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A Portrait of a Sandhills Cattle Rancher

When a rancher in a truck pulled over and asked us what we were doing, I’m pretty sure he was being protective of his land. He might have been a bit suspicious although he was too polite to say so.

We explained to him that we were from Omaha and just appreciating the beauty of the Sandhills.

I was out with @kurt_johnson_photography on a mini two-day photo trip in the middle of Nebraska, and this rancher was definitely the highlight of our adventure.

The rancher, also named Kurt, was so much fun to talk with.

If you haven’t visited our state, you should know that Nebraskans can be some of the kindest people you’ll ever meet, and Kurt is no exception. He bid us farewell and drove down the road, only to return a few minutes later with a proposition: “Would you two be willing to take a photo for me? I’d love to have a photo of my cattle for my camper.”

Kurt Johnson (the legend and photographer I was with) and I looked at each other and smiled.
“Of course!” We replied and followed him off-road and to where his cattle were grazing. His dog, Josie, seemed entirely too happy and stuck her head out the window, hoping for some pats on the head.

As we took photos of his land, his cattle and even a portrait of him (“I never posed for a professional photo before,” he said), we talked with him about how lucky he is to live in such a place.
“Yeah,” he said, looking around. “It’s a special place.”

After all my journeys through Nebraska, I’ve come to treasure it here. I find the land fascinating as it shifts and moves subtly as you travel. When people tell me that there’s “nothing here but corn,” I can’t help but laugh.
“Get off the interstate and start exploring,” I tell them. Even random dirt roads can lead to some of the most serene scenes possible.

The photos here of Kurt remind me that I need to start documenting more of the people here. Talking with them and documenting their stories is important. I’m from the city, and I’ll likely never know what it’s like to live under these endless skies surrounded by this beautiful but difficult land.

I want to learn more from the people I meet and allow their stories to shape my own journey through life.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Fabio

    Loved the story, the pics and the colors!
    Any secret to nail those skin tones? They have a sort of pastel placid feeling, very reminiscent of farm life


      Thanks, Fabio!!! No secret to these colors… mostly just Nostalgic Neg on the Fuji and some editing tweaks. Again – thank you!

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