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2020 Community Connections: Art and Photography in the Community intro and feature on the Times

Jess Bengtson
View of downtown Crookston from an Ultralite flight

    What is art? Art is many different things to many different people. There’s food art, watercolor art, natural art, yard art, structural art, clothes design art, (am I starting to sound like “Bubba” from “Forrest Gump” yet?) ceramic art, graffiti art, coloring, painting, writing, photography, dance, theatre and so much more.

    There’s even plenty of art available right here in Crookston if you just look around. And for all ages. Art displays at local businesses, art events, art at the parks, art in the schools, art in the newspaper, art on the radio, art online… I could go on forever.

    Are you catching on to what this section is all about? If you guessed art, you’re right.

    I want to specifically highlight some of the art you’d find in the community and the art of photography by showing off some of our local photographers.

    Did you know that the newsroom employees at the Crookston Times are considered professional photographers? So are the employees over at KROX Radio. Some of us are certified, but all of us get paid to take photos whether that be for sports, events, important meetings or at happenings in the community, some not so fun such as accidents or tragedies.

    In this section you’ll learn more about your local photographers, find out why they went into photography, hear about some of their favorite and least favorite photo shoots, plus you’ll learn more about art in the community whether that be sign art, natural art, murals, structures, and art-inspired events.  


    To start it all off, I’ll touch on the Crookston Times’ newsroom photographers. For those of you who didn’t know, our newsroom consists of myself, Jess Bengtson, Times Assistant Editor; Mike Christopherson, Managing Editor; and Jake Shames, Sports Editor. Jake is the newbie of the group and hasn’t been able to show off his outdoor sports photography skills quite yet after having only been with us since October and having high school and college spring sports cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but he did a great job with winter sports and we’ve been lucky to have had some decent sports photographers previously in that position in our office.

    Our office uses Canon cameras and lenses, and, just in the last few years, have upgraded technology to allow for instant photo transfers from the cameras to our smart phones, and upgraded lenses for more versatility and zoom capabilities. That said, when you talk to any photographer, there’s always room for more, bigger and better things. Our wish list would consist of even newer versions of what Canon digital cameras have to offer and bigger, wider lenses specifically for sports.

    Speaking for myself, I’ve always loved taking photos. I remember having one of those cameras with a removable block flash bulb when I was quite young. As I got older, I started to purchase my own cameras and even had one of those underwater-capable disposable cameras when they first came out. Seriously, those were the bomb. Landing a job at the Times increased that love by 1,000 percent. Maybe more.

    Now, since I’ve also discovered a love for sports photography (thanks to my oldest son’s many years in three sports) I’ve upgraded my own cameras on the regular and, specifically for the NSIC playoffs in Sioux Falls where the University of Minnesota Crookston Golden Eagles Men’s Basketball team were favored to win, I bought my very first professional sports lens. If you’ve ever shot with a sports lens, you can definitely tell the difference between that and a regular lens. Even if they have the same millimeter specs. That lens makes you feel important, powerful even. And it makes you want to sign up to cover all the sporting events even if you don’t know all the lingo to write the stories. (Cough, cough…me.)

    Event photography is what I typically do when we aren’t in the middle of a pandemic and believe me when I say there are a lot of events in Crookston. Same goes for Mike except you can see more of his photography in features, at meetings and important happenings. We enjoy going back and forth when we have a great photography “moment”, you know, that perfect angle or shot, or when we’ve captured the whole essence of an event in one photo. We even have a “Wall of Fame” with our favorite photos that gets updated whenever we have a nice intern willing to take on the task. (Thanks, Maddie Everett!) It’s fun to give tours to elementary kids and watch their faces light up if they see someone they know or even themselves.

    Other Times employees should be considered photographers, too, as they take a lot of photos to create ads for local businesses. They even use those photos on their customer’s websites which are also done in-house. Interested in learning more, call our office.

    That’s enough rambling from me. Let’s learn about other art and photographers in the community, shall we?