Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Traveling photo shoots March 26, 2011

BOY, WAS I HAPPY to meet photographer Loretta M. Verbout of Rochester during an opening night gallery reception recently at the Paradise Center for the Arts in downtown Faribault. She is among three photographers and a painter currently exhibiting at the center.

Although I enjoyed all of the art, I was particularly drawn to Loretta’s photos because she photographs the same types of subjects I like photographing. Flowers. Rural scenes. Everyday objects. Her images have a certain down-home quality that appeals to me.

I was especially drawn to her photo of a country church barely visible behind a field of ripened corn. I wanted to know more about the church and where it was located. I enjoy discovering rural churches, then photographing them.

“It’s somewhere between Dubuque and the Minnesota border,” Loretta said.

Then Loretta explained that she shot the image through the passenger window of a moving vehicle.

I didn’t expect that answer.


Loretta shot this rural church scene while driving roads along the Mississippi River somewhere between Dubuque, Iowa, and the Minnesota border. It's in her gallery exhibit at The Paradise.

Instantly, I bonded with this photographer. I do the exact same thing—set my EOS 20D SLR digital Canon camera on a fast shutter speed and click, click, click while traveling. Loretta also uses mainly Canons.

I called my husband over. He needed to hear this, to confirm that I’m not the only crazy photographer who shoots while riding shotgun.

But apparently I’m not to Loretta’s level of commitment yet. She’s worn out the motor on her vehicle’s automatic window. Typically, I shoot through the window given I don’t want to risk dust filtering into my camera and landing on my sensor, plus sometimes the weather is just too cold for an open car window.

Here are two more drive-by images from Loretta’s Mississippi River road drive:

FYI: Loretta’s gallery show, “The beauty in everyday things,” and exhibits by photographers Laura Schenck of Northfield and Catherine Michele Adams of St. Paul will run through April 23 at the Paradise’s Carlander Family Gallery, 321 Central Avenue, in downtown Faribault. Minneapolis artisit Lauren S. Strom’s paintings are also on display in the Lois Vranesh Boardroom Gallery. Paradise hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday – Friday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

CHECK BACK for a trio of on-the-road farm place photos I shot recently while traveling through southwestern Minnesota.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling