Serve #10 – His name is Gregg


Meet Gregg T. He’s a down-to-earth guy with a true heart for people. Gregg was recently brought in to serve as the Adult Minister at a church called NorthRidge Fellowship. In serving the families of this community, Gregg will have the opportunity to counsel those who have life struggles, as well as celebrate with those experiencing life’s joys. During my time photographing Gregg I asked him why he “Serves.” His answer was right to the point: “Each person needs to find God’s grace and discover what their role is in this world.”  Gregg’s answer I think points to a call that all we “humans” should have: to bring out the best in the people we come in contact with. Maybe we need walk alongside a person who is going through a drug or alcohol recovery, or stand with someone who’s in a life-battle with cancer. We never know how important that role could be or what impact we can have.

I’m excited to see what Gregg’s impact will be with the people at NorthRidge Fellowship whose lives he touches.
Shawn Nielsen


Serve #9 – A young man’s vision.


Serve #9

Theo M. is an honorable young man full of ambition, with a desire and calling to change the political tide. He’s a wonderful example for a “Serve.” I have watched Theo grow from a boy into the 17 year old clear-thinking, focused, intelligent, politically conservative individual he is. Don’t let the last words stop you from reading on, because I think you will see merit in his view, and understand that he may well be someone to watch as the years go on. When I asked him a few questions it was easy to see from his excitement that his compassion for people and their needs is at the very forefront of his thoughts and desires for what his future might hold. So often, we draw a line regarding what political party we tend to align with, but it seems as though Theo desires to create change in people, not just provide more political tape to cut through.

This is a quote from Theo when asked about why he serves:

“As a Christian conservative I feel called to be compassionate and sensible. My interest in politics is driven by those values. Christ offered mercy and grace yet held us accountable. The liberal big government programs have created a cycle of poverty and a lack of adequate education, which in turn leads to generations of families being stuck in social malaise. As a compassionate conservative, I know showing mercy, grace and generosity on a personal level helps others. I know that teaching the impoverished REAL hope through accountability and conservative work ethic, while serving their true needs through personal service will give the hand up needed to introduce those in need to a thriving, successful life. It’s my goal to pursue my passion for helping through a career in economics and politics that focuses on developing conservative values in policies and programming.”

I consider it an honor to know Theo. It is refreshing to know that the youth of today like Theo have heartfelt desire for the tomorrows.


Shawn Nielsen

Serve #8 – A dog’s life.



As I thought about it, a dog seemed like a likely subject for this series. I considered shooting a service dog, or a police dog; that seemed too predictable. I thought about a livestock guardian dog, but I may have been torn to shreds for coming anywhere near its flock or herd. Instead, I chose the family dog. Let me introduce our dog Pippa. She is a 2 year old English Shepherd ( She is wonderfully intelligent and makes eye contact, seemingly to understand what I want her to do next. She uses her delightfully wet nose to thrust my arm into action to giver her a pet on the head, or a rubdown of her orange and white coat. My family and I enjoy this breed immensely for their loyalty and smarts.

So on with the Why!

So why did I choose the family dog? I chose this particular subject because there is a special place in many of our hearts for dogs. As you read this I ask you to take a moment or two and think back through your years and let the memories of all the furry dogs who have walked in or out of your life wash over you . Oh, I’ m sure sometime in your life you have shared a secret or two with a dog while out on a walk, or maybe you have frolicked through the woods being pulled in the direction of a bushy-tailed squirrel or a fleeing rabbit. Or maybe you have gently run your hand over the hairy coat of your dog as you were going through hard times. You see, truthfully, a family dog looks at you as his best friend (I know it’s the other way around in most writings). A dog wants to go out and play, maybe go for a walk, heck he just wants to spend time with you.

Our lives are often made better by a faithful dog. I really think we have so much to learn from a dog in terms of how we should live life;  Be loyal, quick to forgive and ready to play!


