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Year in Photos: ‘These Are Moments When Something Out of the Ordinary Occurs’

Mia, a Jack Russell Terrier, howls at her owner, Henrey Ilsley to keep mowing the lawn at his home in Bradford, Vt., after he stopped momentarily on May 21, 2013. Mia always mows the lawn with Ilsley, and according to her owner, is a taskmisteress, "She's definitely the boss. If I stop she'll keep barking until I start mowing again." (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

Mia, a Jack Russell Terrier, howls at her owner, Henrey Ilsley to keep mowing the lawn at his home in Bradford, Vt., after he stopped momentarily on May 21, 2013. Mia always mows the lawn with Ilsley, and according to her owner, is a taskmisteress, "She's definitely the boss. If I stop she'll keep barking until I start mowing again." (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

Every now and then photographers are given what a colleague refers to as “a gift from the photo gods.” These are moments when something out of the ordinary occurs. It could be a visual coincidence or funny moment where a photographer with a working camera happens to document it.

I’ll see a moment like this from my car sometimes — such as a giggling boy spraying cars with a squirt gun — but before I can pull over, the kid will have thrown down his squirt gun and run away to bother somebody else.

When I spotted Henrey Ilsley mowing his lawn at his Bradford, Vt., home on a late May afternoon, with his Jack Russell Terrier, Mia, sitting in a plastic chair strapped to the mower, I knew the moment had potential.

I parked my car on the side of the road and strode over to Ilsley, nervous that he’d say no to my request to photograph him, and I’d be the only one to witness the humorous scene. In this case, I had nothing to worry about. Ilsley readily agreed to let me photograph him once he had turned off the lawnmower to understand what I was saying.

I was unprepared, however, for Mia, who began howling as soon as the lawnmower stopped. “I’m sorry,” said Illsley, “I have to keep mowing — she’ll keep barking until I start mowing again.”

That’s when the photo came together — the willing subject, the howling dog and the strange situation on that beautiful May day. It was a gift, all right, one that I was happy to share with the people of the Upper Valley, and one that deserves another look. — Sarah Priestap

The Valley News' three staff photographers and two interns are sharing the stories behind their favorite photographs of the year. Read about their favorites in their own words at this link. More of their favorites can be seen in the Photo Galleries section.

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'Valley News' Photographers' Year in Photos

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Valley News' three staff photographers and two interns are sharing the stories behind their favorite photographs of the year. Read about their photos in their own words at the links below. More of their favorites can be seen in the Photo Galleries section. …