Full Circle in a Pair of Small Nebraska Towns by SARA TANNER

Amy Sandeen and I were standing on a glacier in Iceland and I looked her and said do you know where we need to go?  Sutton, Nebraska.  

She smiled and said, of course we do.

A few weeks later we were walking into Browns' Thrift Store.  More than fifty years ago my grandfather Adolph Roemmich would take my hand and walk me three LONG blocks from his house to Sutton’s main street.  We’d go to Browns.  For chocolate clusters and pickles.  And to look at the magazine rack just inside the front door right next to the cash registers.


He’d show me Life, Time, Sports Illustrated.  It was my window on the world outside rural Nebraska. Big bold beautiful images crafted by the best photographers working. What a life they must have had.  Real life Walter Mitty’s.  I saw things I’d never seen before presented by people who knew how to observe.  .

I would spend hours looking at those publications—and the man running the store took pity on me, at my age, I couldn’t afford any of those glorious glossies, so he let me treat his store like a library.

So on a lovely late September afternoon this year I went in to pick up a coke.   And found my past and my future.  

The chocolate and pickles are still there. So is the magazine rack. Looks about the same, a little the worse from decades of use. There was a tow headed kid standing there looking at an SI. And one of my images was on the cover.  

I grew up in the Panhandle.  The big paper there is the Scottsbluff Star-Herald. As a kid I was a newspaper boy carrying the StarHerald to 100 homes, 6 days a week, for 4 years.   

The Star-Herald would drop a bundle of the papers on my front lawn around 4:30 a.m., and by 5 a.m. I had folded them, put rubber bands around them and packed them into a cloth bag that fit on the handle bars of my bike. My route was 3 1/2 miles long. During the spring, summer and fall it was awesome. Up early, out on my bicycle, throwing things. Best exercise, best time of day, and it paid well. 

It was a wonderful education.

Imagine my delight when the StarHerald devoted a big chunk of their Sunday front page real estate to a story about my

Yet another nice hug from Nebraska.



It's Here: The Nebraska Project by SARA TANNER


After six months of shooting and traveling around the prairie lands, I'm excited to announce the launch of Straw Hat Visuals' new artistic and storytelling endeavor -- The Nebraska Project.

To me, Nebraska is not only my birth place, but a rich terrain for the imagination and the journalist. It is a place of cowboys and poets, buffalo and meadowlarks.

Often overlooked as the middle of nowhere, Nebraska is actually the center of everything, providing sustenance and grit for the country.

Some stories are small, like the 60 year romance between Rodney and Delores, and some are as big as the Nebraska sky itself.

There are many more stories to tell and ways we can together preserve and record the beauty of America’s majestic frontier.

I hope you enjoy our project and learning more about Nebraska - the land and people who make it great.

Visit the Nebraska Project. 

Short Film Premier - Prairie Lights Film Festival by SARA TANNER


I am pleased to announce that my short film, A Teacher Remembered, will premier at the Prairie Lights Film Festival this weekend.

My documentary, produced with the help of many friends,  follows the impact of a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse on a rural Nebraskan community.


It will premier during the Sunday morning block of films on September 14.

Weekend passes for the festival are available online now.

The Prairie Lights Film Festival is a 3-day showcase of Nebraska cinema and Nebraska filmmakers held at the historic Grand Theatre in Grand Island, Nebraska.  The festival takes place September 12 -14.

Learn more at


Throwback Thursday: On the Road with Peter King and John Madden by Bill Frakes

In November 1990, I flew to Oakland to meet SI writer Peter King for a trip across America with John Madden. A unique experience to say the least, and by unique I mean crazy. I climbed onto the top of a moving truck to shoot the Madden Bus rolling through the desert, changed a flat tire like a NASCAR pit crew in Western Nebraska (although in fairness, they are about 1,000 times faster, it just felt like being on a NASCAR pit crew), talked football through Ohio, and watched Madden put his head in a hippopotamus drinking fountain in a small Pennsylvania town.

Sports Illustrated published the story across a multi-page layout. Now I think, the story would be told not only in the classic great SI style, but also through video and multimedia both on and on the iPad edition of the magazine.

Last Friday, I was in Oxnard at the Dallas Cowboys Training Camp again with Peter King for the start of another journey. This time I was there to do some video projects with Peter for the launch of his great new SI branded Website