One of my favorite things about editorial photography is getting to meet interesting people. I do a lot of travel stories and invariably I am pulling over my vehicle – usually a motorcycle but sometimes our Jeep or FJ Cruiser, and pulling in to talk to folks. Just ordinary folks. I will be driving down the road, see someone out working in their yard, pull a u-turn and go back and talk to them. After a bit I like to ask if they mind I photograph them. These portrait photos seldom make the cut on my travel stories, but I so enjoy taking them that I continue looking for every opportunity to grab a portrait of people on my travels.
Nathan Gunter, Managing Editor at Oklahoma Today, was driving on our trip together for a story about Highway 3 in Oklahoma. We were south of Shawnee, driving an old, forgotten piece of Highway 3 when we passed this guy out feeding his chickens. “Turn around” I exclaimed, and Nathan, after a week of traveling with me, knew better than to question my choice. He just laughed and back we went. I wish I had taken better notes and could remember this guy’s name, but according to his t-shirt, he is a self proclaimed “Redneck of the Year”. I wouldn’t really call him a redneck. I just call him a fellow Oklahoman, someone I am proud to call a neighbor and now a friend. He was very proud of his chickens and other animals he raised around his home and took Nathan and I on a short tour.
So if you are ever driving with me and I excitedly yell “turn around” just do it and know that you are probably going to meet someone unusual and interesting.