“If you want to cut your own throat, don’t come to me for a bandage.’~M Thatcher
I have made some observations and generalities about the cowboy culture in my short time interacting with the people while shooting (and talking) to them. The biggest thing I have noticed is that they all seem gracious, open and modest. I’ll stand by the sidelines and have someone tip his hat or nod and smile while riding by. And I always try to do the same with any person that I photograph; a smile and an acknowledgement goes a long way.
When I do get the opportunity to actually have a conversation with a wrangler, ranch hand or rancher, they usually tell me an interesting story or tidbit. The last one I spoke with told me all about his Dad, who was also a cowboy, who had been considered for the Marlboro Man ads and the photographer who did his proofs. When I asked him to tilt his head because of the heavy shadow on his face, he said to me, “Yes, it’s all about the light” and I smiled. It’s mostly about the light but certainly not all. One of my favorite photography quotes is “Emotionally full and technically imperfect trumps technically perfect and emotionally vacant every time.”-V Versace. So, great light is good but provoking emotion through an image is great.
I have the absolute worst memory for names and I need to write them down to remember (same thing with the cars I shoot) as there are times when I would love to have a name and way to contact the person just to maybe re-photograph him or her under better conditions. And get more of their story. Really, isn’t that what photography is really about:telling a story about a person, place or thing? In some ways, the more you know about a person, the better able you are to portray their essence. And then sometimes, all you need to know is nothing but that he has a bandaged finger. It’s a subtle thing but it also says a lot.