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Posts Tagged ‘western’

Audrey Hankins: First Light

Audrey Hankins: First Light

    
     Audrey Hankins is a woman of leather and lace. Leather saddles, lace kitchen curtains. A cowboy poet who first impressed me with her poem Hollyhocks as I sat in the audience at a cowboy poetry gathering and who later impressed me with the way she brings poetry into her every word and gesture, I am blessed to know her now as a dear friend.
     When Audrey approached me to provide the photography and design for her first CD of cowboy poetry, I felt honored and was excited. I knew that the vision I had for this project would fit her very well. Good friend to both of us, Jim Jones, would supply the music to dance around her words and recite one of her poems as well.
     For a project like this, although I can do all the photography for a CD in one session, I prefer to spend some time with the artist. For Audrey, I visited her at her home in Wickenburg and stayed with her for a few days, photographing in several locations and talking until the wee hours of the morning about our lives and her dreams for this CD as we sat at her kitchen table and started to bring the images and design together.
     Audrey’s son lives in a nearby “horse town” and we went there so I could photograph horses, cattle, and a windmill for the center foldout in the morning light. I worked with the image to create a sepia toned artpiece with “hand colored” horses. The next morning, pre-dawn in uncomfortably cold weather, we headed into the desert east of her home and I laid on the ground, face down in the dirt and stickers (almost backed into a prickly pair as I moved to find the perfect composition), and created an evocative sillouette of Audrey in the first light of day. When we got back to the house and warmed up over coffee and toast, I brought up the images for her to see. Until then, she had another title for the CD. The image that is on the back traycard of her CD got us to talking and inspired her to rename it after one of her poems (the first poem on the CD), First Light. The blessing of that image made the cold and stickers insignificant. The cover/autograph page/inner traycard images were created at the ranch of her close friend Suzi Killman, western singer/songwriter and daughter of equine artist Hildred Goodwine. Audrey loves the cover image as she says it conveys a “come on in and have a cup of coffee” welcoming feel.
     The CD turned out to be as “Audrey” as can be…warm and welcoming and full of stories that are like the woman herself, a bit of leather and lace/sunshine and strength. First Light, which includes 17 original poems, is available for $17 postpaid, from Audrey Hankins, P.O. Box 688, Congress, AZ 85332. You can find out more about Audrey, read a few of her poems, and take a look at her poetry books here: http://www.cowboypoetry.com/audreyhankins.htm#Light
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Muck Stalls, Carry Water

Muck Stalls, Carry Water

     There is a story in ancient zen wisdom of heading out on the path to find enlightenment. Upon discovering a mountain,  first “the mountain is a mountain” then “the mountain is something else” and upon enlightenment you discover that “the mountain is a mountain” again. That truth and the saying “Chop Wood, Carry Water” inspired me to create this photographic print that hangs on my wall to remind me of the importance and truth of simplicity and hard work in the service of others.
     The image is of Kristin True of the White Stallion Ranch, whom I met riding towards the light of dawn as she started the day in service to her horses. I photographed Kristin and one of the WSR staff for a music project with Donnie Blanz for Blue Highways TV (division of RFD-TV) for a song called “Paint her Real” and after photographing them as they worked I can say that these ladies embody this ethic in everything they do.

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Cowgirl's Reflection

Cowgirl's Reflection

    A few years ago I attended a photography workshop with Jay Dusard, who is an iconic cowboy/western culture photographer, at the (former) Portreros Ranch in Tubac. In the early morning light we had two models in western garb with their horses available to us and we were working with the man as he moved in and out of the light of a large tree. I maintain awareness for opportunies other than what is right in front of me and I turned in a circle to see if I was missing anything. Often, my favorite images come from the space “around the main picture” and this example is one of those images. Waiting her turn, sitting easy in the saddle with her face turned up to the morning light, was our other model…both horses relaxed and her obvious enjoyment of the coming warmth on this chilly morning evident. I moved away from the group quietly to better compose the photograph and created this image, titled Cowgirl’s Reflection.
     I approached Jay and showed him what I was seeing. The morning light was just right to create a reflection on the still pond by the barn. The next 15 minutes or so were spent as a group photographing the model as she stood and rode on the other side of the pond, as we enjoyed the beauty of the scene.
     This image has a dreamy quality. What most people don’t see right away is that the reason for the mysterious feel of this photograph is this: It is upside down, showing the reflection in the water only!
The Cowgirl's Looking Glass

The Cowgirl's Looking Glass

    
The second photograph was made a few minutes later. Which one is your favorite?
 
 

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Sherry Cervi her stallion, Dinero

Sherry Cervi her stallion, Dinero

Sherry Cervi is featured in the May 2009 issue of Western Horseman. The opening page “double-truck” image and one of her sitting by her tack room are my photographs. The images included here are personal favorites.

     I was contacted by Western Horseman late last year to photograph national award winning barrel racer Sherry Cervi. I met with her and WH journalist Melissa Cassutt the night before the sessions to get to know Sherry a bit as I’d heard much about her and her family (they live about 15 minutes just west of me) but had not yet met her. Sherry is a lovely, talented, and very compassionate gal who has lived through the tragedy of loosing her  husband Mike Cervi Jr. in 2001. Her love and passion for animals is evident in the companion animals who surround her, including her horses, and in the way she speaks of animals in her life currently and who’ve graced her life previously. A mature, bright young woman, she can be very serious yet has Painted Ponies lining her shelves and lights up when her French Bulldog, Frannie, jumps into her lap. We exchanged hugs and smiles and I said I’d be bright and early the next am to start.

