Month: May 2012

PlainSky, Nebraskans: Leif and Claire No. 2, Lusker Ranch

Leif and Claire No. 2, Lusker Ranch

Leif and Claire No. 2, Lusker Ranch

Every photographer should have a day where he or she “shoots out of his or her shoes.”

Monday, May 28, 2012, was mine.

Leif Meidell and the family dog, Claire, were standing together on a sandy knoll behind the garage at the Lusker Ranch, and I was making images of the two when Leif looked to the southwest horizon in an unguarded moment.

Without any doubt, I think this is the best image I have ever made. It’s better than I am, far better, but that’s irrelevant.

My only hope for it, however, is that others may just see it with the same sense of emotional intensity it holds for me.

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PlainSky, Nebraskans: Leif and Claire, Lusker Ranch

Leif and Claire, Lusker Ranch

Leif and Claire, Lusker Ranch

There are few people I’ve met who are more fun and inspiring for making images than the Meidell family: classic faces, marvelous people, and fantastically genuine. On a Monday night, just as the sun cleared the clouds to the west of the Lusker ranch, Leif Meidell and one of the family dogs, Claire, sat on the corrugated metal roof of the garage, the Great Plains stretching out behind them.

Neither could have looked better that night.

PlainSky, Nebraskans: Cowboys and Passing Rider, Mansfield Ranch

Cowboys and Passing Rider, Mansfield Ranch

Cowboys and Passing Rider, Mansfield Ranch

Two men, two boys, one horse and rider. Sitting and resting before the branding began, these two men looked up as a horse and rider galloped past, while the two boys seemed indifferent to the world around them.

PlainSky, Nebraskans: The Cut, Kreman Ranch

The Cut, Kreman Ranch

The Cut, Kreman Ranch

One of the most well-known National Geographic images is Sam Abell’s “Branding, Ken Rosman Ranch, Montana.” It’s so good that it recently made the magazine’s top 50 photos of all time, and photographic legend and Magnum full member Alex Webb has said of it, “This is what we’re all trying to do.” My style has been influenced immensely by this photo, as well as one of Abell’s other works, “Fisherman Hauling in a Net, Canada.” Yet, imitation is a fool’s hope of originality, so while I can continue to admire the image and learn from its teachings, I can’t, and shouldn’t, try to make another just like it.

But on a Saturday morning branding at the Kreman ranch, I found a chance to reverse the composition as much as possible. Thanks for the lessons, Mr. Abell.

PlainSky, Nebraskans: The Trim, Alliance

The Trim, Alliance

The Trim, Alliance

This photograph is evidence of my addiction: while everyone else was eating pizza, I went and wandered the streets of Alliance, Nebraska.

Coming upon this barber shop downtown, I leaned in the door and asked if I might take a few photographs. Little did the cowboy in the chair know those photos would be of him.