On the clock

_MG_9726For the first time in five years, I consistently get to take photos for my job. It feels great.

I started more than six weeks ago leading two weekly newspapers in the Twin Cities suburbs: the Prior Lake American and Savage Pacer. It’s a relatively small operation that nonetheless takes a lot of work. I oversee two reporters and help get their work into the best shape possible, I work with other editors and reporters at six other weeklies that are part of the same company, I edit everything that goes in mine and work with designers to decide where it all goes in my papers. And I also get to report and photograph on my own. Above, for example, I watched a little CLIMB Theatre skit about nature and conservation at a Prior Lake elementary school last week. To understate, this is not a bad gig. Here’s a sample of some other things I’ve been up to.

A social and work skills day program for young adults with autism started up in Shakopee last month:

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Prior Lake High School is performing “Sister Act” as its fall musical this weekend:

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Local veterans spent all day Thursday sharing their stories and thoughts on their service with Prior Lake High School students (happy Veterans Day, by the way):

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A Shakopee establishment called Pablo’s was voted the best Mexican restaurant and restaurant overall in our coverage area, the southwest metro. I can’t say I’d mind taking a lot more food photos:

And I wrote a little outdoor feature all about the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, which stretches over several miles of wetlands, streams and forests along the metro’s south. Look for that one, with some of these photos attached, this weekend:

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_MG_9989Stay warm out there, and thanks for looking.
Dan

A Fayetteville Christmas Story

_C1_9718 smallThis picture looks ominous, but believe me, the story I got to write for today’s paper to go along with this photo is a happy one.

That’s what remains of Paul Pannell’s car after a major fire destroyed most of his home Monday evening and Tuesday morning. All of those icicles are from fire fighters’ efforts to dispel the blaze.

Pannell is 92 and lives toward the northeast edge of town. His son-in-law, Bill Meissinger, lives next door.

From my story here (requires a subscription):

Meissinger said he grabbed an extension ladder and smashed it through Pannell’s bedroom window. Gray smoke billowed out and he couldn’t see, even with his flashlight. He hollered several times for Pannell but got no response, he said.

Then he said he remembered Pannell fought in the Battle of the Bulge and still dreams of it. Meissinger called out his rank: “Command Sgt. Maj. Pannell!”

“‘What, what’s going on?’” Meissinger said he heard immediately. “I said, ‘You gotta get to this light!’ As soon as I felt his hand the war was on.”

Meissinger was able to pull his father-in-law to safety, and he was shortly taken for treatment of minor injuries. Meissinger said nurses told him Pannell was likely a dozen seconds from death.

Just an astounding story from here, and it’s really a coincidence only that I got to be the one writing about it. I’m sharing it also because these are the first photos I’ve been able to take at my job here, though they aren’t much to look at. Meissinger’s on the left:

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Thanks for looking, and if you celebrate Christmas, I hope it was a merry one.

Dan

Halloween Comes Early

Happy Halloween! I know it’s early, and I blame my first freelance photo gig in a while. The married owners of Springfield’s Savoy Ballroom organized 100+ people to dance to Michael Jackson’s zombie-fied “Thriller” this past weekend on Commercial Street, and I got to take some images. There was room only for one in the paper but these regular people went all-out, so I’m glad to be able to put up more photos here.

I’ve also hitched on a few images of an Ozarks autumn in Dogwood Canyon Park south of here. It will fade away to winter before we know it. Fittingly, my search for full-time employment also is reaching its endgame, I think. Lord knows how it’ll turn out.

Thanks for looking!

Dan

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Leaving Unknown

There’s something about taking photos of people without showing their faces. Faces are valuable and important, obviously, but leaving them out does something. It forces the viewer to look at the rest of the person’s posture, clothing, surroundings. It gives the chance, relatively rare in photographs, to see things as the subject sees them. It creates that ingredient of all good photos: a question. How much of the answer it gives is up to the photographer. It can be fun, and it’s not something I let myself do often for papers.

There’s something else about the detail shot, the tight composition. It can strip away almost all context, forcing the viewer to look, really see the subject. It can be a bit artistic, really, cutting the image down to its constituents of color and form and texture. It gives just a tidbit of the larger whole’s character, while also leaving another question. I first got interested in photography because of the game of finding the splashes and details and patterns around me that most people miss. But as you might’ve seen, most of the street stuff I’ve taken has been really wide. I decided to even it out a bit this time around. Most of the tight shots are from within a few blocks of downtown.

Those are the two themes for this post, I suppose, though there are one or two miscellaneous images in here, too. I hope they’re nice to look at. Thanks for looking!

Dan

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