There are also a couple of groups on Facebook to check out:

Serve #7

Serve #7



A dreary November day and a desire for a tasty hamburger brought me through the door of Lindas’ Cafe in Rogers, MN. This “old style” cafe tucked into a mall on the western side of Highway 101 in Rogers, MN is a delightful spot. You will often find one of the two Lindas (the namesakes for the restaurant) working there along with some of their family members. Every time I have been there in the past 9 years, since it first opened, I have always felt welcome. This day was no different. Linda greeted me with a smile and the words, “What can I get for you dear?” It is that kind of greeting that opens the door to people feeling welcome, maybe even feeling a little relief from what wears on their life that day. Linda shared that some of her customers are up there in years and sometimes their health, or their friends health is suffering. She feels her smile and term of affection might just change the day for someone. I imagine whether old or young, Lindas’ well served customers’ life stories and what they are struggling with are changed for a moment or two or maybe even for a long time as they sit at one of the tables in her cozy cafe.

Remember to give a tip to your server, they might just make someone’s day a little brighter. Maybe even yours!

Serve #6 – Save a life

Serve #6 is of a friend of mine named Erik.  I suppose this story is a bit about my life and how Erik is a part of that.


Erik and I have been friends since we were about four or five. We dreamed big dreams like playing professional baseball, and being billionaires driving giant, four-wheel drive trucks.  You know, cool guy stuff. We entertained ourselves for hours playing catch, maybe tackle football, or surfing in our red snow sleds down the snow-laden hills near our childhood homes.  The years when we were just little guys flew by, as often they do, and the teenage years started to come on hard.  It was at the age of fifiteen for me that Erik’s “Serve” comes into play.  It was a difficult year for me;  my Grandpa Bassett died and I was not able to play football. My grandpa was a guy who I told some of my troubles to.  I suppose I did that because he wasn’t my dad and it felt like he would listen, like Grandpas often do.  Typically he was listening with a cigarette in hand, and a sentence or two that had some sort of resolve of the years of life lived in it.  Add to that, I was a bit of an outsider to the “in” crowd, or really any crowd for that matter.  My spiral of emotions during this year was incredibly tough and I internalized far too much. The pains of being teased by fellow classmates for all the unknown teenage reasons wore my emotional strength to a barren thread.  During this spiraling time in my life Erik’s friendship remained the same, constant, tried and true.  My popularity factor didn’t matter to him, we had been through a lot; to him we were friends.  My spiral however was still going on and in my mind, my selfworth was non-existent and here is where the story comes into its fullest meaning.  In the bottom of my spiral I felt it best to end my life with my shotgun.  I had loaded my gun and while fighting back my sorrow had begun to bring the shotgun towards my head when the phone rang.  My Mom answered it and in her best nasally mom voice yelled up the stairs “Erik is on the phone, and he wants you to come play catch”.  That moment in time changed what likely would have happened.  If there was one thing I was always up for was playing catch, you could throw the ball hard, talk a little , but most of all just be friends.  Erik really saved my life that night.  He was my friend in a desperate time of need.
I look at my life today and know that each person who is a part of my life, each photograph taken, each word spoken is possible because Erik served as my best friend.  The way I care for people today is due to the road I have traveled.  I try to let that caring heart for people come out in the words I speak on a daily basis, the photographs I take, or in the wave to the person who I made eye contact with.

You never know what your words or actions in a day might mean to another.  It may just save their life

A girl, a goat and a 4H Goat Show Grand Champion = “Serve” #5

I suppose you could say this post has been 19 years in the making, well maybe more like 11.  It would be 19 years if you take into account my daughters age, or 11 if you take into account the age of the goat (Tempest).

“Tempest” the Alpine dairy goat is my subject for my “Serve” series.  How can a goat be a part of the series you may ask?  Well read on!

Abigail’s senior portrait.

Serve #5

Grand Champion.

