Kentucky Living recently assigned me a Uniquely Kentucky page. My subject was the Beech Fork Covered Wooden Bridge and the husband and wife team of Arnold Graton and Meg Dansereau that had been restoring it for a year and a half. It’s 210 feet, the longest covered wooden bridge in Kentucky. My piece was a follow-up to coverage the magazine had given at the beginning of the restoration process. The bridge was nearly complete with an opening date of Dec. 25, 2017.

We discussed various situations I might photograph him in for the full-page photo spread, all sorts of ways to make a large photo with space for a text box to be placed over the photo. But when I arrived, I learned that Arnold had turned his ankle a couple of days before. He was in pain walking around on it, so this greatly reduced his mobility and restricted him to level ground.

So I was limited in what I could do with Arnold. There wasn’t much level ground around the bridge to stand him on and still have him “candidly” working on it in any believable way. Putting him out on the highway with the replacement bridge that ran parallel to the old bridge placed him too far away and would cause him to walk too much.

When I arrived, I expected a finished bridge, based on our discussions and the photos I’d seen. But there was no floor in the bridge yet, as that was their goal for the day. It was after lunch when we finally had enough floor installed to give us enough room to stand inside, but it gave me enough space to see that it was the best place to put Arnold for the photo, even if I wouldn’t be able to get him “candidly” working.

Shooting the video and portrait inside was my best option and the only way to make a clean background and control the ambient light. As workers continued adding floor boards, I set up a light with a shoot-through umbrella and almost lost it – the bridge was a wind tunnel! I had to rely on the frosted cover for my light to diffuse the output. Later when I shot the video, I bumped up the gain on my microphone. Almost too much, but I had clear audio.

I was thankful for the walking stick he was using, as it gave him something useful to do with his hands. I asked him to look around at the work he’d done to keep him from looking directly at the camera and also have at least one eye in the frame!

It was a beautiful day and a great drive home. After uploading everything, Kentucky Living posted the video on their site. I received the print issue a few days ago, but the Uniquely Kentucky page won’t post on their website until their next issue hits the mailboxes.

The photo Kentucky Living editors chose was the next frame after the one I liked above, of Arnold looking more up and away.

Beech Fork Covered Bridge for Kentucky Living

Restorationist and conservationist Arnold M. Graton Associates, Inc., of Ashland, NH, a master bridge wright, and his wife Meg near completion of the Beech Fork Covered Wooden Bridge Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, near Springfield, Ky., as they and workers add the floor boards to finish by December 25. (Photo by Brian Bohannon)

I recently met Arnold and his wife Meg as they and others worked on the Beech Fork Covered Wooden Bridge last Wednesday near Springfield, Ky. They were adding the floor boards that day, and Arnold was having a hard time getting around. He’d twisted his ankle three days prior, so he was limited in what he could do for the camera. I had so many ideas of where to place him, but the setting dictated how I would photograph him, and it would have to be inside the bridge.

Kentucky Living Magazine sent me there for a portrait of Arnold for use in an upcoming issue, and asked for a short video interview. They used some of the photos for an online feature published this week in their Explore section as a follow-up to an earlier story about the restoration of the bridge.

Take a look at the story and video online at Kentucky Living’s Explore section:

Christmas Day opening predicted for historic covered bridge, by Joe Arnold.