Shepherd in the Desert

A sheperd cleaning the campsite.
A shepherd cleaning the campsite.

A long time ago. In the Arizona desert.

Here’s how it goes. After we left the South — the first time — we moved back to California. Eventually, I went back to school. I changed my career path. I went from taking pictures to editing. I managed other photographers. I worked with them to produce the best images that they could. I represented photography in the newsroom. I designed some news pages. I did the things you do at a newspaper.

Then I stopped doing them. I left the newspaper world and moved on to the kind of work I do today. I worked at a couple of photo agencies. A little one and big one. The big one was one of four large agencies that were rolled up and became what you might know today as Getty Images. The one that I worked for — The Image Bank — was owned, at the time, by Eastman Kodak. I worked in the corporate office which was located in Dallas, Texas. The South part two. And, I spent most of my time in Hong Kong.

Anyway. It was during my time working for West Coast newspapers and the little agency — called Westlight — that I started mostly working in color. Still working in film. But, color film. Digital capture was only a gleam in some people’s eyes.

However, I still liked working in black and white. I shot it when I could. These pictures were made in 1990. I was well into shooting color film. I went to visit a friend who lived in Payson, Arizona. We worked together in Virginia. He was the sole editor-reporter-photographer of the little newspaper in Payson. Normally, I’m of a mind that doing all those jobs at once never really works. Something suffers. But, my buddy could really shoot. And, write. And edit. A very rare combination. While I was there, he asked how I’d feel about taking a few pictures. We’d do what we used to do… sounded good to me. So, off we went. We did our old roaming around looking for pictures… and stories. We had some fun.

We stumbled into these pictures. Shepherds and their flock of sheep.

The pictures. By then I was working with Nikon N90s and 8008s. Smaller, lighter cameras than the big “pro” cameras. I suppose I was already thinking, lighter and more easily portable. These two pictures were made with a 20mm f.28 lens. The film. What else? Kodak Tri-X rated at ISO 320. By then I realized that under rating the film was the way to go. Better shadow detail.

Sheep on the range.
Sheep on the range.

And, a final thought.

Muhammad Ali passed last night just as we were falling asleep. Well, after that, tried to sleep. I knew what was to come. All very well deserved, but endless tributes, on every possible social media. Sharing from every possible news, photo and sports site. As when other “famous” people pass, I made the conscious decision to say very little. I really don’t need to add to the billions of words that have already been written. What more could I say? That hasn’t been said? He was transcendent. He was beloved. For those of us with certain beliefs, he spoke for a generation. How many people can claim that?

Just know this. Our hearts are very heavy today. We retreat into who and what we are. We work. Harder.


The work is the prayer.




Published by Ray Laskowitz

I am a visual storyteller. I've been making pictures for some 40 years. I travel the world in search of the right image. in the right light at the right time. You can reach me by phone at 505.280.4686, or by email at or For a quick look at my work please go to

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