WHEN TALENTED PROFESSIONALS TALK, WE LISTEN.
In this issue’s Shop Talk, western home journal introduces its readers to two Bozeman-based professionals who offer their unique talents and expertise to homeowners. Kene Sperry is a photographer who creates customized prints that connect the home’s interior space with the Yellowstone region’s natural wonders. Michael Rabb, lead attorney at Rabb Law Firm, worked as a real estate agent before going into law and offers his clients a value-added service when dealing with all matters “real estate.”
Kene Sperry Fine Art
Kene Sperry, Photographer
From a young age, art deeply influenced Kene Sperry, made an impact on his spirit, and amplified his ability to connect with people. Whether photographing Yellowstone National Park from a helicopter or a family in their home, Kene connects humans with the natural world and themselves. Through photographic arts, Kene strives to transcend mundane imagery and generate an emotive reaction…tapping into the emotions that make us human.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist and what motivated you?
I knew at a very young age of around 13 years old that I wanted to be a professional photographer. Even as a teenager, I knew I wanted to be a conduit of light in this world. I got my start by being interested in time, light, and space. Eventually, I earned a master’s degree in Film Photography and was trained in digital photography.
What project are you most excited about right now?
I am very excited about a personal project called the “Connection Project.” This is an experimental series I am doing with taking two portraits—one is before and one is after 5-10 minutes of eye contact with no talking. What is amazing is how I see us all surrender and, eventually, let go once we feel seen.
Describe your process and how you work with clients?
Art is so personal and I have a customized process of placing photography in homes. We begin by getting a feel for the space and ambient light. My architecture photographer shoots the space and my team puts together a mock layout of options. The client can see and feel how it will look on their walls. Through this virtual rendering, you don’t just see the art in the space, you feel it and have an emotional reaction to it. This helps the decision-making. We then create a customized print. Next, we do the framing and installation. My website, kenesperryart.com, is the best place to start the process.
What project are you most proud of?
I am proud of the constant reflection and patience of photographing the Greater Yellowstone region. I am going back to the same places and spaces during different times of the year to capture the one or two images that really resonate an emotional response.
What is your favorite season?
I love the transitions of each season as those are the most dramatic moments with shifts of light and space.
Do you have a favorite subject or a style you prefer or are known for?
I have photographed the light of human beings to the light of the landscapes that surround us. My favorite subject is what authentically moves me in the moment.
What words do people use to describe your work?
Emotional, depth, transportive, connective to the soul.
When we try to show everything, we see nothing. How do I capture a feeling of a place or a moment in time with a single image? A small change of perspective or a fraction of a second is sometimes the difference between a documented picture and a photograph that brings deep emotions.
What do you enjoy most about helping people create a home or business that reflects their lifestyle?
I believe that the people who have homes in the Greater Yellowstone/Big Sky area are coming here for the unique environment and energy of the pure beauty of the mountains, rivers, geysers, and wildlife. This is a place of belonging and peace. I want to show that with my photography.
Is there an artist whom you most admire and why?
Henri Cartier-Bresson—a French photographer who was all about capturing the decisive moment when people were their most authentic selves, unaware of a camera and fully present.
What places in the world do you find most inspirational and why?
I find when I am fully present in my body and all senses at one moment in time to be the most inspirational because it reminds me that our experience is all fleeting and it must be observed and received. What inspires me is the light in this world; the smallest diameter of light over time can create exposure in the darkest of places. This is fascinating and I believe we are most afraid of our infinite light within us.
What is sure to make you laugh?
My three kids make me laugh as they seem to stay present and in the now…while having fun along the way.
What do you enjoy most about living and working where you do?
I enjoy that I never clock in and never clock out. For me, the line between “work” and “not work” is blurred, as all moments in life can be art. Art is my life’s purpose, blurs distinctions, and bends time.
The Rabb Law Firm, PLLC
Michael Rabb, founder
Bozeman-based attorney Michael Rabb is charismatic by any standard. But it’s rare to find a real estate attorney who finds such bold-faced enjoyment in his work, a quality more commonly seen among the artists, builders, and designers who frequent these pages. Rabb has been in the real estate industry for over two decades, working in his earlier years as a real estate broker and right-of-way agent before attending law school. As founder and sole owner of The Rabb Law Firm, PLLC, he has grown his firm into a thriving real estate practice over the last five years and expanded into additional areas of law, all while continuing his daily work of assisting clients with complex legal issues.
Why would I call you instead of the next guy in the Google search results?
I think our advantages are two-fold. Both are philosophies in action, which I use personally and promote in the firm’s culture. The first edge is our focus on practicality. I started out as a real estate agent and worked in the business world, so I understand that my clients want the best solution they can get given other constraints, like time and resources. Some attorneys have been attorneys their whole lives, so they’re trained to give the most tedious and correct answer imaginable. Don’t get me wrong, I place a high value on being correct, but the difference is knowing when my client wants a yes or no, instead of a TED talk on easement law.
The second edge is simultaneously practicing transactional and litigation work. Most firms silo their attorneys into one or the other. My time practicing as a litigation attorney for a large firm in the Bay Area taught me how to write better contracts. On the flip side, if you never help a client close a deal, you start to lose sight of how the world is supposed to work before people start suing each other. There are other advantages, but the big picture is that I think doing both makes for stronger legal work overall.
How long have you been in business in Bozeman?
The firm started with just me in 2015, in what can only be described as a cubicle. I was confident in my ability as an attorney, but anybody who’s started a business knows that you’re always a little nervous on day one. The first call I got was a dispute involving a horse getting caught in a neighbor’s barbed-wire fence. The caller made it overly clear that their prize stallion wouldn’t be siring any more foals, and had accordingly depreciated rapidly in value. Things started improving after that. I was lucky to get a great corner office in the Willson Building, but we outgrew Main Street last year. It’s been hard work, but after the decision to start a family, hanging my own shingle has been the most rewarding decision I’ve ever made.
Will you keep growing?
We will continue to grow our legal team to offer services that meet our clients’ needs. For example, we’re excited to bring on an attorney next month who enjoys practicing employment law to the same degree that I love real estate law. Our goal is to match our passions and expertise with our clients’ needs. In the process, we’ll expand our services.
Are you concerned about maintaining quality of service?
Not at all. One reason I like real estate law is that a lot of it resembles a math problem. Running a law firm is similar, too. We have a model and it’s working. The difference is that people are involved, so the critical part is hiring excellent staff and getting them on board with our culture and attitudes. The rest flows from there. I only expect improvement in services, because more knowledge in the building means we can put more heads together for the really tough questions, and we can address more types of issues when a client liked us in one matter and wants to hire us for something different.
What geographic areas do you serve?
We are licensed to practice in six Western states, soon to be seven. Most of our work is throughout Montana. My years practicing in Arizona and California are invaluable to my understanding of how to handle issues under Montana law. As a member of multiple state bars, I have consistent exposure to how other attorneys are approaching similar issues. I keep myself informed on what’s happening outside our home turf too, since cases that come up on that larger landscape are indicative of issues affecting our greater industry.
What do you enjoy most about your line of work?
I enjoy meeting and working with new people. We represent clients across a large geographic area and in a diverse range of legal issues, so I have the opportunity to meet people from every walk of life. Whether our clients are involved in a contentious dispute or they’re enthusiastic about new development prospects, I enjoy providing solutions and affording security in complicated situations. It is extremely rewarding to assist in propelling our clients’ aspirations into reality.