Nathan Gunter and I were traveling across Oklahoma on our story about Highway 3 when we drove through Stonewall, Oklahoma. Not much left in Stonewall. It seems to have been bypassed when the Oklahoma Department of Transportation rebuilt Highway 3 about 1/4 mile out of town. We were on the old part of Highway 3.
One business that is still surviving is an old NAPA/hardware store. Of course Nathan and I whipped in to talk to the folks – can’t pass up an opportunity like that. As you can imagine, we were strangers and got a skeptical glance was we walked in. I never carry a camera when meeting people for the first time – that always comes later after I ask permission to photograph them.
After chatting and telling them about the story we were working on, I knew I had to photograph this elderly gentleman for the story. He had lived in Stonewall most of his life and told us about his daddy driving cattle down main street back in the day. I asked if I could get his photograph. He hemmed and hawed and after some cajoling by me, he grudgingly agreed.
I love this photo. No fancy lighting, no spectacular background, no cool camera tricks. Just a very interesting person with a lot of character to their face. I was told a long time ago by a very good photographer – “You want to take better pictures? Stand in front of better subjects.” In other words, the old newspaperman’s motto of “F16 and be there” still stands true today.