Erika (the mom) is a planner. So is her dad. He booked the airbnb a year out and ordered the glasses at about the same time. Erika designed amazing solar eclipse shirts and got ahold me early this past spring for the possibility of having me along for the day to document their family’s trip from Maine to Idaho to watch the very rare solar eclipse. I thought it was a grand idea and waived any travel fees for the opportunity to go along to photograph a family on such a unique occasion. And this was clearly their family’s thing since eight of them came most of the way across the country to see it in the place that offered the best chance of clear weather and reduced traffic.
I came to Island Park the night before and spent the night with them, then we got up early and took off around 7am. We were at least the third caravan to depart from the sparse subdivision where the airbnb was. Once we hit the main north-south highway it took a little while for a gap to open up, then it was bumper to bumper for the next couple hours to Sugar City. I was quite impressed with the display that little town put on, complete with inflatable jungle gyms and slides for the kids and the neighbors selling food off their front yards.
The eclipse was like any eclipse – the sun was partially blocked, it got a little darker, even a little cooler. But then when totality struck, it was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It lasted for a couple minutes and it got DARK. Dark enough that I was really pushing the abilities of my camera to get usable images. I was able to turn around a few times to see it, but I tried hard to make a good photo out of this spectacular, short-lived event. That turned out to happen when the eclipse was over and the first cracks of light snuck around the moon and lit us all back up again (and gave my camera a reprieve from shooting in the dark). You’ll see the looks on the faces that I am talking about in the slideshow.
After a little more playing for the kids we took off and headed north, along with everybody else who lived in SW Montana. It took quite a bit longer to get back (three hours?), but we arrived at the Eagle Ridge Ranch just before the family’s scheduled 4pm trail ride. I photographed the preparation for that before heading back north to Montana myself.
I hope you enjoy this really unique Day in the Life family session from solar eclipse totality!