The tears you see in one of the photos are of the emotions that most college bound youths have.  Some just wear them on their sleeve a little more like my Abigail.  This “Serve”story goes back 10 years to when Abigail began to show “Tempest” as a yearling at the Wright County Fair 4H Dairy Goat show.  Surely on Abigail”s first entrance into the ring with Tempest she  strided into the ring in her “show whites” ready to take the show ring by storm like any 9 year old would.  I don’t remember the outcome of the first show, but really it is this last one that sums it all up.  The years  since that first show have passed by all to quickly and both Abigail and Tempest have aged.  They have been to 10 county and state fairs together.  Shared countless hours together with Abigail telling Tempest all her dreams for her future.  There is a special bond between this goat and my daughter Abigail.  So those tears come with a great finish in the show ring for Abigail and Tempest and the fact that this is Abigail’s last 4H show with Tempest. So Tempest has served Abigail well as friend, fairgoer and listener.

Thank you to my wife Cristine for bringing our children up in this rural lifestyle.  Thank you to Anna for paving the way for Abigail with your awesome goat “Crystal”.

Written with Love,

Dad & Photographer

The senior portrait of my daughter was taken at a moment when the goats ears were up and I told Abigail to do the same.

Serve #4 – Sue

Thank you Anna Nielsen for writing the following story of Sue for Serve #4: For this fourth installment of the Serve series, we bring you into the home of a woman who served her father with unconditional love and astounding grace. You will notice that instead of telling you where she served, we say instead what she did. That is what matters; the depth of her servanthood. This is my aunt Sue. Serve4 When my dad approached me about writing about my aunt, I was so excited. I have had the honor to get to know her as we went on several trips together and she began to go to our church. I watched as she took in my great-grandpa, Pop, three years ago. I listened as she told me of the struggles of caring for him after he had a stroke. When asked why she had taken her father into her home, she said, “Because my husband said ‘he’s not going to be by himself. He’s not going to be alone.’” Throughout our time, she stated often the fact that her greatest motivation had been that she didn’t want Pop to be alone. After his stroke, which left him without the ability to say more than a few words for the rest of his life, he would have been completely alone living somewhere else. “He couldn’t talk,” Sue said, “that was his joy in life.” Sue didn’t want to put him into a place where no one knew him or wanted to talk to him. Because of her background in nursing, Sue was well-suited to care for Pop. And she did it so well. For the first three years of her retirement, Sue cared for Pop. She said that those three years brought with them a feeling of redemption. She had been the rebel child, she told us, breaking all the rules and pushing her parents. But in these last three years, forgiveness has been found. Pop passed away on April 11th, 2015. Just a few days before, Sue asked a question she had asked several times before. In those times, he had looked at her with a questioning look. But this time he knew confidently what his answer was. “Don’t you want to be with mom now? Aren’t you tired?” “Yes. I do.” He spoke that simple sentence clearly and without halting. It was his first words in several days and one of the last things he said. For three years, Sue cared for the man who had raised her. The man who had made her laugh and had made her angry, but who had taught her grace and love. For the last years of his life, Pop was loved and cared for. But most importantly, as Sue mentioned so many times, he wasn’t alone. Sue, thank you for your love and inspiration. But most importantly, thank you for loving and caring for the man that was so important to our family. Your grace and compassion is something that inspires many people.

Serve #3 – My Dad

The subject of Serve #3 is the greatest man in my life.  He is Niel Nielsen, my dad.   I chose this wonderful man for a few different reasons.  The first was his 32 years of service in Law Enforcement.  He served on the City of Plymouth Police Department starting in 1965 as a policeman and retired in 1996 as an investigator.  He experienced scores of things in his years of service; from drunkards, to child abusers, to kids pulling pranks on neighbors lawns.  The job triggered a few ghosts over the years but that never stopped my dad from serving as a role model to me and my brother, and friend and husband to my mother.  My dad seemed larger than life to me…he was a cop, And I growing up I thought that was pretty cool.

