Payne: Tallgrass book a couples’ labor of love

Robert Smith
The cover of “Visions of the Tallgrass: Prairie Photographs by Harvey Payne.”

Noted wildlife photographer Harvey Payne explains the new book, that has his name and that of James P. Ronda on it, is really a labor of love that drew on the expertise of their wives as much as it did on theirs.

Payne commented in a recent interview that Leisa Payne’s eagle-sharp eyes and fertile mind were crucial to the photographic enterprise that helped produce “Visions of the Tallgrass: Prairie Photographs by Harvey Payne.” Additionally, Jeanne Ronda wrote all the photo captions for the 119 images that made it into the book.

Published by the University of Oklahoma Press, the volume is on sale right now at the Osage County Historical Society Museum, where a book signing is scheduled from 4-6 p.m. Friday.

Harvey Payne said he, his wife, James Ronda and Jeanne Ronda all plan to attend the book signing Friday at the Historical Society Museum on Lynn Avenue in Pawhuska.

“To get the images took the better part of four years,” Harvey Payne said. “We had enough material to do five books, frankly.”

Payne recalled the OU Press initially planned to include perhaps 90-100 photos in the book, but eventually settled on 119. The process of selecting exactly the right photos began with some 1,000 usable images and continued until 157 images were submitted. The OU Press narrowed it down from there.

Payne said he was very appreciative of the opportunity to work with James Ronda, a retired University of Tulsa history professor who has published numerous works on aspects of the American West. Payne said he suggested Ronda’s name to the OU Press as a collaborator and the Press immediately endorsed the choice.

“He’s the most captivating speaker I’ve ever heard,” Payne said of Ronda.