Back Roads of the Midwest

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Title: Back Roads of the Midwest : Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio
Published by: Schiffer Books
Release Date: November 28, 2022
ISBN13: 978-0-7643-6483-9


I have always said that if you were to drop me into the middle of any state in the U.S., I would be able to tell you where I am. Each state has a specific look, feel, and geography that I find to be easily recognizable. Arizona and Utah have red rocks but different enough, Colorado has the Rocky Mountains and so on. The Midwestern states differ in that they look alike only in the specific attributes. It is hard to tell one specific lake from another, the rivers have a certain sameness and so on. I could still tell you what state I am in. Maybe even faster. I love the Midwest. I grew up there. It feels like home. You always know where you are when you are home.

What is special about the Midwestern states? Iowa has incredibly unique rolling hills, Minnesota has a million lakes, Indiana has lines of trees around the fields giving it a certain furry look. Illinois is so flat and unremarkable that it becomes remarkable just for that. I genuinely enjoyed working on this book. What I do, call it environmental photography, is kind of a treasure hunt. In states like Utah, Colorado, and California it is kind of like a treasure hunt in a bank! In the Midwestern states it is much harder. The treasures are fewer and farther between. Some days I might drive two or three hundred miles between photographs. Of course, that means that when I do find a photo op it is like finding gold.

The people are terrific too. They invite you onto their property instead of accusing you of trespassing. Look for Gordon’s porch in Ohio. He was outside watering his lawn when I passed by a couple of times getting up the nerve to stop and ask if I could photograph his house. He did not exactly get why I wanted a picture of his porch for this book, but he shrugged and said “Sure – have at it!” He even moved the hose for me. The folks at the Hanger Kafe in Missouri offered me lunch even after I climbed up on one of their tables with my tripod to make my panoramic photo.

Two different people told me about the swinging bridge in Missouri. I believe either one of them would have dropped what they were doing to drive me there if I had asked. Dana, a ranger at Prairie State Park helped me to find the tiny frog in this book and has become a friend with whom I am still communicating. The fisherman in the boat I photographed in Iowa held still when I yelled to ask them and emailed me later to see the photo. Keith and Sue opened their bar early so I could photograph it and were then willing to pose for the photo! I could go on. Every picture may tell a story, but it could also be said that there is a story behind every photo. If you see Bob the Truck on the road, wave me down, I will be happy to hang out and swap a few stories with you.

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