Q What motivated you to start Shooting the West, an annual photography event in Winnemucca?
A My friend Sheri Allen went to an early Oasis conference [sponsored by the Nevada Department of CAultural Affairs] where they encouraged small communities to bring art to their town, and I had just been to one of the early National Cowboy Poetry Gatherings in Elko. We thought photography would be a good idea to bring to our community and approached the local authorities. They agreed and backed us, and still do.
Q What is the event all about?
A The 20th anniversary of Shooting the West will be March 6-9. Everyone can register for a reasonable fee. With that registration they have the chance to bring two of their framed photos to enter in one of the largest photography exhibits in the country, and they also have the chance of winning the favor of one of our prominent invited photographers. This event is the perfect place for registrants to mingle with world-renowned photographers, as only a small town can provide.
Q When and how did you get involved in photography?
A My sons were in high school rodeo, and I was just beginning to learn photography. My oldest son, Tim, won a buckle, and Nevada Governor Mike O’Callaghan [1971-79] presented it to him. From that time on, for at least 11 years, I was the official high school rodeo photographer of Nevada.
Q What is most important when it comes to the content of your photos?
A That I connect with my subject somehow.
Q What are some of the challenges you face as a photographer?
A Moving from the film world to the ever-changing digital world.
Q What is it about the state that inspires you to photograph it?
A The quiet beauty and the wonderful light.
Q In Fifty Miles From Home your ranching photographs show a way of life that is quickly disappearing. Why is it important to share it with others?
A I don’t really think it is quickly disappearing, just changing. There are fewer grandparents to teach younger ones the importance of caring for the land. In most of the ranching families I know of, the women work full time to help make ends meet. All three of my daughters-in-law work full time, as do I. The pace is much more hectic than when I was first married, with all the electronics, etc. And with the labor situation it means longer and longer hours for everyone.
Q Is your work being exhibited anywhere next year?
A I have permanent exhibits in places such as Restaurante Orozko at John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Sparks; Santa Fe Hotel, Saint Mary’s Hospital, and the Pennington Medical Education Building in Reno; the Carson Valley Inn; and other businesses. Our exhibit of Fifty Miles From Home has been on display at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon, and we will be placing it in another spot in Nevada next year.
Q Reflecting back on your work, what is your favorite photograph?
A There isn’t one particular photograph. Many I love because I can remember everything I was feeling at the time I took the shot. [There also are many moments] I didn’t have the chance to capture.
Q What is most rewarding when it comes to your work?
A Having people tell me my photography is about the “real Nevada.”