Serve #3

Serve #3

I tried to imagine the grandiose reasons why my dad chose law enforcement, like you would do when you’re a child, you know, like protecting us all from the bad guys, or flashing the badge to protect women and children. But, when I posed the question of “Why, dad, did you serve for that many years?” His answer wasn’t as glamorous as a typical kid might think. He simply said he had an interest in law enforcement, and that it was a stable job.  That stable job lasted 32 years.

But his “Serve” doesn’t end there. You see, he never stopped serving.  The next handful of years were filled with weekly visits to my grandmother in Minneapolis who he likes to say was his second mom until her death in the winter of 2000.  His “Serve” doesn’t end there either. Through the years of my mom’s battle with pancreatic cancer, He unselfishly stood strong in the storm that cancer often brings as he went to countless doctor appointments, chemotherapy treatments, and stood unwavering by her side until my mom’s battle ended in August of 2004.

So, when I look at what the definition of “Serve” is I look at my dad. He is a man who cares deeply for people with faithfulness and a smile.

Love you Dad!

Live for the Tomorrows!

Best wishes,

Shawn Nielsen
Mobile. 612.750.2593
Studio. 763.498.7375

A big thank you to Amy Wells for proofreading and editing this for me.

Serve #2

The opportunity to photograph Jessica came about when I went on a search to find organizations who had pro-bono photography needs.   Quickly my search led to The Phoenix Residence Inc. They were looking for photography for an upcoming brochure. I felt very moved to help create a set of images that they will be able to use to show what caring for fellow human beings looks like Phoenix Residence style. My contact at The Phoenix Residence. is Rachel K.  who I quickly learned had a heart for people as well and wanted to be able to create more awareness

I knew this opportunity was going to be #2 in my “Serve” series.

Serve #2

Serve #2

When Jessica (who works for the Phoenix Residence) said the words, “Everyone needs a friend.” and added, “I get to be Alice’s friend.” I was deeply moved.  Humanity is still good.  Sure we hear bad stuff from the media, but that is a mere slice of life out there.  I think we need to look at the whole of humanity and realize right in our backyards are people reaching out and making a difference in peoples lives.  People with the desire to “Serve”.

In closing, I put Jessica in the background a little bit, even slightly out of focus.  I did this to bring into focus the one who is being served, because she is the focus of Jessica’s “Serve”

Live for the Tomorrows!

Best wishes,

Shawn Nielsen
Mobile. 612.750.2593
Studio. 763.498.7375

Serve #1

This is the official, inaugural image, the launch of a new series. “Serve” will be a series about people across many stations in life, jobs, roles, races, and ages. Most of all I want my camera to take me out of my comfort zone once again, much like what my “15 Faces” series did. The road will once again create a hum in my ears, and the light that sets upon the subjects I photograph will tell a story that was started before I ever arrived. I desire to show that humanity still has a heart to serve.

Serve #1

Serve 1

Teri M. is a dear friend and the family pastor at NorthRidge Fellowship in Rogers, Minnesota. She has an electric smile and a pure heart for bringing the gospel alive for children and their families. She and Ben (her husband and lead Pastor) have been a key part of my family’s life over the past nine years. Teri serves with joy, with purpose, and with conviction. She has taught me what it is to serve, which is why I start this series with her smile.

I ask one thing of you, the viewer of this series, help me find those who serve. Let the bartenders, policeman, musicians, waitresses/waiters, mechanics, etc, come to the forefront of your mind. If you want to help write the story, sharpen your pencil, or prep your fingers and come on the journey with me.

Live for the Tomorrows!

Best wishes,

Shawn Nielsen
Mobile. 612.750.2593
Studio. 763.498.7375

A big “Thank You” to Gearbox Functional Creative Inc for designing the “Serve” template.

A little dirt.



Often I find myself photographing a doctor or executive, a stalk or two of corn, a product for a local company, heck even a cow.  Today my camera was pointed towards a backhoe in a neighboring farmers field.  Sure, it’s a far cry from the close-up of a persons face forged by age and war  (, but still worthy of a photograph or three.  It was even worth adding a little grit to the image and show the incredible texture that dirt, steel and great light combine to show off.


