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ABOUT Out&About!


I became the official staff photographer for The Crestone Eagle newspaper in March of 2012. Over the next few years, my editor, Kizzen Lakai would sometimes say things like, "You take such great photos of people at events.. why don't you start taking pictures while you're out and about in town - at the restaurants, grocery stores.. just snap people's pictures for the paper - what's going on in day-to-day Crestone.."

Well, that felt a little awkward, so I never really did that.

However, building on my editor's idea, I decided in December of 2015 to start a column where I'd take people's pictures and also ask them a question, alternating questions each month. Thus, the "Out&About with Lori Sunflower" column was born in January of 2016. As of this writing, on 12/12/2023, it's been in publication for 8 years and still going strong. I have never censored any answers, and have only edited occasionally for grammar, clarity and brevity.  I've lost count of how many interviewees have been in my column at this point, but there've been anywhere from 4 to 12 of them per month - probably an average of 8 or so... times 12 is 96 people per year, times 8 years is 768 people, give or take, so.... a lot! 


My very first column in 2016, and one of my favorite topics...

 A Few Tweaks. . .  

One of the struggles with my column over the years was with how much people did or didn't talk. If it were up to me and I had unlimited space, I'd prefer to edit only for grammar and clarity. However, it wasn't up to me and I did have limited space, so I had to quite often edit for brevity. And I was told it was always tricky for the editorial staff at the newspaper, figuring out the best ways to place the photos and text, often having to edit down the text even more than I already had. I usually encouraged interviewees to stick to around 200 words each, which was about 2 minutes of talking when I did recorded interviews. And the word count mattered even more with how many people I interviewed each month.  It always varied, and if there were more people, that meant more photos, which meant less room for text. So again, that was the trickiest part. And I was told a few times that my column was the editing team's least favorite page to assemble each month...


"The new look" ~ August 2023

So in May of 2021, I made things easier on myself and on the newspaper staff. I started making full page collages out of my column. Answers are now shorter, which means less thinking required by the interviewees and easier for readers of the Crestone Eagle to peruse through quickly. I focus more on the photos, which are most often full body shots, although not always, depending on how many people I interview and what space I've got to work with. I don't have to edit for brevity anymore, which frees up a huge chunk of my time each month, and the newspaper staff is happy to just receive a full page from me that they can just slap in the paper, rather than having to spend hours editing it.

This past year, it's also started printing in color, so that's another bonus/upgrade!

On a personal note, I have really loved doing this column over the years. Sometimes I feel shy or socially awkward and it helps me to re-connect with people and meet others who I may not have otherwise met. I love getting to take people's photos and hopefully I've given lots of people images of themselves in the newspaper that they can be proud of.  

I like thinking of different topics each month, and hope many of them have been thought-provoking to many of you over the years. And now that my son is getting older, he often helps me come up with column topics, too. And finally, I love sitting down at the computer and putting it all together into an eye-catching and pleasant piece of journalism that many enjoy reading each month. It's like an intricate puzzle, creatively moving photos and text all over the place to make it all fit just right. I like exercising my brain in that way.

A psychic once told me, maybe in 2009 or so, that I would "give a voice to those who do not have one." I feel like this column has empowered me to do just that. I've also been told by community members that they love learning a little about their neighbors by reading my column, and they've also told me often that it's the first thing they read in the Crestone Eagle newspaper every month. I am humbly honored to be able to serve my community in this way, and it's a definite bonus that I enjoy putting all those puzzle pieces together month after month!


If you ever have any ideas for future column topics, please don't hesitate to pass it on to me... I just might use it. ;)  

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