Luckiest Picture I Ever Took

Luckiest Picture I Ever Took

It has to be the luckiest picture I ever took.

Lindsborg's upcoming Makers Street art walk event on Friday, September 14, is informally titled "Pet-tember." It has me remembering one sweet photograph I took involving pets.

A bit of background: My photographic coverage for National Geographic on the future of the Great Plains was, umm, taxing my abilities. I faced a huge territory and a nebulous idea of what the essence of this prairie geography was.  So I was definitely in hunt and peck mode. I’d driven thousands of miles from Texas to Montana (enjoying every mile, actually) when I found myself on an a very traditional farm (they still used horses for plowing) outside Medina, North Dakota. 

The summer evening was beautiful; we’d toured the garden and dusk was bathing the red barn in warm light. That’s when my luck turned. Around a corner came the boy in overalls, proud as could be, hauling a puppy under each arm for me to see. Tight by his side were the two worried mothers, pacing him anxiously. It was too good to be true. I had to get that image or hang my head in shame forever.

Instinct saved me. There was no time to actually think. I whipped up my Nikon, zoomed in to frame the scene and hit the motor drive, relying on the autofocus to track the boy. Miraculously it all worked. I think I got off about 18 frames. Somewhere in the middle was this frame where everything came together. (One of the puppies even had its little tongue sticking out.) 

National Geographic editors selected that image for the subscriber edition of May 2004. (The newsstand cover was the burning of the Flint Hills on the Flying W Ranch near Cottonwood Falls.) Both pictures seemed to say a lot about the richness and values of life on the Great Plains. The subscribers who saw that little boy and his puppies seemed especially delighted to glimpse the Plains' ever-renewing cycles of life and shared experiences. 

Enjoy "Pet-tember" and September's Makers Street, where everything has a story.

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