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The year in photos: a look back at some of our best—and some of yours

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The Indy’s Year in Photos issue is a longstanding tradition, a retrospective showcase for some of our contributing photographers’ best work (and, frankly, a bit of a break for our hard-working reporters in what’s typically a holiday-shortened and news-light work week). This year we decided to mix it up a bit and invite readers to submit their own photos taken throughout the year in and around Missoula, because 1) we can hardly be everywhere, and 2) in this Instagram-happy age, nearly everyone’s a photographer. The collection we’ve compiled here is a hybrid of photos that appeared in the Indy during the past 52 issues and photos submitted by readers, one of whom is going to win a free custom framing job courtesy of Frame of Mind. And we like the reader-submitted results so much we’re going to do it again next year and shoot for an even bigger selection of Missoula moments. So crank up that camera and start clicking. If 2017 was any measure, 2018 will be over in the snap of a shutter.


On the cover: John Haines, the photographer of this week’s cover image, says, “I am a hobbyist when it comes to photography, but I have learned to take my camera with with me at all times. ‘Calling Neptune’ was taken Sept. 13 in Plains during the Sheep Gap fire. I was on a small mountain behind my parents’ home watching the Missoula-based Neptune planes and a DC-10 lay down a 3-mile arc of retardant that helped save many homes and farmlands.”


Correction: Several readers called and wrote to let us know that the caption accompanying this image misidentifies the aircraft as a Missoula-based Neptune Aviation plane. It’s not, of course. It’s an RJ85 tanker belonging to Spokane-based Aero-Flite, Inc. We regret the error.



In May, Missoula’s Sunrise Saloon hosted “Extreme Midget Wrestling.” Some 150 spectators watched performers including King Midget and Little Outlaw, part of a touring troupe produced by Dallas-based Center Stage Entertainment. Ernie Lee, who founded Montana’s Little People of America chapter with his wife, Kelly, in 2002, says the show recalls the days of exploitative circus freak shows. But according to Center Stage Vice President Chris Penoyer, “These guys, they’re living their dream. They travel all around the U.S. They stay in nice hotels. People want to take pictures with them, get autographs. They love it.” Photo by Amy Donovan.


View of the Moon Randolph Homestead’s annual Fall Gathering on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. Photo submitted by reader Brandon McMahon.


In late November, Josh Vanek interviewed Missoula music scene stalwart John Brownell about his latest band, Protest Kids, which includes, from left, John Fleming, Ryan Farley, Brownell and Dan Strachan. “Making music with these guys is just so uncomplicated and fun,” Brownell said. “We all come from similar places musically and we have all played together in the past. There are no hard creative differences, no unrealistic expectations, no dictatorship.” Photo by Amy Donovan.


On Waterworks Hill, June 24, 2017. Photo submitted by reader Huw Griffiths.


North Higgins Ave. at night, viewed from the peace sign on Waterworks Hill, Dec. 12, 2017. Photo submitted by reader Huw Griffiths.


“I was taking photographs at the fair and saw these young ladies walking by, and I remember thinking that their hair matched the colors of the tents and awnings.” Western Montana Fair, Aug. 10, 2017. Photo submitted by reader Neva Oliver.


“A global view of Missoula, looking across Brennan’s Wave on the Clark Fork to the Old Milwaukee Depot,” Nov. 18, 2017. Photo submitted by reader Harry Miller.


It’s been a busy year for Bozeman creationist/tech millionaire Greg Gianforte, who followed an unsuccessful 2016 run for Montana’s governorship with a successful 2017 special election campaign for the House of Representatives seat that came open when President Trump appointed the incumbent, Ryan Zinke, as his Secretary of the Interior. Gianforte gained national attention when he assaulted a reporter on the eve of Election Day, but snuck out a victory regardless, and spent much of his first months in office trying to avoid having a booking photo taken and then released. The mugshot was finally published in October. This isn’t it. Photo by Alex Sakariassen.


“I was walking across the Van Buren footbridge and was struck by the patterns of all the locks attached to it.” June 18, 2017. Photo submitted by reader Neva Oliver.


“It was a cold day and the ice crystals in the air were just right that the sunset lit up the whole valley. I used the panorama function on my phone to scan a small swath of the valley to capture the amazing light.” Taken on the North Hills trails, Jan. 17, 2017, looking south across Missoula into the Bitterroot Valley. Photo submitted by reader Jordan Goldsmith.


“A bronc rider struggles to hang on at the rodeo at this summer’s Western Montana Fair, Aug. 8, 2017.” Photo submitted by reader Harry Miller


This shot of encroaching ice was taken Jan. 13, 2017, on Rattlesnake Creek. Photo submitted by reader David Loewenwarter.


“This is an iPhone picture I took with no filter, and it’s my favorite moment I captured this year! It was one of those first sunny spring days where it felt really great to play outside. And it was the day that the kids I nannied and I taught their goat that jumping on the trampoline is way more fun than trying to eat it.” Photo submitted by reader Jessica Burbank.


“On a summer night in downtown Missoula, Richard Clarke plays piano with his dog while girls stop by, planning the rest of their evening adventure.” Photo submitted by reader Charlotte Nickel.

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