondering the waves of my beach camp, I decided now was the time.
I quit my job the day I got back home to Bozeman, and have never looked back. Soon built a studio in the garage of my small Northeast neighborhood home, maxed the credit cards to buy some new equipment and the rest is history. Granted, I spent quite a bit of initial time doing construction, building fences and shooting real estate to pay the bills, but I would not have had it any other way. The learning process of building a business takes all types of influences to make it work, and I’ve luckily had my share.
"I am very lucky to be able to live my dream and passion as my profession. I would like to thank all my art teachers, mentors, friends and fellow artists who have inspired and helped me along the way, to whom I am eternally grateful. To my parents, grandparents and all of my extended family, from immigrant homesteaders, farmers and ranchers to honest businessmen who showed me that the American dream is real with determination, hard work and a little bit of luck. I am honored to be able to live this dream as my livelihood, and I thank everyone for your help and for your patronage that allows me continue with this passion…of capturing the landscape."
All the best...
At Makoshika State Park near Glendive in 2006.
In the field over the years.
The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, Cowboys and Indians, Big Sky Journal, Montana Magazine, Western Art and Architecture, Outside Bozeman Magazine, Distinctly Montana Magazine, Seattle Times, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Helena Independent Record, Flathead News Group - Daily Interlake, Billings Gazette, Montana Standard, Lively Times, & The Great Falls Tribune.
Cabela’s, SIMMS, The State of Montana, University of Montana, Mercury CSC, Massive Studios, Brickhouse Studios, Flying Horse Communications, Partners Creative, CZ Strategy, Classic Ink, The Element Group, Murdochs Ranch & Home, MacKenzie River Pizza - Glacier Restaurant Group, Locati Architects, A&E Architects, Brechbuhler Architects, Bridger Steel, Bridger Mountain Log Homes, TLC Builders, C&H Engineering, Andreassi Custom Homes, Best Western Grantree Hotels, The City of Bozeman, Montana State University, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, 1st Interstate Banks, Western States Insurance, Moonlight Basin Resort, Pure West - Christies, Fay Ranches, Hall & Hall, The Yellowstone Club, Montana Real Estate Company, Jordan & Company RE, ERA Landmark, Jefferson Energy, and many private commissioned shoots.
COMMERCIAL & PUBLIC INSTALLATIONS:
Montana State University Library - permanent collections, Montana State Senate offices/Washington DC, SIMMS, Cabela’s US/Canada, Glacier Restaurant Group, MacKenzie River Pizza - Bozeman, Helena, and Kalispell, MT, Spokane, WA, Bismark, ND, Pocatello, CoerD’Alene and Idaho Falls, ID, Carmel, IN, Western States Insurance Bozeman & Missoula, Bozeman Deaconess Hospital, Xcentric - Bozeman.
Interested in licensing an image for commercial use? E-Mail me for more info.
Installation in the Simms headquarters in Bozeman
DONATIONS AND FUNDRAISING SUPPORT FOR:
Eagle Mount, THRIVE, Big Brothers-Big Sisters, Emerson Center of for the Arts, Montana Conservation Voters, Montana Watershed Coordination Council (MWCC), Montana Ethic Project, Montana PBS, Montana Special Olympics, Museum of the Rockies, Montana Wildlife Federation, American Wildlands, The Crown of the Continent.