The Anderson Art Project – Sometimes a Story Just Needs to Be Shared

Author Sara Goodnick


There is a rancher/plumber/horseman/ artist who I have gotten to know over the years who lives with his wife in the Four Corners region near Misc_252Cortez, Colorado. His creativity and skill is a wonder to behold. Most of his artwork is sculptural in nature, and on display on his property. He is humble, dedicated, and kind. Their home is off the grid electrically. He has only been out of Colorado once-to Oklahoma-and he won’t leave again. They raise a few cattle, have a garden, goats, and their beloved horses.

After seeing his work over the years, I decided he needed to have it documented for his heirs as well as for insurance purposes. It took another 2 years to convince him, but last August I went there specifically to get the project done. I had no intention of doing this for any sort of profit. It was just work from the heart that I felt needed to be done.

Animals_202Having a portrait studio has given me confidence with using studio lights, and portable compact Nikon SB800s. I brought those, and black backdrop fabric for the smaller pieces. However, much of his work is outdoors, so I used fill flash and reflectors when needed there as well.
The only place to set up my little studio was in his work studio. Not ideal as it is surrounded by windows on 3 sides. Controlling light direction was quite a challenge. I should have brought even more black fabric. The dust was also a challenge, but that was dealt with in post production-hours of dust removal in Photoshop for that I could not remove from the set during the shoot.

I used my Nikon D700, the SB800 flash units, a Quantum flash, umbrellas, a “Doug Box” softbox, Animals_163reflectors, the 35-70mm 2.8 and 105mm 2.8 Micro lenses, and a tripod. A step stool and ladder were necessary, too.

It wasn’t a commercial type of setup, and photographing the shiny handmade knives would have been improved had I been able to make a tent of white fabric to control the reflections. However, I only had 2 days and they live far from a town, so we improvised as best we could. I worked for 2 full days on the photographs. Fortunately the weather was perfect.

I brought all of the images into Lightroom, edited them, organized them, and retouched them. Next I took them into Lightroom’s Book module, and put a “Blurb” book together of the images and his bio that had been provided to me. I’ve done personal books this way in the past, and for the price, Blurb has been good. It works seamlessly with Lightroom. However, there is a learning curve.

He now has a CD of the images in the proposed book layout and I am waiting for his approval or suggestions. I do wish Blurb had a way to show a proof of the actual book to a client who cannot see my computer in person before placing the order.

Knives_001Seeing all of his work and learning about the various pieces was such an enriching and rewarding experience for me. I left my laptop with the original images for him to review the night before I returned home. Before I drove away the next morning his wife said he was so happy as he looked at the photographs of his art. That, to me, is the greatest reward.


Sara Goodnick is a portrait and nature photographer and an Arizona Highways Photo Workshop trip leader.