Capturing the blast-off [UPDATED]Published 11:21am Friday, April 26, 2013 Updated 1:33pm Friday, April 26, 2013
As a freelance photographer, he’s taken shots of subjects around the world. This May, he’ll be taking his passion even farther.
Dan Broten will travel to Russia to photograph Vining native Karen Nyberg has she launches to the International Space Station for a six-month stay. Broten made three trips to Kennedy Space Center for Nyberg’s first launch and landing with the shuttle Discovery in 2008.
With the end of the manned shuttle program in the U.S., Broten said he has captured history with every snap.
“There’s something about being a photographer and catching a moment in time,” Broten said. “What I really enjoy doing is documenting reality.”
Broten is a Chicago native who moved his residence to Minnesota just over a year ago. His connection with rural Otter Tail County, however, goes back to childhood.
“I watched the moon landing laying on the living room floor at nine years old,” Broten said of the farm house he lives in just outside of Henning. “Coming up from Chicago, I used to ask my mom why there were so many more stars in Minnesota.”
Originally owned by his grandparents, the house was owned outside of the family for a brief period of time until it was repurchased in 1998. That was when he first met local artist Ken Nyberg and his daughter.
After developing a friendship with the family, the invitation to shoot Karen’s previous launch brought together Broten’s fascination with space exploration and his life in photography. Born in 1960, he grew up with the country’s space program and watched as the world reached beyond the known limits of the Earth.
“I’ve always been kind of a space nerd,” Broten said. “And I was the kind of kid who always had a camera around his neck.”
When Karen found out she would be heading back up to the station with a rocket from Russia this May, she gave Broten a pass to attend the launch. Of course, he will be bringing his equipment along again.
While he makes his living shooting for corporations at a studio in Chicago, Broten said having another chance at a front row seat for such a major event was too good to pass up. He will pay for the trip on his own and won’t be employed for the photographs, but promoting the international program and this area’s contribution has become another aspect of his lifelong dedication to photography.
“I really am pushing to remind people that this is going on,” Broten said. “Every 90 minutes this thing is circling the Earth. I think it’s become kind of commonplace and people don’t really realize it. It’s an incredible engineering feat.”
But even with all the excitement surrounding the launch on May 28, Broten’s main instinct as a photographer – to capture lasting memories – is guiding his preparation as he gets ready for another rare opportunity.
“Just knowing that someday Karen might have these photos on her refrigerator, and that her son can see them ,” Broten said. “If you walk into someone’s house and they still have a photo of yours on the wall, that’s how you know you’ve made it.”