Tag Archives: sheep herder

Spring, newborn lambs and a drive in the country

This sight of Ariel Vega's sheep grazing lazily in the cool morning made me stop. What do you think is missing from this picture? Photographers like to do that, don't they? They're often wondering what else can make their picture better. Maybe, that's just me.Â
Sheep rancher Ariel Vega spoke little English and I knew just those unmentionable Spanish words in polite company. I didn't let that get in the way of my intent of making pictures.

At today’s gas prices of an average $4.30 a gallon, driving around looking for pictures can appear frivolous but producing good photographs requires some investment in time and gas money.


A recent morning, I ventured into the outskirts of Moreno Valley, some of my old stomping grounds I used to cruise searching for feature pictures.

I came across Ariel Vega, a sheep rancher sowing alfalfa seeds by hand as he sat in the back of his pickup truck.

Around him were 2 Australian sheepdogs, both extremely alert, obedient and hard-working.

One of the most useful skills I acquired as a result of working at the newspaper is a self-assurance that I can approach complete strangers and convince them to let me take their picture. Continue reading Spring, newborn lambs and a drive in the country

My favorite picture

A very lucky find–Originally shot in Fujichrome 100, this image remains my favorite for many reasons. Whenever I feel like work is tough, I think about how much harder things could be. This shepherd lives by himself in a trailer 24/7 with no electricity and plumbing. His boss drives by and checks on him every so often, providing him with food supplies every few days. I didn’t even see a radio in his trailer.

Why is a photograph you’ve taken a favorite?

It’s about the story behind the picture.

That favorite is not always an award winner. It doesn’t have to be technically perfect: well-exposed, tack sharp with great composition.

In this case, it was the circumstances leading up to my finding this picture.

A Real Find

I remember it being a particularly dreadful morning in the San Jacinto valley.

Most of the staff photographers at the newspaper dreaded being sent out to the area simply because the community seldom had any big news.

So we were constantly under a lot of pressure to come up with some sort of picture for the cover of the local section.

Inevitably that meant the photographers had to look for “wild art” or feature pictures.

This particular cold morning, no one was out. I cruised the usual city parks in search for any sign of life.

I finally found someone playing with their kid but I couldn’t convince them to give me their name after I took a decent enough picture.

Without a name, the newspaper won’t run the picture unless it’s a silhouette and the people are not recognizable.

I moved on grudgingly.

Three hours of non-stop driving later,  I still had zilch. Skunked yet again.

Then I decided to leave the city limits for the bucolic surroundings.

And I was about to give up, call the bossman and cry “Uncle”  when I saw the sheep.

I was completely contented with a picture of just the sheep. That was how desperate I was.

Then in the corner of my eye I saw the shepherd walk towards the sheep and one of them came to him.

He scratched its head and that was it.

I walked over to the shepherd asked his name in Spanish explained why I needed it.

Before I left he asked for “Cervesita”

I brought back 2 six-packs of cold beer.  And every time after that when I went by and saw him, I would bring him a six-pack. That was how grateful I was .

On this blog, I’ve probably repeated myself and hopefully haven’t contradicted myself too often.

It’s nice to know at least one person reading this blog has been paying attention.

Sorry Heather, you were correct, too but Mike Hayes beat you to it.

Congratulations Mike Hayes. You were the 1st to guess correctly.

Thanks to Linda Frenza, Kathy Pitchford, Thomas, Brian W, Tom Marek, Lynne Friedman, Liz Baird, Marv, Roberto, Tammy McGee and Tanya Rodriguez.

Thank you for playing.

As I write this, Mike, your print should be on its way to you. Look for a large white envelope in the mail.