Almost every photographer has a dream to one day publish their own book and have it feature images they've captured of an incredible subject. For me, I don't just want to create a book I want to use this as a chance to raise funds and awareness for children’s charities in the UK and USA. "Cowboy Up" is going to capture the spirit of the American Cowboy from ranch to rodeo in every way.
In my first experience working with the cowboys, I found a huge part of their spirit is all about giving back. I've met some of the biggest hearts riding the most amazing animals. it's such a logical connection to use the cowboy story to help generate additional funds and recognition for deserving causes.
Why Cowboy Up
The Oxford English Dictionary defines the phrase Cowboy Up as: "Make a determined effort to overcome an obstacle or deal with a difficult situation".
Whilst just two words this phrase defines the Cowboy code: Whatever life throws at you get the job done; don't whine and complain; don't blame others; take responsibility and always do the best you can.
As a photographer I have a passion for documentary work approaching both weddings and sport in that way. I have also developed a fascination with the Rodeo Cowboy way of life. For this project I am going to combine these two passions into one. There is nothing more exciting than being at a rodeo, watching and being around these incredibly talented yet down to earth athletes.
The Rodeo Cowboys and Cowgirls epitomize the expression Cowboy Up and provide an incredibly rich opportunity for a photographer. My aim with the book is to document the lifestyle from ranch to rodeo covering the build up, behind the scenes and the action. The book will show a gritty, tough world full of incredible characters documenting the warmth, humour and determination of those living this lifestyle.
Once the project is complete and the final book is available to purchase a fair percentage of any sales will be donated to worthy children’s charities in the UK and USA. (More specific information coming over the next few weeks.) Many children are dealt a tough hand and don’t get the opportunities that others take for granted. There are charities on both sides of the Atlantic that grant these disadvantaged children their wishes making their dreams come true.
As a father I am blessed with three healthy happy children but I have always been conscious that others aren’t quite as lucky. A big part of my life revolves around giving back or paying it forward but on a small scale. This project is part of my dream to give back on a much bigger level.
All of the photographs will be presented in a Black and White fine art style. Whilst the book will provide the images as a collection of photographs each and every one will be able to stand on it’s own.
The book itself will be available in three editions a limited edition version (50 copies only); a standard hardback edition and a soft cover edition. Also photographs from the book will be made available as limited edition prints. For people that back the project with a pledge of £80 or more they will get a credit in the book as thank you for making the project possible. All other backers will get a personal email from me expressing my thanks.
The foreword to the book will be written by my friend Skip Cohen who spent 18 years at Polaroid; formerly President of Hassleblad USA and has co-authored many photography books. Skip is currently President of Marketing Essentials and running Skip Cohen University. In the photography world Skip needs no introduction and has links into the Rodeo community when he set up a Rodeo team during his time at Polaroid. That team included Rodeo legends such as Tuff Hedeman and Rod Lyman.
Having spent some time in the US, most recently in Dallas for The American Rodeo, my resolve to get this project done has increased. I was fortunate enough to get a press pass for the event and capture the photographs used to promote this project. During the time at the Rodeo I met many great Cowboys and Cowgirls some of those will be helping me once the project gets underway.
To capture the photographs for the book I plan to spend time in the US with real Cowboys on working ranches and at rodeos. These will be captured over a number of weeks, I will upload a few pictures as I go along on my blog and via updates on Kickstarter. Once I return to the UK I will select the photographs that will appear in the book and process them accordingly. The book will then be submitted for review and finally printing.
Thank you for looking at my project, if you like what you see and want to help me achieve this goal I'd appreciate you backing the project.
All photographs presented here have been taken by me and are subject to copyright.
Risks and challenges
With any project of this nature there are a number of challenges. The first challenge is the logistical where, when, who and what. The next few months will be spent researching this aspect of the project using contacts already made in the right locations.
The second challenge is once there becoming quickly accepted by the community making sure they are comfortable being photographed. This aspect probably comes more naturally to me as I have photographed many different types of people in all sorts of situations. I am fortunate in the fact that I have the ability to put people at ease and quickly get to the point where the camera and technology are out of the way and accepted. Once that point has been reached it is simply a case of going about my work to capture people as naturally as possible.
The final aspect of the project will be editing and production of the book itself. This will be done once back home in the UK and from there rewards will be sent once complete.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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