I had the opportunity of photographing world renowned bluegrass musician Byron Berliner at his Double Stop Fiddle Shop in Guthrie, Oklahoma for the April issue of Oklahoma Living Magazine. I met writer Hayley Leatherwood in Guthrie and listened to Byron tell stories of playing with people such as Earl Flatts and Lester Scruggs, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Ronstadt and a host of other famous musicians and actors. The best part of the shoot was when Byron would grab a fiddle and start playing – something he did without much prodding. Dang he was good!
“Would you like to photograph the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge for our March 2017 cover?”
I got that question on a phone call from Anna Politano, the editor of Oklahoma Living Magazine. I could think of a lot of answers to THAT question, all of them basically indicating HECK YEA!!!! I would LOVE to photograph the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. Every single photographer in Oklahoma would love to photograph, or already has photographed that magical place.
But it gets better.
I get PAID!
Hot diggity dog!
Actually I have photographed the Wichita Mountains for many years and have a huge archive of images. But Oklahoma Living has a very specific cover look they like and I didn’t have anything in my archives to quite fit the bill. So Anna twisted my arm (yea right not much twisting required) and made yet another trip. I left my home in Edmond at 4 am in my Chevy Silverado and arrived at the wildlife refuge well before daylight, hoping to catch a magical sunrise with the buffalo. Although the sunrise wasn’t magical, the refuge is alway magical and very photogenic. I got plenty of new pictures for my archives and a great picture for the cover and inside magazine story. In addition Anna used one of my stock photos of Guthrie, Oklahoma for part of the story.
All in all a totally fun assignment. Some assignments are better than others, and then the best ones are when I get to photograph things I already love and get paid for it!
My first cover for 2017 is my photo of Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook. I took this photo on assignment for Nike/Jordan. Since the award was during the middle of the basketball season, it was difficult to schedule a photo shoot with the Thunder star, we we pulled some photos from my archives.
I spent several hours photographing Russell at Oklahoma City’s Penn Square Mall for his Nike/Jordan shoe launch. I was impressed with how nice Westbrook was to all the people behind the scenes, as well as to his fans. He ended up staying much longer than required to make sure he was able to sign plenty of autographs. He always had a smile and a pleasant demeanor, despite the demands on his time and the legions of fans wanting “selfies” with the NBA star. I realized once again that superstars can also be super nice people, just like other people I meet on a regular basis. Russell Westbrook fits right in with our Oklahoma friendliness. We are lucky to have him in our state.
When Kenneth and Barbara Goodin retired from working in Lawton, they decided to move to their ancestral land near Elgin. Kenneth’s grandfather, a respected Comanche Indian named Bob Otipoby claimed the land after the 1901 Jerome Agreement, which forced the Comanches to assign tribal members individual land allotments. He and his Betty Pedday had been living on the land for years prior to 1901. In fact, as a teenager Otipoby ranged free across southwest Oklahoma until the Comanche tribe was forced onto the reservation near Lawton. Now Kenneth and Barbara live in a small stone house they designed, which overlooks the Wichita Mountains and Medicine Bluff, both sacred grounds for the Comanche.
I photographed Kenneth and Barbara at their home for the story about homesteaders for Oklahoma Today magazine written by Nathan Gunter.
Jennifer Plett and her husband Perry live just north of Okeene on land her great grandfather, J.A. Hendricks, homesteaded after the Cherokee Strip Land Run of 1893. Their home is filled with memorabilia from her family’s time on the farm. She and Perry moved into the house in 1980 and raised their children in the shade of trees her family planted years prior. Their house is surrounded by green and golden wheat fields and even includes a well from the original homestead.
This is the third family I photographed for the Oklahoma Today story about homesteaders, written by Nathan Gunter.