Hope For The Holidays

It’s that time of year when photographers everywhere are culling together their top picks of the 2010. Personal assessment certainly has value as does making time for reflection.

However, I’ve been just too busy these past several weeks to evaluate the bigger picture. My focus [pun intended] has been on completing editorial assignments – which have been in abundance of late – and tending to several client projects. Perhaps, I’ll carve out time for a photographic retrospective before year’s end. [Probably not, but you never know!]

In the meantime, I’ll share a few images from a recent assignment with The Village Family Magazine. This story of hope, which appears in the magazine’s December/January 2011 issue, features a 9-year-old girl from Moorhead, Minn. It truly was a pleasure to meet and photograph Signe Harris, a leukemia survivor, and her family.

Enjoy! Ann

Hope For The Holidays

Hope For The Holidays

Hope For The Holidays

Hope For The Holidays

Hope For The Holidays

Community Energy Challenge in Rothsay, Minn.

Editorial assignments with Minnesota Public Radio [yes, public radio!] remain among my favorites in 2010. Yet, the assignments are also often uniquely challenging. Here’s why:

Sometimes I’m asked to accompany a reporter – so we literally go together on an assignment. Photographers and reporters working in tandem or collaboration is a good thing in my book.

However, the trick with radio reporters is they are always, always, always collecting sound. The only sounds they don’t want – as far as I know – are my camera shutter and me chattering away. So, when I work with a radio reporter I try to be thoughtful about when I’m photographing, how often I’m making pictures and what I’m doing with my body, voice and gear. I photograph less aggressively and if there is a situation I know I should photograph I let the reporter know that in advance, if possible. I feel it’s a matter of respect.

So, everything I just wrote wasn’t true for my most recent MPR assignment. It was more like a traditional news assignment. I was on my own with a limited amount of time in Rothsay, Minn., a town of 510 people located 40 miles southeast of Moorhead. The story was about how the town takes on an energy conservation challenge. The assignment seemed easy enough.

Turns out that many of the improvements, audits, inspections and so forth were already complete. No photos there. Local students had previously gone door-to-door to ask residents to sign a pledge to use less energy. No photos there. A Tuesday evening class aimed at teaching residents to better understand utility bills might generate a couple of photos. [People and computers don’t typically make great photos, but sometimes you’ve got to work with the less than ideal.] So, with that activity in place I found myself roaming Rothsay in the dark. [Not really, but it kind of felt that way. It’s really dark in Rothsay after the sun goes down.]

What I decided to do was to try to come up with a couple of photographs at the class as well as some from the gym or school – where many improvements have already been made. I also made arrangements to visit resident Jeanette Geer who won a home makeover as part of the energy challenge project. I knew her granddaughter would be home and that family had received some new appliances. Whenever I have an opportunity to photograph in someone’s home I know there are photographs to be made. When I said good-bye to Jeanette it was great to hear that I was easy to be around and the experience had been a good one.

To learn more about the project or to see how much energy the community saves check out: http://www.energychallengeison.com/rothsay/.

Best, Ann

Community Energy Challenge in Rothsay, Minn.

Community Energy Challenge in Rothsay, Minn.

Community Energy Challenge in Rothsay, Minn.

Energy Challenge in Rothsay, Minn.

Community Energy Challenge in Rothsay, Minn.

Photographs from Winnipeg, Canada

Photographer friend Britta Trystad and I just returned from a quick trip from Fargo-Moorhead to Winnipeg, Manitoba. We spent about 31 hours in transit. The purpose of the photo-based outing was simply to seek out colors, lines, textures and anything else of visual interest.

The creative exercise served as a reminder to me of how important it is to step outside your routine and away from your regular stomping grounds. Watching [and photographing] the light shift early Saturday morning was pure pleasure. I’m feeling energized and excited about several upcoming projects.

Happy Sunday, Ann

Photographs from Winnipeg, Canada

Photographs from Winnipeg, Canada

Minnesota Photographer

Our family discovered the most wonderful, magical place near Battle Lake, Minn., a few weeks ago. If Minnesota ever had an undiscovered treasure list, Glendalough State Park certainly belongs on it.

It’s a fairly new park, established in the early 1990s, and features cart-in camping. Load your cart and haul your stuff. It’s a great concept. The campground is within walking distance to two swimming spots and plenty of other activities.

For two nights we called site No. 17 home. I found two dream catchers in nearby trees and photographed them multiple times. Little M. and I made shadow puppets on our tent walls. A strong breeze helped keep the bugs at bay. The weekend outing was a great way to carve out a chunk of family time.

Speaking of spending time away, journal entries here will be less frequent for the next week or two. I’m currently traveling and expect to have limited access to the Internet and phone service. My plan had been to stockpile a few posts and publish them in my absence; however, time ran short and I had to let something go. Here’s to happy travels.

Best, Ann

Little M.

Campsite Details

Little M.

Clay County Fair + Red River Valley Fair

A few weeks back fellow photographer Britta Trygstad and I decided to partake in a shared photo adventure. We went to the Red River Valley Fair in West Fargo, N.D., and a few days later took in the Clay County Fair in Barnesville, Minn. The premise was to go to the same event for the same amount of time and compare images afterward. There may be a larger effort evolving from these outings so I’m only including one image from each location. We’re meeting tomorrow so we’ll see what comes next.

When I worked for the local newspaper my primary task at an event like a county fair was almost always established ahead of time. Typically, the editors wanted a single image for the Metro front or a small selection of images for a feature page or photographs showing this or that. You get the idea. My purpose was clear – and often written down for me in the form of a photo assignment.

These days, my purpose is often so broad and undefined that I find myself overwhelmed, especially in visually-rich environments like county fairs. Assuming we do this again – and I’m sure we will because it is good for us – I hope to establish a goal or at least the makings of a goal in advance of any image making.

P.S. The photo on the left is from the Clay County Fair and the photo on the right is from the Red River Valley Fair.