Jona Leo is a big dude.
He can lift more than you can. Actually, he can lift you AND two of your best friends at the same time. Jona has bench-pressed over 800 pounds several times in competition, which is totally mind-blowing. Unreal.
I was assigned to photograph Jona and his family for the Northwestern (IA) College alumni magazine, and he couldn’t have been nicer. Or stronger. I was a little tentative when it came time to shake hands, but I got through it just fine.
Yes, that was a written “sigh.” An exhale of air, a gesture of frustration, a tool for those of us who live in extreme northern climes who get really, really tired of winter by late January.
It’s a tough time of year. There’s very little than can be photographed outdoors, unless you are chasing snow features and actually TRYING to photograph extreme cold. Mostly, I’m confined to heated spaces when it comes to assignment work, or catching a flight toward a southern destination. When I do have to shoot an industrial scene outdoors, it’s with thick mittens, high-end thermal underthings and some courage.
Ironically, ice fishing is a nice getaway. Yes, that involves going out into the cold, but I have a lil’ heater with me, and a thermal-lined ice shack. It’s actually fun. But when the fish don’t bite, then I use that opportunity to photograph winter scenes all the way back home, such as this abandoned farmstead. Put a little infrared b&w filter on that puppy and it actually looks kind of cool in an eerie sort of way.
I end up liking photos like this, and then I realize that I don’t spend enough time on cold days venturing out and capturing them. So I use them as motivation to get off the couch and don the thermal and mittens, and try for another one.