Photos by Peter Longno, courtesy of Texas Farm and Home magazine
In a season of magazine racks overflowing with pictures of golden-brown turkeys and headlines shouting “15 Delicious Stuffing Recipes,” a magazine cover featuring a stark silhouette of a longhorn statue juxtaposed with a tumultuous grey sky background is a bold and refreshing alternative to another helping of media mashed potatoes and gravy. Open the front cover of Texas Farm & Home and in small letters at the bottom it reads: Cover photo by Peter Longno.
Peter Longno may be a man of few words but his photographs speak volumes. They speak of a passionate but humble photographer that quietly captures beauty, and tells fascinating stories of the seemingly mundane land of West Texas.
“Photography is a passion, an art form, a way for me to express what I see from my very own eyes to a physical copy,” said Longno.
Longno is a recent graduate of Texas Tech University, and former photography student of instructor Kippra Hopper. She was contacted by one of the managing editors at Texas Farm & Home, in search of Texas Tech students to write and photograph an article on the National Ranching Heritage Center.
“I asked Ms. Hopper to find me an eager student to help with the project. Seeing as the ranching center was associated with the university, I thought it a natural fit to go with a promising student,” said managing editor Wayne Stewart.
Hopper had just the promising student in mind; she thought of Longno immediately.
“He was a really good student, really good photographer, teaching himself a lot about lighting, and I was just impressed with him because he’s so ambitious and a perfectionist in his work, Hopper said.
Beyond the cover, Longno was able to get 16 of his photographs published in a six-page spread in the November edition.
“When we saw the photos Peter had uploaded, the silhouette of the longhorn statue made a deep impression on us, and to us, it symbolized the ranching heritage of Texas. Peter gave us more than we could’ve hoped for,” Stewart said.
With his first published works, Longno beat Thanksgiving for the cover story.
“I was surprised to get the cover story, but also really excited,” said Longno.
Longno’s passion for photography comes to life when he talks about his favorite photograph of the 16. It is a photograph of a simple one-room cabin that sits at the bottom of a hill, warm light basking in its perfectly weathered walls. It is surrounded by a neatly manicured garden that seems almost out-of-place next to the old cabin, but the picture captures the ambiance and spirit of a carefree simplicity, perfectly.
Longno hardly acknowledged his accomplishment, but when speaking of this photograph Longno spotted the cabin through the trees while roaming the grounds one morning and shot the picture with a long lens through the trees. Maybe that is part of the magic of the photo; he was able to capture the cabin just as it was waking up, unaware that the morning light was making it so beautiful.
Hopper, who also has taught a class in magazine writing, became Longno’s accidental collaborator when the student who was going to write the article dropped out at the last-minute. In a demonstration of her dedication to her students, Hopper came to the rescue and wrote the magazine article herself.
“I wanted Peter to have this opportunity to get published, so I wrote a narrative article so I could make sure that his photographs would get published,” Hopper said.
Along with a passion for her student’s success, Hopper has a deep love for finding the beauty of West Texas and articulating it through photography. She is teaching a West Texas Photography class this spring as a PHOT 4300-001 special topics class.
“West Texas is my forte; that’s my main body of work for my lifetime. I think it’s going to be fun,” Hopper said.
And who knows how many covers for Texas Farm & Home might come out of that class?