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Spontaneity completes the moment

Memorable photo the result of teamwork
By Glen Liford, Editor 7/29/2021


Kenneth Neal and grandson Houston appeared on the cover of Tennessee Farmers Cooeprative’s 1992 Annual Report. The touching moment depicted in the photo resonated with many who shared similar experiences with their own children and grandchildren.
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This month’s Every Farmer Has a Story column features the Neal brothers from Wilson County.

The Neals’ father, Kenneth, was a long-time Wilson Farmers Co-op director and customer. His picture, along with grandson Houston, who was 5 years old at the time, graced the cover of Tennessee Farmers Cooperative’s 1992 Annual Report. The photo still stands out to me from the many I have taken of Tennessee’s top farmers through the years. Mr. Neal was patient, kind, and easy to work with as my coworker Page Haynes and I worked to get a memorable shot at his property in Tuckers Crosssroads on a bright and clear October morning. As we scouted some suitable locations around the farm, I was immediately drawn to the beautiful red barn that appears in the final photo. But as we worked the scene, I admit I was struggling a bit. I visualized the shot and positioned myself fairly quickly, selecting a low-angle perspective and a telephoto lens to compress the scene and paint the subjects against the stunning red barn with a perfectly placed white star. It was Page, however, that added the final detail that made the photo a winner. Grandson Houston was stiff and appeared uncomfortable in the first several shots until Page stepped up while I was shooting and suggested he throw some of the brightly colored orange leaves in the air. That simple act completed the captured moment, and it sealed the shot. Page failed to get the credit she deserved when the photo’s depiction of the love of a grandfather and grandson and farm life resonated with so many folks. The picture won several awards, including first place in the photo illustration category at the Cooperative Communicators Institute the following year. The photo has held up well over the years, though the design of the annual report now seems dated. 

That’s a segue into another topic for discussion this month, and perhaps a good explanation for a mistake I made when we redesigned The Cooperator in January 2019. In an effort to freshen the magazine’s appearance, we made a number of changes, including modifying its size and deleting what we thought were some dated design elements. I thought we made some nice improvements, but one of those changes was dropping the map showing the locations of each story. I have to admit now that was a mistake. Almost immediately, we had numerous requests from readers, Co-op employees, and store managers to revive the map. The popular element makes its return this issue, and I hope it adds to your enjoyment of The Cooperator. If you want to write and tell me “I told you so,” I can take it.

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