Travel Photographer

Tracing Family History through Montana

For 163 years, my family had a presence in Montana’s Madison Valley. In the 1860s, my ancestors, William H. Ennis and Myron D. Jeffers and their families settled on either side of the Madison Valley, establishing the towns of Ennis and Jeffers, which still bear their names. Since the ‘80s, my grandmother was the last to live in Ennis, in little home on Main Street between the bank and the library. When we could, my family would join her there for Thanksgivings and 4th of Julys. This year, we returned for the fourth and we did the usual things: went to the pancake breakfast fundraiser at the firehouse and the rodeo, watched the parade from the same spot we always had. But this time, the little house on Main Street was gone, now just an empty square of dirt. My grandmother wasn’t with us — she passed last October — and we celebrated her life at the little church in Jeffers she attended for decades. After the memorial,  I stayed in Montana with my family, and learned more about my family’s history than I’d ever known: about my ancestors who made home in this valley, those they relied on, those they displaced, and the ways people can be connected to a place and to each other. 

All images © Greta Rybus

Adventures in Zanzibar - An Island Gem of the Indian Ocean

Images from an adventure to Zanzibar, an island with a rich history and complex culture off the coast of Tanzania. Zanzibar reminded me from a favorite story, the title selection from a favorite collection of short stories: “The Shell Collector,” by Idaho-based writer, Anthony Doerr.

“Why this lattice ornament? Why these fluted scales, those lumpy nodes? Ignorance was, in the end, and in so many ways, a privilege: to find a shell, to feel, it, to understand only on some unspeakable level why it bothered to be so lovely. What joy he found in that, what utter mystery.

Every six hours the tides plowed shelves of beauty onto the beaches of the world, and here he was, able to walk out into it, thrust his hands into it, spin of piece of it between his fingers. To gather up seashells - each one an amazement- to know their names, to drop them into a bucket: this was what filled his life, what overfilled it.”

© Greta Rybus