Bemidji man’s photograph finally ends up on 40 million postage stamps – Twin Cities
BEMIDJI, Minn. – Ed Espe doesn’t claim to be a great photographer, but he’s pretty good.
Good enough that one of his pictures is in the latest U.S. Postal Service stamp book.
Espe, a 68-year-old retired podiatrist, didn’t have to go far to get the photo. He noticed a blue jay sitting on a branch in front of his house on Irving Lake.
“It was right outside our door,” said Aspen. “We’ve enjoyed feeding birds over the years since I retired, so we have some birdhouses out there. And of course the blue jays cannot eat from the bird feeders. But I think they made an arrangement with the smaller birds – the chickadees and the nuthatch – to shed a bunch. So they land on the snow and eat it. “
This particular blue jay landed in a tree. “I thought this would work.” Focus, shoot, there it is, ”said Espe.
When the Postal Service released its winter scenes in October, the Bemidji Blue Jay was included. Ten different stamps are on a double-sided disk of 20 in each book, and 400 million stamps have been printed.
This is Espe’s original photo of the Blue Jay, taken in January 2018. Three years later, it’s on 40 million US postage stamps. (Photo submitted)
“I haven’t heard from the post office yet,” said Espe. “My wife went to the post office and bought a few books. I am very honored just to be selected. For me it’s not a really great photo. It’s not technically great. I was just in the right place at the right time. “
Espe has been photographing in Roseau since his youth, but since his retirement he has been focusing more on the hobby since 2014.
“I can’t remember when I got my first camera,” he said. “I think it was probably one of those Instamatic cameras back in the 1960s. I only took snapshots of birthdays and family outings. “
During the first eight years of his podiatry practice in Owatonna, Espe took a community education course on photography. But he didn’t take the hobby too seriously until he finished the last 25 years of his career in Bemidji.
“I’ve never claimed to be a good photographer and I still don’t,” he said. “But it’s interesting and I still like it. When I retired I thought, ‘You know, I should probably be working on this as it’s an interest and I’ve been enjoying photography for years.’ “
Aspen is always on the lookout for things to shoot. He and his wife Char love to travel and appreciate their patience and support for his hobby.
“To me, it’s all that’s interesting,” he said. “Occasionally I say it’s a beautiful day and I know the state flower is in bloom. I go to a place that is likely to have some nice womens shoes and take some pictures. But normally we’re more on the road, driving, and I see something and say, “Is it okay if I stop?” And my wife was wonderful about it. I’ll pause for a few minutes and snap a picture of something she’s not interested in. It’s more random than anything else. Whatever I notice, I’ll take a picture. “
He began uploading images to stock photo sites like Shutterstock where they would be available for purchase.
“I thought someone else could review my work that way,” said Espe, “because they won’t accept everything.” And they’re not as strict in their reviews as an art museum. I’m certainly not claiming to be an artist, but I thought at least someone would take a look and tell me if this is good enough to actually be used for a purpose. “
Shortly after the first photos were uploaded, Espe saw that some of them were “selling for about a quarter. My wife and I looked at it and said, “You have a quarter for a picture. Imagine.’ So I just kept going. “
Espe has also posted a number of video clips on Shutterstock. Just like the uploaded photos, he rarely knows who is buying the videos and what they will be used for. But he was surprised to see one of his clips when he was watching an episode of the American Pickers TV show. It was a short video of a farm scene near Grygla.
“I just hope to finance my hobby myself,” said Espe. “Every now and then you need a new lens, and a camera probably wears out and you need to replace it. So I hope maybe it’s good enough to do that, who knows? “