Former MCTC student and current Photography and Digital Imaging suite attendant Marilyn Indahl caught the breathtaking photos of Stefon Diggs’s remarkable game-winning touchdown that almost every Minnesotan still can’t get over.
“I was in the end-zone as Diggs made that touchdown, it was a 61-yard catch and run,” Indahl said. “There were very few people in the end-zone- it was very cool!”
Indahl does photography for USA Today Sports Images, as well as a small magazine based in Minneapolis called Minnesota Score.
“I like working with Minnesota Score because if the Vikings ever made it to the Superbowl, I could get in as a photographer with the magazine,” Indahl said. “When you shoot for bigger companies, they tend to overlook their local people in favor of their main photographers that they’re willing to fly around the country.”
The journey between her beginnings as a photographer to her shots of Diggs began in the late 1990s. Since 1997, Indahl has been taking photography “seriously” rather than as a hobby.
“My dad was an amateur photographer. I remember that in my younger years,” Indahl said. Her father passed away when she was eleven, “but I’d always had an interest. I always took pictures. My older sister got us all little point-and-shoots.”
At the time she worked at a bank, and one day Indahl looked around at all of the cubicles and realized she couldn’t stay there.
“I saw the catalog come in the mail and I started looking at stuff like ‘well what do I want to do?’ So I just took John Johnston’s Photo 1 class,” Indahl said.
After taking his class, she knew she’d found something good.
“I said ‘John, I have to find a way to work in this. This just fits me,'” she said.
Johnston directed Indahl to the Media Production program, which is now the Photography and Digital Imaging program.
Finding a balance between her then-current job at the bank and her newfound passion for photography, Indahl worked at the reception desk for a year and afterwards came to MCTC full time.
From 1998 to 2000, Indahl finished the Media Production program. In the fall of 2000, the position to work in the now-PHDI suite became available. Indahl took it.
“I still thought that I would only be here for two to five years and then I would be in a studio somewhere,” she said. “Then I found out we had City College News!”
Still a part-time student, Indahl began photographing for CCN in the early 2000s.
“When I got there, one of the writers was really into sports, and we had a really good basketball team at the time. Really good,” she said. “So I started photographing them.”
She realized that she really enjoyed the movement of sports photography, and the uncertainty that came with the amount of split-second thinking that accompanied it.
“I felt more of a challenge that way,” Indahl said.
One of the players went to the U of M, and Indahl called over to secure credentials to cover him for CCN.
“They said that would be fine, so I went in and the first game I covered he wasn’t on the floor very much,” she said. “So I went back to another game, and he did better in that one.”
At both games, Indahl met a person named Tom Dahlin, who introduced her to Minnesota Score, a local sports magazine based in Robbinsdale, Minn.
“I started talking with him, and he introduced me [to the magazine] and they were kinda just getting off their feet,” Indahl said. “I talked to Wally [Langfield, Executive Editor] and he said they could use me for some things. So then I started covering things for Wally.”
Indahl also worked for Pioneer Press in their digital lab editing photos. While there, one of their photographers was out due to a health issue, so they used her as what they call a “stringer,” doing freelance work by covering high school sports. At this point, Indahl was working for CCN, Minnesota Score and Pioneer Press, as well as working in the PHDI suite full-time.
“I then got this idea in my head that even though I worked for CCN, I wondered if I couldn’t also find my way into covering some bigger sports teams,” Indahl said. “So I called the Minnesota Wild and spoke with a very kind woman who said ‘sure, we can do that’. So I connected with the writer [at CCN] and he was ecstatic. He attended games up in the press box and I attended them near the glass. We covered our first season of 2003, and they got into the play-offs.”
Indahl describes that year as “really magical” saying that “it was the furthest they’d gotten in play-offs since then. They actually got far enough that they had to cut me out because there would be too much national coverage and there wouldn’t be enough space.”
It is a frequent thing to hear of people speaking of careers they want but won’t pursue because the job they work is steady, with a reliable income; not to mention the aspects of life that can render people reluctant to changes. Indahl did what many of us only speak of: she took a risk and followed her heart. Just a few short years later, she finds herself mere feet from Diggs as he makes the his legendary touchdown.
Indahl also comes full circle in a bloodline she only recently learned the extent of. Learning that she had a great-aunt with a photography studio in Chicago “made it complete” she mused.
“I always knew my father had an interest in it [photography] but I didn’t know how much,” Indahl said. “My mother recently gave me an article of my dad that was written by his school, Macalester. It talks about how much he enjoys sports photography- I’m a sports photographer! I then knew I was my father’s daughter. I was in tears. I thought ‘this is why I am the way I am.'”
“When I took this job, I did it partly because my dad was a trucker- he never went into photography. I don’t know if he really ever wanted to necessarily. He had two children, then three children so maybe that’s why he never left a steady job, so I’m carrying the torch a little bit. When I took this job, and it was risky, I was saying ‘I’m doing this for me and for you, dad,'” she thoughtfully ends.