This short photo essay documents two American cowboys. Shot over a two-hour time frame on an overcast and drizzly morning on June, 2, 2015.
I was invited to visit my cousin, Robert Vargas, to a small ranch where he works. I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to diversify my portfolio of photography as I seldom photograph animals. I really didn’t know what to expect but this ‘City Boy’ was up for the challenge.
The air in rural Eastern Washington is cold and fresh. It’s an overcast and wet morning, mostly drizzle with the occasional heavy downpour. It’s the type of morning perfect for staying inside and reading a book near the window. I love to chill on these types of days, the sights, sounds and smells of a rainy day have always put me in a good mood. However, I wasn’t reading or ‘chilling’ that day. I was on a photo expedition on a less than ideal day for shooting. I grabbed by gear anyway. Despite the weather conditions, it was a beautiful day for shooting.
I headed out of town and drove for about twenty minutes where I finally reached the lonely highway that winds up a narrow valley. It would be another 15 minutes until I reach the ranch from this point. Halfway up the hill, I decide to pull over and take in the environment. It’s quiet; real quiet, with the exception the sounds of rustling grass, droplets of rain and chirping birds. Ahhh, there is nothing like being out here. Nowhere. Off the beaten path. I could have stayed here for hours, but it was getting late and I hadn’t reached my destination yet.
As I near the top of the hillside my attention is drawn to a ranch that sits down off of the highway on a field with very healthy green grass. The ranch is small but very active with the movement of different types of animals, the ones you’d expect to see on a farm: chicken, horses, cows and sheep. Although the animals are very different they seem to have a symbiotic relationship with each other. Each has a duty, each plays a role. I can see a Robert and Alan (Cowboys) expertly hurdling calfs through a maze of metal fences until they’re corralled into a larger area. Today, the calfs are being tagged. The cowboys give me permission to photograph them as they work. One by one, the calfs are given IDs, now official property of the ranch.
As I capture scene after scene I notice the cowboys are not phased by my presence. The scene was not staged in any way and the images came out very natural. They were pros. They were determined to finish quickly and not waste time as much work had yet to be done on the ranch. Such is the Cowboy Way.