Uniquely Cindy

After recently photographing Cindy Pierce’s wonderful sold-out “Shuffle the Deck” performance in White River Junction, Vt., I feel so fortunate to have known Cindy over the past 20 years. I first met Cindy and Bruce as their wedding photographer then a few years later Cindy asked me to do promotional photography for her new venture, comic storytelling about her life. Cindy’s found her calling by traveling the country to speak to students about sexual health with her clear and honest approach. Cindy’s one of the most kind, giving, open and funny people I know! Here’s a few photos from the recent performance and others from the stage and her work at Pierce’s Inn from over the years:

The Year in Pictures

As usual, it’s been a busy year for me and my photography. I enjoy the variety of the work, whether it’s the unpredictability of newspaper photography, documenting important family events like weddings and other gatherings, or aiming the lens to tell the story of my community. Here’s a few of my favorites, with a bit of commentary:

Since photographing their wedding ten years ago, Cara and Dean have had me to their Barnard, Vt., home several times to document their growing family. As things were winding down this summer, Baiah and her siblings were exploring the nearby pond and she showed me her sweet and beautiful creation.

When the phone rings at home later in the evening, it’s usually an editor at the VALLEY NEWS. There was a lightning strike at a Vershire, Vt., home, which is a couple of towns away from me. After negotiating with a reluctant home owner, I got access, photographed the investigation and uploaded the photo into the system via. my cell phone close to midnight. Technology is amazing!

I’ve known Logan since her younger sister and my daughter entered kindergarten 13 years ago. Logan and Nick were married in a beautiful hilltop ceremony in Tunbridge, Vt., then had a reception at the fairgrounds in town. When their wedding party — who are also rec league softball teammates — toasted the couple by shotgunning cans of beer, I held the camera over my head and hoped I got the photo.

When the largest schools in Vermont are puny compared with others in the Northeast, the state’s smallest Division IV basketball teams are scrappy and play with tons of heart. In the championship game, Sharon Academy held on to win 60-56 over Danville and coach Blake Fabrikant was as happy as the players were. It was the school’s first championship win and I was there for the VALLEY NEWS to capture it.

In an exchange for partial CSA payment, I have been doing photography and maintaining Tunbridge Hill Farm’s website for the past several years. When I look back at my photos in the middle of winter, I can vividly recall the warm soil under my bare feet and the sweet taste of the peas plucked from their dewey pods.

Driving to cover a Claremont, N.H., City Council meeting for the VALLEY NEWS, I was not expecting much. As part of a school project, 10-year-old boy was to present a petition to lower the speed limit near his house. But once I saw his mother tear up with pride while seeing her self-assured son confidently reading his speech, I was hooked!

The newspaper has been naming the best male and female athlete for the 18 high schools it covers for the past several years, marked with portraits and a special publication. Oxbow High running sensation Izzy Giesing has won it four times, and I think I’ve done her portrait each time. Wanting to change it up, I had the thought to photograph Izzy’s spiked shoes flying through the air. With help from her twin sister, we did several attempts and laughed a lot at the shoes poking both of them while they landed.

Another victim of changing times, the venerable local office supply business Twin State Typewriter was closing its doors in White River Junction, Vt. While working in the store with VALLEY NEWS reporter John Lippman, I was happy to photograph customer Becca White’s reaction to the news from Donald and Wanda Nalette.

I have tagged along with my daughter to the July 4 birthday celebration for her friend’s brother for several years. It’s held at the Woodstock, Vt., community fireworks display and his parents are fully equipped with not only cake but party favors. The kids’ creative uses of glow sticks and their reaction to the display made me happy I brought my camera and its good lens!

Sometimes portraits just fall in your lap — I had an assignment to photograph property management owner Melissa Allen at her office in Grantham, N.H., for ENTERPRISE, the VALLEY NEWS’ business magazine. I was greeted by Penelope, Melissa’s sweet basset hound, and asked if Penelope could be in the photo on her desk, where there was nice morning light. Melissa relaxed, having her dog in the picture.

I was interested to see how competitive go-karting works as I spent the morning with Matthew Winter and his family at the Canaan Motor Club for a VALLEY NEWS story. There was a lot of time spent preparing the kart, attending the drivers’ meeting and doing qualifying races before the feature. When there was a bit of tension about adjusting the kart between Matthew’s father and an official, I was glad to be there to document it.

On the same day as the karting assignment, I had to run down the road to the annual Abenaki and Indigenous People’s Honoring Day in White River Junction, Vt. As I arrived, the organizers were speaking and I saw that Martha Knapp, one of the founders who recently retired, was in the audience. She was presented with a dream catcher and I was lucky to be there to photograph her reaction.

My daughter is in her final year of high school at Sharon Academy and she’s loved every minute of it. The school has an annual tradition of putting on an all-school play where every student is involved in the process. Many are on stage but there are others who do the lighting, play music, sell tickets or produce the program. I enjoyed seeing students who I have known since kindergarten flourish in their roles!

For the seventh year, I volunteered to photograph Santa’s appearance at the Tunbridge Public Library. Euclid Farnham has been doing the gig much longer — since 1979. It’s not only wonderful to see his interaction with the children (his wife Priscilla is usually there as Mrs. Claus but was under the weather), but as president of the Tunbridge Historical Society, Euclid has also put my work into their archives for others to enjoy years from now.

