It’s my favorite time of day during one of my favorite times of the year in one of my favorite places.

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I’m sitting alongside the Platte River in Nebraska, listening to far away train whistles sliding through the crisp, clear, chill of early morning air, piercing the cacophony of calls from 500,000 Sandhill Cranes getting ready to take flight when the sun creeps across the horizon.

Sandhill Crane Migration 2015 Grand Island, NE

The water and the scene bring my thoughts to my absent friend, Bill Epperidge. Epp was one of a kind. A great documentary and sports photographer. He was the guy during some Life Magazines greatest years.

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One night sitting in our Olympic Village cottage in Lillehammer, I casually mentioned to Epp that I had met Bobby Kennedy when I young.

He asked when and where. Epp had an incredible memory.  He remembered the trip and found the image of a young me in a room with a group of kids and RFK in 1967.

Bill and I became great friends in the 1980s, and I got to spend the better part of two decades with my name right next to his on the masthead of Sports Illustrated.  One of my photography heroes and a truly lovely guy.

He was a great storyteller, and a wonderful companion.

He loved fishing, and I just read a fine book, On the Water: A Fishing Memoir, that I think he would have loved.

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My colleague from the Miami Herald Carl Hiassen wrote the forward.  I have huge respect for the wide range of work Carl has crafted during a long and prolific career.  Another guy who always makes me think, and smile.

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It’s interesting how life takes you in small tight circles.

From the only in Nebraska department.

On our way to Gibbon Sunday night we stopped for coffee. I was paying when I heard Laura exclaim. “Katie Morrow!!!”

I figured she was getting a call from the lovely Katie, but when I turned – carefully so as to not spill the coffee – there in the doorway was Katie her own self.

Right behind Katie was Kevin, resplendent in one of our Nebraska Project T-shirts.

They were headed home to O’Neill from Seward, a distance of about 4 hours.

I know it’s rural out here, and while I realize there aren’t that many coffee shops, there are a few, and so this was a very chance meeting.

K&K are a force. One of them always has the answer for my esoteric Nebraska centric requests. So when I mentioned off hand last summer I needed a song about small town life in the state Kevin looked up from the delicious bbq we were consuming and said “I’ll bet Rachel could do it.”

Two phone calls later a grass covered, well-tanned young woman showed up at the Morrows from cutting the lawn at a town park and well, we knew instantly Rachel Price was perfect.

We soon shot a music video in a meadow outside O’Neill that Kevin arranged for us to use.

That video went viral immediately.

Rachel composed and performed the song.

Back to the coffee shop encounter. Katie casually mentioned Rachel was in Nebraska on part two of her current tour, only 175 miles distant.

After a quick online chat with Rachel—I love technology—we secured tickets to the show, to see her perform l at the Black Cow Fat Pig in Norfolk, NE.

We started at our usual time of 430 am, spent 4 hours on the Platte, photographing the crane migration.

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I spoke at the Grand Island Rotary club, especially fun because in the crowd of 300 was my aunt Elsie who just celebrated her 70th wedding anniversary with my uncle Allen.  She waited until after the speech to ask me the tough questions, fortunately.

The crowd was great, these are my people and I owe them a lot collectively.

After I finished I was talking with a group of folks one of the ladies took my hand and said I remember you when you were that 8-year-old boy you mentioned in your talk.

Sure enough she had been a neighbor and had taught with my mom. That was about 50 years ago, and I remembered her as taller—then again maybe that’s because when I met her I wasn’t yet five feet tall and now I’m 6’4. Funny how that works.

Laura finally pulled me away, I’ll talk with Nebraskans all day long.  And we headed out.

It was a very pleasant drive north, farmers prepping their fields, that annual renewal of turning the frozen earth into bountiful fields bringing food to the world.  When you grow up in a farm community there is a special symmetry to this part of the year, a resignation that things are about to get really tough physically and very rewarding spiritually, knowing the importance of how the process works.
We rolled up to the BCFP—where I sadly learned there were no t-shirts available to commemorate our visit. Seriously, how can the name of the place be so awesome and…….well, I digress.

