Jeffrey Conger, Mentor Extraordinaire, Hot Rod Photographer

Posted Apr. 23rd, 2012 by Daniel J. Cox

A good friend of mine, Jeffrey Conger, who is a professor of design and program chair at Montana State University, also has a passion for motor sport photography. This past week he showed a collection of his documentary work in the bygone days of custom hot rod cars. Jeffrey has a long list of automotive editorial publications including American Rodder, Rod & Custom, Street Truck, and Hot Rod Magazine. These photos are a little slice of the Hot Rod Kings exhibit which he recently hosted at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. Along with his love for photography, he regularly donates his time to mentoring the many young people who come through his door and folks from Hatch.

Design mentor and hot rod photographer extraordinaire Jeff Conger poses for the camera. His work Hot Rod Kings on exhibit at his opening show at Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana.

I first met Jeffrey a number of years ago during our time working with Hatch. What is Hatch? As described from their website, “HATCH is a bi-annual four day experience that energizes creative professionals and thought leaders who are serious about transforming their ideas and talents into bold action, while inspiring others to do the same.”  Click here to visit Hatch on the web.  Hatch came about by way of Yarrow Kraner, a Montana State University graduate who felt young graduates needed a hand to make contacts within the creative industry. Yarrow is an interesting story himself.  I’ve been involved with Hatch over the years and have always found it to be incredibly inspiring.

Daniel Cox, Jeff Conger and Kristie Peck at the opening of Jeff’s show Hot Rod Kings at Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana.

Each year Jeffrey takes a group of his design students to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks for  one week per park to shoot photographs. After the in-field excursion they stop by our studio to hear, from a so-called professional, what it’s like to make a living in the business of photography.

Jeffery Conger’s group of photography students in Hayden Valley during their annual Yellowstone photo workshop.

He realizes the importance of taking the students to the field to inspire their passion, and then having them come down to earth by stopping by Dan’s shop to get a dose of reality. We’re kind of like a tag team.

Jeffrey Conger’s photography students visit the Natural Exposures studio in Bozeman, MT.

I love working with these young people, and our connection to the university has given us access to amazing new talent in students who are excited to intern. We’ve actually hired three interns over the years: Jill, my assistant who is still with us, BJ Kirschhoffer, who was with us for 3-4 years and now works with Polar Bears International (so we see him every day since PBI and Natural Exposures share office space), and now our newest addition, Kristie Peck (in photo at the top of the page with Jeffrey and I) has been with us for several weeks. We’re hiring Kristie for at least a part time job at the end of her internship. So all in all it’s been a terrific, mutually beneficial relationship that works out to be a win/win for all concerned.

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