On another VALLEY NEWS assignment, I spent the morning with Mount Lebanon Elementary School Principal Eloise Ginty for a story about her decision to leave the job at the end of the school year. Fourth-grader Leigha Hopwood gave her a big hug during a break in school work. It went so well with the quote I got from Eloise: “I enjoyed every minute of being here,” she said. “It’s a great school.”

Valley News photographs copyright © Valley News
May not be reprinted without permission

Rest Stop

Vermont Gov. Howard Dean would occasionally stop by the Valley News offices to speak about issues he and the state were working with. When I noticed the governor had slipped off his shoes, I was pleased to get a different photograph from a predictable situation.

Vermont Gov. Howard Dean rests his feet while talking with the editorial board at the VALLEY NEWS in West Lebanon, N.H., in April 1994. Dean, who was a five-term governor, ran for president as a Democrat in 2004.

Archival Quality is a series looking at Geoff Hansen’s favorite photos from over 30 years as a photographer.


Copyright © Valley News
May not be reprinted without permission


The other day, I received in the mail my signed copy of Heyday: 35 Years of Music in Minneapolis that features Daniel Corrigan’s excellent photography. While I love music and photographing musicians and performances, Dan’s vast archive puts mine to shame. He has photographed countless bands who either started in the city or were traveling through. I knew Dan when I was a student at the University of Minnesota, and wanted to do his portrait with other photographers for an arts class in 1988. Dan invited to a magazine shoot he was doing with the band Soul Asylum in a South Minneapolis apartment. He was kind and patient as I fumbled my way through the shoot — I was pleasantly surprised to see the photo included in his book!


While reading up on Dan’s book, I also found this interesting video Pitchfork did a year ago about him and his life.

Archival Quality is a series looking at Geoff Hansen’s favorite photos from over 30 years as a photographer.


Wild West

In the mid-1990s, my wife and I discovered the best remedy for Vermont’s mud season — a 10-day trip to Arizona, doing a lap of the state. The Grand Canyon is awesome for its size (277 miles long and 18 miles across at its widest point!) and for people watching. Two boys created their own version of the Wild West!

Grand Canyon play

Archival Quality is a series looking at Geoff Hansen’s favorite photos from over 30 years as a photographer.


Changing Face

Twenty years ago, I did photographs of Hartford Village, Vt., for a Valley News profile of the changing face of the small community. I did pictures at a bait shop, Head Start program, the library, Bingo hall and at professional photo lab that was about to close. Since then, the majority of the small businesses focused on photography in the area are gone, replaced by smartphones and apps.

Color printer

Color printer Dennis Grady checks a print against a customer’s guide during a work day at Hathorn/Olson Photo Labs in Hartford, Vt., in Jan. 1996. After 10 years, the business closed to leave a commercial vacancy in the village.

Archival Quality is a series looking at Geoff Hansen’s favorite photos from over 30 years as a photographer.


Copyright © Valley News
May not be reprinted without permission

Godzilla vs. Mothra

Archival Quality is back! While browsing through my work this morning, I smiled while looking at a photo of our dog Lucy towering over our friend’s puppy Tootsie in 1994. Lucy looks like the star of many Japanese monster films because dogs play with such intensity! Taking pictures of her for fun eventually turned into one of my first books, My Life As a Dog, in 1999.

Archival Quality is a series looking at Geoff Hansen’s favorite photos from over 30 years as a photographer.

Primary Focus

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been searching the Valley News archives for the “Primary Focus” page published today. As a photographer at the paper for the past 26 years, I have been a part of New Hampshire primary coverage a few times. It’s interesting to be part of the exchange of ideas and the cult of personality. Here’s a few of my own favorites:

Phil Gramm in Newport, N.H.
Bill Clinton & the Gennifer Flowers story
Dan Quayle in Woodsville, N.H.
Pat Buchanan and a cardboard George Bush

From top: Bernie Sanders gives an hour-long campaign speech to a full house at Dartmouth College’s Spaulding Auditorium on January 14, 2016; Hillary Clinton listens to an interviewer’s question during a November 2007 editorial board with the VALLEY NEWS; Phil Gramm shows off a finished shotgun while touring its manufacturing plant in Newport, N.H., in September 1995; The media anxiously waits to talk with Bill Clinton on February 12, 1992, the same the day a tabloid story accused him of having an affair; Vice President Dan Quayle heads for Woodsville High School’s gymnasium with his entourage during a January 1992 campaign appearance for the Bush/Quayle reelection campaign; Pat Buchanan plays to the media as he pretends to shake hands with a cardboard cutout of President Bush at a January 1992 Rotary meeting in White River Junction, Vt.

Copyright © Valley News
May not be reprinted without permission

Buffalo Gap

A few years ago while traveling through western South Dakota, my wife suggested we stop at the Buffalo Gap National Grassland to take a look. It’s the second largest preserved prairie in the country, but not a place I would have thought to stop (I grew up on the other side of the state). Looking at one of my photos now, I appreciate its expansiveness and imagine a time before Interstates and box stores.

Archival Quality is a series looking at Geoff Hansen’s favorite photos from over 30 years as a photographer.


Jessica & Adam

As their ceremony began in 2010, Jessica and Adam’s procession was announced with a family heirloom at the Blueberry Hill Inn in Goshen, Vt. It definitely got everyone’s attention! Personal touches are what’s great about photographing wedding ceremonies.

Archival Quality is a series looking at Geoff Hansen’s favorite photos from over 30 years as a photographer.