I still thoroughly love to create images.  Even simple, naturally lit ones!

I’m Here #5. -The final installment-

Mr. Jaeger lived through something very few of us can imagine; a Kamikaze attack on the ship he was stationed: 
USS St. Lo (CVE-63) on 25 October, 1944.  That day’s Kamikaze attack included six planes, which Robert’s ship was able to shoot down five (Robert was a gunner aboard his ship).  But it was the 6th that ultimately led to the sinking of the ship.  The battle toll was as followed:  889 men aboard, 113 were killed or missing, and approximately 30 others died of their wounds. 

As I was wrapping up my shoot of this man from “The Greatest Generation” I asked him the question, “Why are you here?”  To which he said, I am here because of the brave men he fought along side.”
Thank you Robert for your service, and for your willingness to lay down your life for your fellow man so many years ago.

Best wishes,
Shawn Nielsen
Mobile. 612.750.2593
Studio. 763.498.7375
            “Tell Your Story”              

I’m Here #4

I'm Here #4

Holly G. was very welcoming when I came to her home to do this photo.  I knew she had a determination that went beyond words.  She said through a few tears, that she never felt sorry for the hand she was dealt (breast cancer). Fighting the cancer was all she wanted to do.  The battle against cancer was for her friends (many who came to her treatments), her family, and for those yet to come (grandchildren).

The resolve cancer survivors, or those still in the battle show, is so inspiring to me.  I think each person is a warrior thrown in the midst of a battle, and they have no choice but to put up a valiant fight for the tomorrows.

I’m Here #3 (actually We’re Here)


The survivor in this entry is actally 2 survivors,  so I find myself modifying the title of the series for these precious liitle ones.  As I thought through all the different kinds of survivors there are, I came to the conclusion that sometimes a survivor is a valiant warrior, other times a cancer survivor, and then sometimes a survivor is  two tiny babies named Eve & Luke.  Eve and Luke were born 8 weeks early and spent quite a bit of time in the Special Care Nursery at Maple Grove Hospital in Maple Grove, MN.  They fought hard and are now at home in the loving arms of their parents, Scott and Sarah.

Best wishes,
Shawn Nielsen
Mobile. 612.750.2593
Studio. 763.498.7375
            “Tell Your Story”

I’m Here #2


Rita P.  is the subject of this blog post.  From the moment I met her, there was laughter in the air and a smile on her face.  It is that enduring quality that I captured in this photo.  I hope if I am faced with all the adversity that cancer brings, I will have a smile and laughter to share.

So smile big and laugh.  Someone in your world needs it!

Best wishes,
Shawn Nielsen
Mobile. 612.750.2593
Studio. 763.498.7375
            “Tell Your Story”              

I’m Here (#1)


This blog entry about Judd W. who served in the Airforce is the first in a series of five, but it may linger on as I hear the stories of people.  The idea is to photograph my subjects in a way that their face takes up much of the frame giving you the sense that you are seeing into the depth of who they are.  Maybe even getting a glimpse of what they have gone through.  My lighting will always be minimal, maybe just one or two lights.  There will be words on the photos that tell the story, and, occasionally, a bit of back story.  In the end, I want you to connect with the person, they have survived something, and I think that is a story worth telling. Don’t you?

Contrasting new & old.



Recently I had the opportunity to create the two images above for Glencoe Regional Health Services marketing materials.  These two above shots are amongst my favorites from the day long shoot.  If I dig deep into my reasoning for picking these, it is about contrast.  Contrasting a newborn and a  94 year old woman.  When I look at the baby with fresh skin, yet untouched by years of hard work, I know that there are many stories yet to be written.  In contrast, the deep creases and weather worn skin of years on the farm, reveal a reality that many stories have been lived and could be shared.  There is great beauty in the young and old, in the fresh and the worn,  and I am humbled to be given the privilege  to capture the contrast in photographs.