So we’re sitting at Rachel Price’s most excellent concert tonight —the woman can not only sing but she is a fine writer—and halfway through Rachel’s show her father Chuck leans across the table and said “Hey Katie Morrow, did I hear you on NPR today?”

She quietly said, “Yes, you did”

Small town Nebraska. How can you not love it?

Then yesterday we learned that the NPPA had chosen the Nebraska Project has the Second Place winner in Documentary Multimedia Package. We are honored and owe the success of the project to the people of Nebraska, and look forward to continuing the Nebraska Project this year and next.

Iceland is the land of fire and ice; volcanoes and glaciers.

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It is a land of extremes. Extreme weather. Extreme landscapes. Extreme beauty.

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Last year we took a group of 12 friends to Iceland, starting and ending our trip in Reykjavik – one of the coziest capital cities in the world.

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We trekked from the eastern city of Höfn, all the way down across the southern coast, inland to Geysir, then west to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Our driver, Solveig, seemed to never tire, always willing to keep going – to keep looking for photos.

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Our trip brought us a lot of everything. We saw icebergs off the Vatnajökull, puffins on the coast, waterfalls coming out of canyons, black beaches. We watched the Strokkur explode at the Geysir Geothermal Park, we bathed in the blue lagoon outside of Keflavik, we ate local food and even crashed a wedding.

The trip was one for the ages. And we’re going back.

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We’ve teamed back up with Solveig, our driver extraordinaire, and are trying something new. An even better itinerary than last year. This time heading north and west. This will mean fjords, glaciers, geothermal areas, whale watching and more. We leave August 12 from Reykjavik and stay until August 21.

We can’t wait to start this new adventure and hope you will want to join us. If you’re interested, let us know. We’re always happy to have more of our friends share in these experiences.

This time of year brings us one of the most emotionally charged events in sport – March Madness. The NCAA Tournament. We covered the rounds of 64 and 32 with Sports Illustrated in Jacksonville, FL. Check out our story and some of our favorite images from those games.

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Georgia State’s coach Ron Hunter falls off his stool after his son, RJ, hit the game winning three point shot to advance the Panthers to the round of 32.

I often seek solace in the company of books. I spend a lot of time searching bookstores for gems that I might not otherwise run across.

Online can be a great place to buy if you know what you want, but there’s nothing like the advice of an educated and passionate bookseller – the kind I find in places like Books + Books in Coral Gables, FL, Square Books in Oxford, MS, or Powells in Portland, OR.

Yesterday I was roaming through Books Inc., a small independent bookstore in Mountain View, CA, when a new title by an old acquaintance caught my eye.

In November of 1992, I was still recovering from Hurricane Andrew cutting a wide swath of destruction through my then hometown of Miami, FL, when Sports Illustrated Director of Photography Heinz Kluetmeier called with a dream assignment. He sent me to Sydney, Australia to work for the Australian edition of SI.

Not only was it a huge relief to get a break from a still reeling South Florida, but sports-crazed Oz was a haven for a photographer. Gorgeous light, amazing subject matter, a generous expense account — fun stuff.

One of my first assignments was to work with an Australian writer, Thomas Keneally, who at the time was not widely known in the US in spite of his great achievement in literature.

Together we worked on a piece on how the different football codes in Australia influenced the towns where they were played, and vice versa.

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It was a serious eye-opener for me, accustomed only really to grid iron (American football) and soccer. Seeing Aussie Rules played at the MCG in front of 150,000 fans. Rugby League in front of huge crowds in Sydney as fans loudly chanted, “Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi” Footie on the Gold Coast, covering the great Abbott in the Geelong. Pickup games in the Red Center near Alice Springs. Mourning the loss of Fitzroy from Melbourne to Brisbane.

Traveling with and listening to the master raconteur work was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had teamed with a writer, and I have had some excellent ones.

Funny and intense in seemingly equal measures, he coached me through the intricacies of the intersection of sport and culture in Australia.

On one of our flights, he mentioned one of his books had been optioned as a movie. In that casual, familiar Australian way, he asked if I had heard of the film’s director and what I thought of his work.

The next year, Keneally gained world-wide fame when Steven Spielberg released the film done from that book, Schindler’s List. The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

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