Jay Grammond is a Minnesota photographer who's annual trip to the Black Hills Photo Shootout helps him find many photo subjects in out-of-the-way places.
many times have you found yourself needing to drive across a state, like South
Dakota for example. You’re cruising along down the interstate, your camera gear
is in the back seat, ready to be put into action, and you see something that
looks like it would make a really great image – but – you start to talk
yourself out of pulling off the next exit and getting the shot. You know, you need to be somewhere by a
certain time; you have passengers and you think they may get bored; maybe
you’ll stop and get the shot the next time you come through the area. Does
that scenario sound familiar?
Maybe the next time you make that journey, you
should allow some extra time and only take the “backroads” to get to your
destination. That is what I did as a self-assignment over the past couple of
years while on my annual pilgrimage to the Black Hills Photo Shootout. I
decided that I would take County and State Highways and stop in as many small
towns as I could along the way there and back. Every
little town has something unique in it that is worthy of having someone stop
and make images, you just have to be willing to slow down and explore. If you
do, I think you’ll be happy with the results. Here are some of the images that
I created in small towns across the northeastern quarter of the state:
fascinated by train graffiti and so when I saw some cars sitting still in
Redfield and parked in such a way that I could shoot images from the street,
well I had to stop and make some images.
of Aberdeen, I went in search of a farmer that had stopped by my Art In The
Park booth the previous summer and had invited me out to shoot old automobiles
out in their shelter belt. I couldn’t pass that up.
on my route and heading east, I come across a cemetery, I love to walk
cemeteries and see what kind of stories they tell. I think that this marker was
something special. This cemetery was really interesting and even contained a
WWI Veteran who was part of a Balloon Division.
small town was hanging on by a thread…the city playground park was overgrown
with weeds; the sidewalks were nearly covered in grass; there was an old school
gas station now used as a regular garage; there was an ancient water tower –
lots of great subject matter. But it was the Town Hall Outhouse set against a
cornfield that really caught my eye.
you see a gravel road and decide that you just need to drive down the road and
see what it holds. I took one and found this beautiful old home. Just think of
what this farm yard must have been like in its prime.
had heard about this place called the Cathedral of the Prairie a couple years
ago and knew I was in the vicinity. Many of you know, it is out on the
prairie….what a magnificent place! (Hoven is home to the Cathedral on the Prairie...Dakotagraph)
am a bit of a Civil War buff and couldn’t believe it when I came to a town
called Gettysburg. They had a lot of interesting architecture in town and a
real nice museum. I found out that there was a cemetery outside of town that
contained several grave sites of the Civil War veterans that founded the town
after the war.
I had been searching for the past year or two specifically for
veterans of the 1 Minnesota Vol INF because of a recent trip I made to
Gettysburg, PA. The First Minnesota played crucial roles in the Battle of
Gettysburg which were key in preserving the Union. Anyway, I came across this
grave marker in Gettysburg, SD – I was thrilled to discover that I actually had
one commemorative flag left in my truck, a flag that had actually been in
Gettysburg, PA with us when we re-dedicated monuments and marked graves.
by the Missouri River, I came across these horses all standing next to each
other. They were surrounded by hundreds of acres of open land and there they
were at the top of this hill standing together like a goal-line defense.
sunset was out near Spearfish. The Shootout had ended and I had planned to stay
overnight in Spearfish so that I could go out and explore the area and create
images rather than starting to head back to Minnesota as soon as the last
workshop ended, as I usually do. I was driving gravel roads with no idea where
I was and ended up right in this location at sunset. It was truly magical and I
couldn’t believe all the random turns
and roads that got me to this spot at this time.
my way home I went through this little town and needed to stop for a stretch
break, and anyway, there was a courthouse along the road that had some war
memorials which I am also into getting images of. When I went back to my car
and looked across the street I saw this scene, I really couldn’t believe what I
was seeing! (This is Woonsocket...Dakotagraph)
urge each of you to go out and explore the back roads and small towns and see
what you can find. Great subjects are out there just waiting for you to
discover them! If you’d like to see more of my images and blog posts go to
“Adventures In Photography” on WordPress. Thank
you to Dakotagraph for allowing me to be a guest blogger.
Thank you Jay! You can also see more of Jay's work at JGrammondPhotography.com.
If you would like to be featured as a guest blogger leave a comment here or on the Dakotagraph page at Facebook.