It is our turn as a generation to create stories to tell.  Go make some history!

Best wishes,
Shawn Nielsen
Mobile. 612.750.2593
Studio. 763.498.7375
            “Tell Your Story”   

My 15 Faces series comes to a close with this entry.  In all seriousness I am bummed.  It has been something that has pushed me as a commercial photographer, and as a person.  In some cases I have had to get to know a stranger at a very deep level in a short period of time, or share a deeper side of myself as it relates to a relationship with my friend and pastor.  So I combined a few things for this last post.  They are archery, photography, and a roadtrip with a friend who is like a brother to me.  Here enters Scott Whitman.  Scott is an accomplished marketing guy/account executive, co-owner of with me, and a person who loves people, and to tell a deeper story.

So the words that follow are his take on the day, the last installment, and whatever he saw fit to share:

I guess I didn’t know quite what to expect. Shawn and I drove up to Grand Rapids to meet Arne Moe, a retired Air National Guard wing commander and a Level 4 archery instructor. This guy was a pilot, a career military officer, and man with decades of experience as a teacher of traditional archery. He’s qualified to coach Olympic level archers. And he’s the most humble, unassuming and generous man you could hope to meet. Now retired, he devotes much of his time to coaching young archers, dispensing wisdom to anyone willing to listen and learn. 

Arne was eager to give us a tour of his house, and especially to show us his collection of traditional bows. He has long bows and recurves, factory models and hand-crafted bows. Some were made by renowned masters. A few he made himself. Some are well-known brand names. Others obscure vintage relics. In all, we guessed he had 40+ bows in his collection.

We expected we might spend some time reliving his 36-year military career, but Arne quickly summarized his experience in the Air Guard by saying, “I started flying fighters, and missed Viet Nam by a couple of years. I ended up flying air refueling tankers. The ones I flew were the last aircraft still in service that was designed with a slide rule.” Arne finished his career as a full Colonel and a wing commander. 

But the thing Arne most wanted to talk about was the art of traditional archery. That was fine with us. We brought our own bows and were anxious to get a few tips from this master of the craft. We did not bargain for a full coaching session at the local archery club. He spent nearly 4 hours with us, sharing wisdom, instructing, teaching, and revealing the art and science of shooting a bow the way it really should be done. When he talks about shooting a bow his eyes light up. “There is something truly magical about the flight of an arrow,” he said.

When Arne talks about shooting form, he sounds like a combination of sports psychologist, engineer and martial arts Sinsei. He speaks of bio-mechanics and leverage, aligning the bones of hand, wrist, arm and shoulder to balance the force of the drawn bow. He demonstrates how good balance and body alignment allow an archer to draw and hold a heavy bow with little muscle exertion. His drawing motion is consistent, fluid and appears almost effortless. His arrows fly true. Arne makes archery an art form, but like all good teachers, he makes it simple enough that anyone can learn.

We asked him why he did it – giving so much of his time. He said it was his love of the sport, and a desire to teach others – especially kids – something that has been a big part of his life. He said, “In archery there are no bench-sitters. Everyone gets to play. And everyone can succeed. To see a kid’s smile when he makes his first shot or when she makes a personal best, it’s really something special.”

Arne Moe is a special breed. Like his custom bows, he’s one of a kind.

15 Faces #14 – Pastor & Friend

15 Faces #14

Pastor Ben McEachern is the 14th installment of 15 Faces.  He is my pastor.  He is the pastor of NorthRidge Fellowship, the church that I call my home church.  I think more than just calling him my Pastor, I call him my friend.  Ben has been a person that has been there when I had a hurting heart due to the pains of losing my mom to cancer (and stuffing those feelings), and helped me navigate through other tough stuff in life.  He cried with me, put his arm on my shoulder, and prayed with me.  He was just there.  He didn’t care about my bumps or bruises, he just knew I needed a hug.  So I guess this installment has a little more personal ring to it than the others.  It is a little about me and the impact this man has had on my life, and the life of my family.

