21 June 2008

What do cowboys and photographers have in common? Cajones!!

Balls. Huevos. Cajones!!! Call them what you will but you got to have something akin to those gonads that give you the drive to do what you do. Balls are everywhere and I had to laugh and see for myself what kind of ball this other photographer Peter Yang actually had; There is was like a big oversized eye ball in his mouth; The money shot. What we do for a photograph....
I had never seen this part of ranch work; and I wondered what it would be like; what would my shot be? and how do I get it ?It's a wrestling match between men and animals. The irons are cooking, and the Vaqueros are dividing the cattle; the knife is sharpened, and the work begins; Strong men take down the calves and hold their legs and assess their sex; EMBRA!! MACHO!!
Female.Male!! The braying cattle, the smell of singed hair and flesh; the heat of the day coming on,dust rises and covers everything-we are all in the dirt, sweating from the heat; A little less than a hundred head of cattle for day one. Less than 40 the next day. There's a small quick cut above the scrotum, then the hand squeezes the pale flesh out through the open wound, and then pop! The dogs nip at the heels and steal the balls and are stacked on the fence; I feel proud of my picture of a mountain of balls on the fence.We'll have them for Sunday dinner. Makes one glad to be a photographer and not a calf.

How do we approach the classic, tried and true stories? What do we bring to the table to make a shot different? Stand out and tell the story? and what's even more amazing to me are the stories behind the story to getting the story......I so appreciate another's perspective; I learn so much and there is GREAT work out there. I look at the work of other photographers. Each has there perspective. I wonder do they ask the guys to dress up? or is it just the way it is. I notice ball caps with American logos taking the place of cowboy hats-I would rather have the line of a cowboy hat to fill my frame even if I curse the dark shadows under the brim...I fight for the eyes or try to make the darkness work. I work alone and can't imagine trying to light all of these places with a bank of lights....some times I wish I had a lovely assistant to help; so it's interesting to go at it alone. The boys are respectful and would treat me as a woman and have me sit up front; but I ask to ride in the back so I might see something different. I feel the wind, the dirt, and the smell of worn leather and the dogs; the Mexican radio, the silhouettes of Father and sons riding out and coming home.

National Geographic :Robb Kendrick: Beautiful portraits of Cowboy Culture
Robb Kendrick:The website
Adam Jahiel:Another GREAT photographer whose work I admire.

I have been learning a lot about my world through the blogs of others; and also am inspired to follow lines of work through the discourse on the web; This one was especially insightful and I was stoked that a magazine actually hired photographer Peter Yang for a sixteen day assignment. Someday I hope I can do work for TEXAS MONTHLY;The interview and the slideshow links are GREAT to learn what does go into the creativity and work.

SLIDESHOW: Peter Yang's photos for Texas Monthly
A PHOTOEDITOR: interview with Peter Yang

I sometimes wonder as I'm editing gigs upon gigs of images WHAT am I doing???? WHAT am I going to do with all these images?? WHO will be interested in them?? HOW do I keep on supporting my dream and work??? As I get deeper and deeper into the DOIng of the work the debt grows larger, and the proverbial question of work for money and to balance all of it looms at times in my mind....I am grateful for all I have experienced and somehow through the graciousness of family and supportive friends who believe in this work I have been able to continue to DO It....but sometimes I falter and wonder if a job at Walmart isn't around the corner as I try to figure out how to pay for the gas, the insurance, the bills....Maybe take a clue from my Mexican Photographer friends who go hawk prints at $3, $5 to the crowd. Are there people interested in my shots of balls??

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