Embarrassment of riches

This summer reminds me of the first time I retired many years ago. After a satisfying 32 years of teaching I was looking forward to new opportunities.  Like  most retirees I had a long list of things I was going to “get around to” after I retired.  A good share of those things are still on that list.

One thing led to another. I was taking some advanced photo classes at Metro when I saw a help wanted advertisement for a  reporter/photographer at the Enterprise. Soon after starting to work at the paper I took advantage of an opportunity to teach photojournalism at Metro Community College as well.  A friend and fellow Metro instructor commented that my wealth of photo opportunities as news photographer was “an embarrassment of riches.” I had never heard that phrase before, but it fit my situation perfectly.

Young man performs demonstration
Science dude Peter Lux performs science demonstrations during YMCA Summer Care Mad Scientist week.

My career at the Enterprise has been rich with experiences and friendships as well as photo opportunities. As you may have noticed, my photos are still showing up in the newspaper.  The beauty of my new arrangement is that my photo assignments are pretty much by invitation.

Don Johnson laughs while a caravan of vehicles parade past the entrance to Fort Calhoun High School to recognize and thank the retiring superintendant for his years of service.

On the last day of June, the Fort Calhoun staff asked me to come down to photograph a teacher parade to honor retiring superintendent Don Johnson. I of course gladly accepted the invitation. One of my first beats as a reporter was covering Fort Calhoun Schools and Johnson was middle school and high school principal at that time. In my opinion Don was always the epitome of what a good leader should be.  I could give a dozen examples, but what always impressed me was that no matter the time of place, if there was a significant project underway Don was there leading the charge.

Dana campus landscape
Flower trees frame student center and Durham bell tower.

The last day of June also commemorated the ten year anniversary of the closing of Dana College. Preparing my column gave me an opportunity to look through my time capsule of Dana images from 2010 to the present. While Argo and Elkhorn residence halls were demolished  and others need to be renovated or removed, it is still a lovely campus. After so many false starts it is good to see that the Durham Center and Trinity Chapel have been renovated and occupied, and athletes are once again playing baseball on the ball diamonds.

While so many events have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 Virus, Arlington, Blair and Herman still were able to hold their annual fireworks displays. For me, setting up to photograph a fireworks show is kind of like Forrest Gump and his box of chocolates. When I press the button for a long exposure I never know for sure what I’m going to get.

I was particularly happy with the results from the Herman show. My intent was to capture the spirit of that small town community celebration and I think the photo on the front page of the paper communicated that pretty well.

Quilters and gardeners find delight among the colorful flowers and quilt displays at the annual Wolfe Family Country Quilt Show and Garden Walk.

Another summer event that I regularly attend is the Wolfe Country Quilt Show and Garden Walk.  On the third Saturday of July for eight of the last nine years, the Wolfe family has hosted this beautiful show as a free gift to quilt lovers and gardening enthusiasts.  I’m not much of a gardener and know nothing about quilting, but strolling through the farm yard gives me an opportunity to make images that capture the mix of people, flowers and fabric. Thank you Wolfe family.

Wolfe Quilt and Garden-4H

I don’t know about “embarrassment” but I do know that I am thankful over the years to have had a wealth of opportunities to make images in Washington County.


2 responses to “Embarrassment of riches”

  1. You were my study hall teacher in the 1980’s. I believe that is the only interaction I had with you. You said something to me that motivated me throughout my life. I don’t think you were trying to be motivational and you certainly weren’t trying to be nice but it angered me and drove me. I wanted to prove you wrong and I did. Thank you for the motivation even though it probably wasn’t meant to be that. I’m a better man because of it.


    • I do remember you and don’t remember the exchange of words at all. Sorry your memory of our relationship was negative but good know you turned it into a positive experience. Thanks for contacting me. Wishing you all the best. – Joe


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