Giving Back

Photography for a Cause

Whitefish photographer Chuck Haney’s annual presentation showcases his year’s work and raises money for the North Valley Food Bank

By Micah Drew
Northern Lights over Werner Peak Fire Lookout Tower in the Stillwater State Forest, Montana, USA. Photo by Chuck Haney

In three decades as a professional photographer, Whitefish’s Chuck Haney has done it all — traveled the world, covered high school basketball tournaments, published coffee-table books, taught workshops, shot tens of thousands of photographs and displayed his work in multiple galleries. 

And while it may be impossible to sum up even a fraction of his work, Haney does just that with an annual live show at the O’Shaughnessy Center, where he shares a curated selection of his year’s work and hosts a question-and-answer session. The Dec. 30 show also serves as a fundraiser for the North Valley Food Bank, Haney’s way of giving back to the community where his photography career took off. 

“It’s a laid back and fun night,” Haney said of the multimedia show that he’s hosted for at least 20 years. “Way back when, I used to do it with slides and a projector. It’s just such a great way to show off my new images and tell the stories behind them.”

“And even more than the images themselves, the cause is key,” Haney added. “I don’t know how many articles I’ve read recently about how much more need there is for food banks. There’s nothing more vital than getting people fed, and it really makes the whole evening even better knowing we’re all giving back.”

For this year’s show, Haney will be displaying a few segments that highlight his recent work, including one focused on ice, two collections from around America, and a consortium of European scenes. 

His opening collection focuses on the accumulation of photos detailing ice formations throughout the years. The wide-ranging series includes everything from eye-catching shots of Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park to scenes from a winter spent in Iceland.

The international component is a relatively recent addition to Haney’s repertoire. After spending decades photographing western landscapes in Montana and covering “every nook and cranny in the state,” Haney says he remains engaged as a professional photographer by leading photography workshops around the world. 

“I have a relatively devoted following, and people don’t want to photograph the same park or region each year,” Haney said. “That’s expanded my reach quite a bit, and so I’ve been encouraged to go abroad.”

To plan for such extensive travel with larger groups, Haney and his wife often scout locations a year in advance. This year his travels included the Czech Republic and Portugal, with frames from both making it into the show. 

“The show comes together with a nice mix between the international scenes and my more local destinations that people enjoy,” Haney said. 

Narrow cobblestone streets at dawn with Castle Tower in historic Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic. Photo by Chuck Haney

One of Haney’s favorite shots from this year happened on a day when he was biking through the Flathead Valley, looking to take a new image of canola fields in full bloom. As he biked south from Whitefish, he noticed some “crazy clouds” billowing up above the south valley. 

“It coincided with sunset, there was lightning inside these clouds, rainbows inside these clouds, it was just insane,” Haney said. “It’s the kind of thing you might see once every few decades, where nothing looks real.”

Another memorable image for Haney took place when he was in the Whitefish Range at the Werner Peak fire lookout with his wife. 

“I saw this year there was a possibility of northern lights, and that’s always exciting but you also get skunked a lot when you’re looking for northern lights,” he said. 

From the top of the mountain he set his alarm and got up at midnight to check the sky. Nothing. 

At 3 a.m. he woke up again. Still nothing. 

Then, just before dawn broke in the east, Haney opened his eyes and peered out the lookout windows to see the sky come alive. 

“The entire sky was just dancing with northern lights,” he said. “I lit up the lookout tower with my headlamps then just watched in amazement. I told my wife: ‘Give us another 30 years and we’ll never see a night like this again.’”

Chuck Haney is hosting a digital presentation of his work to benefit the North Valley Food Bank.
Where: O’Shaughnessy Center, Whitefish
When: Dec. 30 at 7:30 p.m.
Price of admission is a donation of food for the North Valley Food Bank.

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