So here is a little background on Ben.

Ben is married to Teri, and he is absolutely head over heals in love with her.  He has 4 kids and one grandchild.  In his free time he is an avid sailor.

While I did these shots I had one hand on the mast of his sailboat, to provide leverage for him while he worked on a few parts in need of repair, and the other to press the shutter release.  The sailboat provides a time for him to take a deep breath, recharge.  His life is not as easy as some may think. He pours into the lives of many people at all different levels of need, whether spiritual, emotional, or physical.  He knows this is the call that God put on his life many years ago.  Pastor Ben is the kind of man whose hands are rough from the times where he has helped another in need (he has nailed a few shingles in the calm right after a storm).  You will probably see a tear on his cheek as he has cried with someone who just lost a loved one.  He just loves you where you’re at, and for who you are.

During our time Pastor Ben asked me what I have gained from my 15 Faces series.  I didn’t have to dig too deep to know I have gained a greater glimpse of humanity.  I have been able to see the complexity in a person, the trials that people have gone through, perceptions and mis-perceptions of how people are viewed, that people truly care for you, and they will be there for you.  I have also been pushed well beyond my normal crisp, clean, commercial photography world and into a story telling world.  I have been pushed to see there is beauty in the hearts of people, beauty that will not show on the surface like a Cosmopolitan or People magazine want you to believe.  Oddly enough that beauty is in the strength of a man’s hands that fought for his country, in  the prayers of a couple for their community, and the bread made within the walls of a bakery or the story behind it.

So Ben, I guess I love people a little more deeply! 

15 Faces #13 – A daughter’s perspective.

Please give the video a few seconds to load

This morning, I had the chance to get up before the sun and go with my dad on an adventure. We made our way to Elk River, he talking about how he wanted to created this thirteenth installment for 15 Faces and as for me, I was trying to stay awake. But as we walked down the stairs and into the midst of the creation of artisan bread, I was no longer wishing I was still in my bed. The smells that filled the air, the yeast, the cinnamon rolls baking in the oven, it was invigorating. This is the story:

Long before the sun has even decided to get up, Garrett Jordahl is baking bread. It is his passion. His art. I was in the presence of an artist; a bread artist. Mr. Jordahl has been baking bread since he graduated from high school. He loves it. He does it, not for the profits, but for the quality, for the beauty of it. Eight years ago, he bought a dying bakery in Elk River, Minnesota. Now, he owns a thriving business, Diamond City Bread. As my dad spoke with him, continually asking question to keep the conversation going, Mr. Jordahl continued to prepare his bread, as if by instinct. The motions are automatic: frosting cinnamon rolls, buttering croissants, shaping scones; it is all second nature. As he speaks, Mr. Jordahl often mentions Frank. A man who has no last name but an enormous impact on this business, and especially it’s owner. Frank encouraged Mr. Jordahl to buy the dying bakery. He owns the pizzeria above, and that provides a lot of business for Diamond City. Mr. Jordahl’s credentials? A two week bread-baking course at Dunwoody Institute and a driving passion to create artisan bread for a small town. There are two employees who work here for the pre-light shift. Only two. And as we watched them work, it was evident that they are artists just as much as their employer. They, too have been here for years. This business seems to draw people in, and when they are there, they simply can’t leave. The atmosphere, the art, the people; when you walk down the stairs and into the business, it is impossible to leave without taking with you one of their beautifully created loaves, their masterpieces. This is a family. Diamond City Bread does not bake to make money, that is not its mission. This fantastic bread does do some traveling; many whole foods co-ops stock it, but they bake bread for the love of it. To serve those who want quality. And there certainly is quality created here. You can feel it when you walk in, you can hear it when Mr. Jordahl speaks, you can see it in his hands. Just as much as a painter creates a masterpiece or and writer creates a best seller, Mr. Jordahl and his employees create masterpieces in each and every loaf of bread made. This is an art just a beautiful as any other.

Anna Rose Nielsen

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