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!
I had the honor of photographing a “wounded warrior” for the November 2016 cover of Oklahoma Living Magazine. It is quite humbling to work with someone like Shane Ayers, who has seen battle up close and personal in places like Fallujah, Iraq and the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan. Shane is now a quadriplegic but does not let his handicap slow him down. I ended up photographing him bow hunting in northeast Oklahoma. My friend Vance Felder hosted Shane on a hunt near Shamrock, Oklahoma.
“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!
Each February Oklahoma Living highlights an influential member of Oklahoma politics. This year my assignment was to photograph incoming Oklahoma Senate Pro Tem Mike Schulz at his cotton farm south of Altus and at the Oklahoma State Capitol. I drove to Altus very early one morning, arriving at Senator Schulz farm well before daylight. He was very cooperative and friendly. We drove out to his cotton fields and I photographed him in the fields and around his tractor. We then returned to his home were I trapped a few pictures around his farm. A few weeks later I met him and his family on the first day of the Oklahoma legislative session at the Capitol and spent a few minutes photographing him in a more formal Capitol setting – a interesting contrast to his cotton farming attire.
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.