The Story Behind the Photo

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Photography provides us with the ability to freeze a moment in time; to make it static and permanent. Every photograph has a story behind it that is just as much a part of the picture, even though it may be unseen by the person viewing it.

For instance, this is a photograph that I took of a buffalo during a 3,000+ mile road trip that my husband and I took last summer. We started from our home in Arizona and took a long, long loop through Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado. This photo was taken in the Grand Teton National Park.

What you don’t see is the thirty minutes or so that lead up to this shot. My husband and I had pulled off into an overlook along the road (we’d rented a Harley for a couple of days – I highly recommend seeing the Grand Tetons via motorcycle!) because we’d spotted a small herd of buffalo. I got my gear out of the bag and affixed the telephoto lens (an EF 70-300 f/4-5.6 IS, to be exact, which I’d rented from Pro Photo Rental). Before I even started taking shots, my husband called my attention to the field on the other side of the road.

A lone buffalo had become separated from the rest of the herd, and was trying to time his crossing over the road. With cars coming in both directions, and a small crowd of people watching him from the pulloff on the other side, he was a little tentative. We started discussing among the group of people if we should somehow stop traffic so he could cross, but then he deemed that unnecessary.

First, he approached the fence:


Then, he checked for traffic. First he looked right:


Then he looked left:


Then he made his slow and steady way…


…across the road…


…to the other side and past the watching crowd of people…


…to the gap in the fence, where he was reunited with his friends.


It was such an unbelievably thrilling moment for us all, and a photographer’s dream come true. Now every time I look at any of the photos from that series I remember the soft clop-clop of his hooves on the pavement, how we all held still and held our breath so as not to startle him, how patient he was and how he practically posed for all of our pictures. It was such an incredible day.

Please, share with us your own stories behind the photo! Place a photo or link to a photo in the comments, and tell us what happened while you were getting the shot. We’d love to hear all about your experiences.

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  • texassky

    haha! that's hilarious! animals are so smart. thanks for sharing!

  • Heidi Anne Morris

    I was in this area last August (we did our 4000 mile road trip from Denver to Seattle down to Eureka and across to Moab)

    A similar thing happened to us. With some Bison crossing in front and some behind it was a little overwhelming when I turned around to see a huge male less than a car length away. Such beautiful creatures, we are so lucky to have these experiences. I wish I had thought about renting a lens and will probably do that next time:O)

    Here's a link to my shots from that day.….

    These were taken in Yellowstone National Park, in Hayden Valley.

  • Jack Tasoff

    The animal is an American Bison. Buffalos live in Africa and Asia, but, not in the Americas.