Paradise Valley, Montana - 2023
56” x 85” Unframed 71” x 100” Framed Edition of 12
37” x 56” Unframed 52” x 71” Framed Edition of 12
This is one hell of a saloon. Nicolas Cage recently held court here in
a scene from the 2023 movie The Old Way. I was visually drawn to the two-tiered structure and the staircase connecting one to the other and I knew it could offer another layer in which to tell a story of life in a wild west bar.
I don’t think I am saying anything original when I say that focus is the key word in the vernacular of photography. Focus should deliberately include or it should deliberately exclude . When working in minimal light conditions like this old saloon, the starting premise is to know that 90% of the frame will be out of focus and to be excited rather than worried about it. It is an advantage not a disadvantage.
I think this photograph is made by the very limited depth of field not hampered by it. The cowboys in the back are pivotal to the story, but they can have anonymity as they are contextual. Meanwhile the girls and the wolf must be sharp as they lead
the story. That was the hard bit, as the wolf has a spring in his step.
The two saloon girls were directed to have a look of menace and that’s exactly what they gave me. It’s difficult to play that look and keep your femininity and hats off to Brooks Nader and Holly Graves. All 20 people in the saloon did great and that’s what makes the frame sweat.
~ David Yarrow