Ernie Taylor – The Secret of Life
An Uplifting Story and Video
In early 2013, my now wife and I were cruising around Zionsville, Indiana looking for a potential wedding venue. With the help of a close family friend, we found an amazing private residence in Westfield, where we would be married in a large field adjacent to a beautiful barn. In our travels around the area, we passed a rather unique place that I thought would be an incredible location for our bridal party photos.
From the road, it was hard to tell if it was some sort of art installation or perhaps a museum or a vintage market, either way, we had to find out more about this incredible spot.
We pulled up the drive and we were greeted by a small dog. There was a little white house behind a chain-link fence that looked like something out of a storybook. It was a quaint home next to a large working shed with a classic pristine Model A Roadster parked outside. There were large metal sculptures, old farm equipment, trinkets and signs with inspirational or witty phrases written on them.
We still weren’t quite sure who we would meet when we knocked on the door, but we mustered up some courage and knocked. A few seconds later a cute old couple came to the door. We introduced ourselves and said we were passing by and saw all the incredible sculptures on your property and we were wondering if we could walk around to have a closer look at them.
Their names were Dottie and Ernie Taylor and they were delighted to have us stop by. They gave us a tour around the property and told us stories of all the incredible pieces, including some very large metallic dinosaurs.
After some time, I mentioned we were getting married up the road that fall, and we were curious if we could come here to shoot photos with our wedding party. I think they were both a little shocked that we wanted to come to take photos in their yard but they were clearly excited about the idea.
Fast forward a number of months and we showed up in a giant school bus with twenty of our closest family and friends. We spent over an hour playing on the property and shooting some incredibly fun and unique photos. Our wedding photographer, Jessica Strickland and her assistant Erika were in love with the unique ways they could photograph us and they both did an incredible job capturing the essence of the location.
Why do I share this story?
Well, it was photography that paved the way for my wife and me to meet this incredible couple, who at the time, had been married for nearly 60 years. We took photos with them in our wedding attire and Ernie told stories to my groomsmen. It was more than simply a location to stop and take photos it was an experience that could not be replicated. It also bonded us with a couple in a very special way.
On our first anniversary, we revisited the Dottie and Ernie and brought them a framed photo of us together from our wedding day. They were elated by the sentiment. We sat in their tiny kitchen, which was lined with little knick-knacks and old photos. Ernie played his banjo and sang us a couple of songs. It was a moment where time seemed to pause and my wife and I just sat there and took it all in.
We visited again when our first son was born and it was after that visit that I decided I wanted to tell the story of this couple. I really wanted to ask them what the secret to life was.
Unfortunately, before I could get back we learned that Dottie had passed away. This was incredibly sad news but it also inspired me to get my act together and to visit Ernie and chat with him on video. On September 13, 2019 I did just that. My friend Taylor and I visited Ernie and set up a small light and a microphone in the same kitchen where he and his wife chatted with us years prior. I asked him some questions about his family, his work and his art. At 91 years old, he is sharp as a tack and told a few stories of his youth and his art. He even played a song.
The moral of this story is for you to just go create. Time passes quickly and we don’t get a redo. If you find yourself wanting to start a creative project, or perhaps just wanting to reconnect with an old family member, I encourage you to get started or to just make that call. We are currently living in unprecedented times and I have personally learned not to take anything for granted.
I hope you enjoyed this story.
After studying broadcast journalism at Illinois State University, I began my career in Central Illinois creating commercials and on-air promotions for local television affiliates. From 2008 to 2012, I worked for The Marketing Store where I created content for clients such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Southern Comfort. From there, I worked for Maddock Douglas, an innovation consulting firm, developing an internal photo/video offering. I left Maddock Douglas to be a creative director at FÁS Chicago, where I worked primarily for Case Construction. In 2017, I relocated to Indianapolis with my wife and two sons and I have started Michael Durr Photo/Video, LLC. Currently, I work in partnership with Kevin Raber and PhotoPXL, creating video content on all things photography. In addition I work on other freelance projects primarily around the midwest. Throughout my career, talented friends and great mentors have surrounded me. I have been fortunate to wake up every day never feeling like I was going to work. The combination of my professional experience, personality and drive to improve has given me a unique perspective from behind the lens. It is a combination of work and life that inspires me.