Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A new series: Minnesota faces January 2, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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DURING MORE THAN FIVE YEARS of blogging, I’ve photographed many a Minnesotan. Young and old. And in between.

From my cousin’s young daughter passing a tray of chocolates at a 50th anniversary party to a woman sitting under an old-fashioned hair dryer at a West Concord beauty salon to our newest immigrants celebrating their heritage at Faribault’s International Festival, I’ve photographed a wide range of subjects.

Some of the images are posed portraits, others snapshot style.

Each photo tells a story— through lines etched into a face, in the tilt of the head, the look in an eye or perhaps the way hands fold. Or a smile. Or not.

Light and setting add to the story. Sometimes the environment tells as much, if not more, than the face.

I’m not a professional portrait photographer. It’s just me and my Canon DSLR. No fancy lighting. No anything except the camera lens between me and my subject.

To photograph these individuals has been an honor. Truly. I delight in showcasing the people, places and events of rural Minnesota, where I’ve lived my entire life.

Beginning today, and every Friday until I run out of images, I will pull a portrait from my files and show you a face. The face of a Minnesotan.

And because I appreciate the timeless beauty of black-and-white photos, those portraits will be void of color.

Words will be sparse. Instead, I want you to focus on the image. The faces that tell the stories.


PORTRAIT #1: Dan, who claims Folgers is the best. 


Dan Tersteeg, Fourth Ave. Christmas dinner 2012



Dan Tersteeg tends the coffee at the annual Community Christmas Dinner at Fourth Avenue United Methodist Church in Faribault. I shot this portrait two years ago in the church basement. But I could have taken it this past December as Dan was in the same spot overseeing the coffee. Dan told me in 2012 that he always uses Folgers because it works best with Faribault’s water. I believe him. Who am I to question the guy in charge of the coffee?

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling