Durango, Colorado ~ February 2023
Large 63" x 56" Unframed; 78" x 71" Framed; Edition of 12
Standard 42" x 37" Unframed; 57" x 52" Framed; Edition of 12
In the mountains of America, my experience is that the really cold conditions tend to be on cloudless days first thing in the morning, particularly at sunrise when the temperature briefly dips. Operating when it is frigid is a real examination, not just of one’s hunger to get the shot but one’s fluency with the camera. Handwarmers are such a wonderful invention.
This morning, up on the Durango & Silverton narrow gauge railroad, was one such occasion. The storm had cleared and was replaced by a cloudless sky and frigid temperatures. At sunrise we were down to around -15°F or -26°C and these conditions offered so much potential for the filmmaker as everything froze - from human beards and human breath to horse breath.
I am always nervous of boring people and anything in a picture that defies gravity tends to work for me as it adds energy and dynamism. The props I had that morning gave every chance to fully embrace this modus operandi - especially if my camera was pointed directly either side of the rising sun.
My cowboy - who is a dead ringer for Rip from the Yellowstone Series - is a charming Texan called Cole Nallion rather than Cole Hauser who plays Rip Wheeler. Cole worked as a cowboy extra and handler in another Taylor Sheridan series - 1883 - and it is easy to see why he and Sam Elliott got along.
This one split second image caught my notice straight away as there is an anonymity to his face. We don’t need to see his eyes, because this is not a story about him per se, it is a story about the loosely governed wild west, where cowboys like him often made a living from doing shady things. He is playing to a genre before he is playing himself.
The photograph has a Red Dead Redemption feel to it and the bigger it is printed the more powerful the emotion it elicits. It’s a bad ass moment. ~ David Yarrow