Meet Kerry Neils. You may know Kerry from our annual Stockman Calendar. His stunning Montana photos always appear at least a few times within its pages! It may surprise you to know that Kerry is actually a Vice President, Portfolio Manager for our Wealth Management team in Helena. In conversation with Kerry we learned that whether he is analyzing market prices or showing us Montana through his camera lens, his creativity knows no limits.
Q: How long have you been taking pictures?
I have been taking pictures since I was in middle school. My love for bird hunting and being outdoors coupled well with wildlife photography. By 20, I was busy with work and other aspects of my life so I stopped taking photos. 35 years later my wife, Laurie, bought me a digital camera and I fell in love with photography all over again!
Q: How long have you been a Wealth advisor?
It doesn’t seem possible, but I have been working professionally in the investment world for 32 years! I don’t know where the time went.
Q: What you do professionally is a very left-brained career but taking photos is very right-brained. Is there any overlap between these two passions?
I guess the common denominator is that I started both photography and investment analysis, in an amateurish way, when I was still a child. My dad had subscribed to Barron’s Magazine for many years and he kept all the old issues. Barron’s published tables of each week’s high, low, close and volume for most US stocks. With graph paper, pencil and ruler I would plot the high, low, close and volume for every week over the past four or five year’s worth of data. I kept all the charts up to date with each new week’s data as it became available.
In addition, I believe that a bit of deliberate analysis of a scene or a landscape, or of the ambient light, makes a better photograph than just “winging it”. So both investment management and photography involve art as well as science.
Q: What is your most memorable photo excursion and why?
That’s a tough one! There have been many great trips to Glacier National Park, the Rocky Mountain Front, Jewel Basin, Flathead Valley, the Cabinet Mountains, and so many others. It’s a long list with great memories.
I’d rather talk about an exceptional, little-known area of Montana that I have visited many times. Grab a map and draw a triangle from Great Falls to Fort Benton to Lewistown and back to Great Falls. Contained within that triangle are a multitude of geological features on the landscape that are entirely unique. Lost Lake, for instance, is a basin carved into the earth when an ice dam broke. Today, it has left a remnant horseshoe shaped “dry falls” of Shonkinite rock that stands higher and broader than Niagara Falls.
Another place that comes to mind is Square Butte, which is north of Stanford. It is made from hard, igneous rock that formed when magma forced its way upward through the existing bedrock. The dark Shonkinite on its flanks makes it look like something out of a Tolkien novel.
Arrow Creek Breaks
One of my favorite places is the Arrow Creek Breaks. Arrow Creek currently flows in an old river channel 500 feet deep in some places, and is as much as two miles wide from rim to rim. Today, just a very small stream, it meanders along the bottom of this old ice-age river channel. You can also find huge, perfectly round spheres of hard, dark sandstone coming to light as the softer, lighter colored sandstone erodes away. They are called “concretions” and can be found all over the world ranging from pea to grape size. In Arrow Creek, however, the sandstones tend to be around eight feet in diameter! Ancient fossils of trilobite and ammonites have also been found in the sandstones of central Montana.
There you have it. Kerry Neils, portfolio manager on weekdays and photographer over the weekend. He truly wears many hats! Be sure to stop by any of our branches at the end of the year to pick up our 2020 calendar. I’m sure you will see a photo or two taken by Kerry.