“Mom and Dad in the Driftless” by Pete Olsen

My folks were both out in the garden and yard, doing some spring time maintenance. Mom getting her garden ready for the coming summer and dad was out picking up fallen branches from the trees in our yard. Both working to get ready for the year as it began to flourish into summer.

I wanted to capture the moment with them, using the tools they were actually using as it was happening. I based this photograph off of another I had taken of a farmer friend whom I had in front of a barn or his holding a pitchfork, which can be seen on my website. I’m also cognizant of the fact that there is a similarity between this image and that of the painting of Grant Wood, American Gothic. I guess imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I believe this image stands on its own irrespective of its similarity to other imagery.

This day is one that is so typical of things progress each spring on the farm. Mom spends most of her waking hours in her garden once the weather becomes palatable enough to be outdoors in Western Wisconsin. So by this time (this photo was taken in early May) she has spent several weeks getting things ready. As you can see the dirt in the background has been tilled already and the seed bed is ready for the next step. The raking of the excess organic matter off the top is nearly finished. Dad is a bit more limited in his mobility but spends his time helping clean up the yard as the winter and spring winds had broken branches and left it’s own tell tale sign of a dormant period. I love this moment because it’s so typical of the passage of time and speaks to the renewal of what is about to come as the season’s change.

What do you think are the TWO most impactful features that make your image a good photograph? Don’t be shy!

The texture of my dad’s hands and the resolute strength that my mom projects.

If you would be able to make this photo once again, what would be the ONE thing you would like to do better or different?

Not to come across as prideful but I wouldn’t change a thing.

Pete Olsen shared this photograph in the FRAMES Facebook Group.


Pete Olsen, Ontario, Wisconsin, USA


Equipment and settings

Nikon Z6 and Nikkor 24-70 2.8 VR lens. Shot at f/2.8.

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Comments (2):


    February 2, 2022 at 11:09

    Many stories in their faces and standing to wonder about their life… Congratulations…

  2. Gerry

    March 9, 2022 at 16:03

    I love this picture. Your mom’s semi-smirk tells me that she’s amused by the time-out to take this picture but is also having a good time. Dad seems to tolerate the pause in his work. 🙂


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