My week as a ninjagrapher!

Brian and I spent the last five days shooting at Lifest as a part of the ninjagraphers. Ninjagraphers are the photographers and videographers contracted through Life! Promotions to capture their events. I have a ton of photos and stories to share- but I’m going to start at the beginning of my week.
I had to do a headshot self-portrait to use in the publication of Hoopla, which will be coming out in two weeks.

I’m very excited for this new publication, although we’ll have to wait until the second issue to see my work on the cover- this month’s cover story comes from out-of-state.
I started jury duty on Wednesday. I was unhappy that the timing had to coincide with Lifest, because that’s one of my favorite events to shoot all year. I got up early to commute the whopping 1.5 miles to the courthouse…

…then waited patiently in the hallway…

…then turned off my phone. I had to sit through a few hours of jury selection, random number drawings, and lots of questions. I wasn’t selected, though, and I was able to make a break for it (legally!) and get packed for Lifest.

We packed up the cameras, overnight gear, and puppies…

…and headed to Oshkosh.
As a reminder, all photos on this blog are (c) Heidi Oberstadt, and the Lifest photos are (c) Life! Promotions.
Our work at Lifest is always an amazing time. It’s hard to explain the bond between our team- it’s a group of photographers, videographers, and editors who capture, sort, edit, upload, and build videos of the event. We’re a well-oiled volunteering machine.

That’s one of Lem’s (our team leader) portraits of the team. We spend the week logging lots of miles walking around, climbing, laying in the dirt, riding on a golf cart…

…and trying desperately to stay hydrated. We work in a TINY trailer next to the grandstand…

…and try to work as quickly and efficiently as possible. There are two married teams on the ninjagraphers, and the rest of the team has friends and families that graciously let us steal them away and work them to exhaustion during the festival. 🙂

We do have an incredible opportunity to shoot some world-class artists (like Switchfoot and Newsboys), but we have an even more wonderful chance to catch the joy, excitement, and faith of all those in attendance. We also get to meet a lot of awesome people! This year, we met a band from Kentucky called Too Many Drummers. Those guys are classically trained musicians, so we sat and geeked out about things like marimba, accordion, and the joys of teaching music and sharing it with others. We caught their second show, and we caught some great facial expressions, too!



I caught our friends, Bill and Darrell. They were ninjagraphers a few years ago, and we had a blast! I see them once a year, and they always make me smile.

I end up feeling so special at Lifest. Our job can be exhausting and stressful, but it is an amazing opportunity. I work with wonderful people, and after five years on the team, I have gotten to “know the ropes.” I get to wear a fancy lanyard with a fancy all-access pass and fancy backstage access.

It gets me to places like this:

Despite that, I still get really nervous being up on stage. I’m afraid I’m going to get in someone’s way or distract from the show. That’s part of why we’re “ninjas,” we try to be sneaky and not intrude. I’m not very good at that. When I come in a room, people almost always see me. I even wear black in the heat, but I’m not exactly flying under the radar. I’d have to stop smiling and glowing from the inside, and that’s not going to happen anytime soon. 🙂
Fort Fawley is my favorite place to hang out during the week.

Andy has an incredible food ministry going on over there- they feed us (delicious home-cooked REAL food!) and make sure we’re hydrated. In fact, they cook the best meals at Lifest!

They don’t even make me pull any meal shifts. 🙂

I can’t divulge their location- it’s top secret. 🙂 I did take Too Many Drummers over there for breakfast on Saturday, though.


They had plenty of watermelon to feed my addiction.

Thanks for everything, Fawley family! You are wonderful.
This is what it looks like from my point of view. I shot this view forwards…

…then turned around and shot this view, behind me!

Tracy and I are the only girls allowed on the stage to shoot. It’s an honor but comes with a lot of responsibility. Responsibility to shoot a self-portrait in an awesome place, anyway!

I always try to sneak around and find new places to shoot from. These are two of my favorite shots of Duncan- the drummer from Newsboys.


Lifest had their second annual 5K race this year.

Brian ran it with me, and we had a great time!

I think he liked it, but I don’t know if he’ll be running marathons anytime soon.

Lem and Nick gave our sweaty ninja bodies a ride back to the campsite to get changed and ready to shoot for the day.

It’s good to know people. 🙂 Sometimes, the ninjas all get together and be nerdy camera-y tech-y people together. Like this…

Here’s a few of my favorite shots from the week.



Those are Switchfoot. Just as exciting was the performance of the Black Star drumline from Madison.


Those little drummer kids absolutely stole my heart.

We stayed at my mother-in-law’s home for the week, and we had a full house with us, our pups, and Brian’s aunt and cousins- Jill, Mackenzie, and Allie. Brian’s aunt Jackie came for one of the concerts, too. 🙂





I talked with Tiffany Thompson…

…saw a fancy motorcycle show…


…heard Bob Lenz speak (Lifest is his party, really)…

…shot Family Force 5…

…was amazed at the crowd for Steven Curtis Chapman…

…and enjoyed an outdoor Catholic mass.



Lifest is always an incredible experience. It’s so exciting to be a part of something so big, and we love being able to make people happy. We get to give away private meet-and-greet invitations and prizes, and we get to put their photos up on the jumbotron. After another successful year, we were exhausted.
Our pups had a wonderful time running in the woods at Jean’s house, so they had a great week, too.


We were all ready to go home, though.

We came home to a warm house with a warm forecast for Monday, so we installed our new air conditioner in the office.

It’s now a comfortable 73 degrees in here!
Just when I thought my week couldn’t get any better, I found out that my billboard for Lee Ayers is up. It’s the first time that a photo of mine has been on a billboard!

My mom saw this photo and said, “When I told you the sky was the limit, I didn’t think your photos would be in the sky!” How cute.
This is a new milestone for me. Woo hoo! I’m off to celebrate.

Miles this year: 375.6

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