     Having yourself and your horses ready for a pre-dawn photography session is not easy and truthfully I often don’t get the light I desire for my clients in these sessions as they race to finish up the fly-wipe applications and last minute make-up touch-ups. Hopefully they’ve been kind to their horse and given them a breakfast snack about an hour earlier so they aren’t too ancy. So when I showed up about 1/2 hour pre-dawn and did my last minute equipment checks, I was surprised to look through my truck window and see not only the WH writer but also Sherry, a friend to assist, and two horses ready to go! The marks of a pro evident in the way she moved in the pre-dawn light led me to admire a woman who works hard for her success. Moving out to a field to photograph her the second the sun peeked over the Santa Catalinas, as her Palomino stallion PC Frenchmans Hayday (“Dinero”) had many of his “groupies” in the barn calling out for him. Not difficult to get him to perk his ears toward the other horses, although a bit challenging to get him to stand still. He is one of those 15.2 hand horses who present as 17 hand horses, standing as a stunning frame to Sherry’s own considerable height.

Sherry Cervi with Jeffrey and friends
Sherry Cervi with Jeffrey and friends

     Once back at the stable area, I photographed Sherry in various locations including up on the hay bales with her very friendly barn cats. The night before, I’d asked Sherry: “I know you’ve been photographed hundreds of times. What would YOU enjoy most, personally, that would show who you truly are?” She thought about that and answered that she’d love to have a photograph with her and her animals. Not the brilliant, dynamic image of her racing barrels or the sun-kissed portrait of her looking like a model…she wanted a true image of her love of her critters. The image included here is the realization of that desire. Here Sherry sits in her Mother’s backyard with her mini horse and mini donkey and her new 13 week old addition to the family, a cuter than cute pot-bellied pig named Jeffrey. Although I have hundreds of images of Sherry from the morning and late afternoon session, ranging from classic to charming, this is one of my true favorites of the day.

You can see more images of Sherry on my website, PhotographyByFaith.com, and on pages 94/95 and page 98 of the May 2009 issue of Western Horseman Magazine.

PS: As an interesting side note, Sherry is part of the Potter family who own a ranch in Marana, AZ and are part owners of Ocean Spray Cranberries. When I mentioned the Potter Ranch to my husband, he knew of them as he comes from WI where they have their cranberry farm and one summer long ago he worked in their cranberry bogs…says it was one of the best times of his life. Small world, mmm?

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William Merritt in Sedona

William Merritt in Sedona

This picture is of my husband, William, yet not at the Kearny Gathering. The picture here is him by the Red Rock Crossing stream in Sedona and since he is singing a song he wrote called Where the Water Runs, I figured it fit. I’m in Ruidoso having my first week of “soul charging” in many long years and he is up in Kearny, AZ, performing “officially” for the first time at a western music gathering.  In his first set he included: Cowboy’s Prayer written by Badger Clark, Calling Out Your Name by Rich Mullins, The Saddle (a song we co-wrote), and the Rillito Song (name pending: a song about the historic Rillito Racetrack in Tucson being sold out to become soccer fields). For his second set he performed: Where the Water Runs, High Chin Bob (which I call “the kitty-cat song), Julio Robledeo (by Eddy Harrison), and Hurryin’ Back Home (another William Merritt original).

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William Merritt, my talented husband

William Merritt, my talented husband

My husband, William, has been coming forward in the western music world…first in the audience, then at the fringes of the jam sessions then singing in them, and in the last year he has participated in some open mic sessions at the western gatherings. This weekend, while I’m in Ruidoso, NM, he is performing at the Kearny gathering in AZ. He is a singer and a songwriter with a passion for traditional western music and it’s culture. We have co-written a song, The Saddle, that he’ll be perfoming this weekend and that you can hear on his website, williammerritt.net(as well as other songs). I’m hoping that his good friend Jon Messenger adds some harmonica accompaniment to his song Where the Water Runs. I am so proud of my very talented husband!

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The Cowboy and the GreyCowboy/Poet
The Cowboy and the Grey
     Georgie Sicking was born in Kingman, AZ in 1921. Through her very exceptional life she has lived passionately and strongly as a wife, mother, mustanger, cowboy poet and Cowboy. Yes, COWBOY…don’t call this gal a CowGIRL. In her world, cowboy is a verb…as in “to cowboy.”
     I met Georgie at a cowboy poets gathering a couple of years ago and then again when I picked her up from the airport in Tucson this year to deliver her to a night concert/recital with fellow performers STAMPEDE!, dear friend Diane Tribitt, and surprise performer  local “celebrity” Mae Camp (I’ve known Mae since I was a child and I showed horses with her daughter Kathy in 4-H). Georgie was headed for the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering in Sierra Vista, where I’ve been the official photographer for the last four years. After a wonderful, if exhausting, gathering Diane Tribitt called to let me know that Georgie would be going a  ride in the desert with Sam (Diane’s fiance) by their Florence, AZ home the next morning. I offered a Heart Session to document this important woman and said I’d be there in the morning.
     The morning turned out to be beautiful, with a bright blue sky dotted with cumulous clouds. Georgie scrambled up on a horse trailer fender and her horse moved over close to her. She climbed up into the saddle and off we went into the desert, Sam and Georgie up horseback and Dianne and I following on shank’s mare. With each stride, the hoofbeats seemed to synchronize with Georgie’s heartbeat and the years dropped off her as she sat straighter in the saddle. I felt blessed to photograph her, witnessing this true Cowboy on her new fuzzy flea-bit friend. In one of the pictures shown here, the gelding shows a bit of a “snotty” attitude and I said to Georgie that he fit her well. She threw her head back and laughed and said “I’ll take that as a compliment!” What a gal this Cowboy is.
     I sent a picture to Margo Metegrano of cowboypoetry.com, for Georgie’s  poetry page and also one of Sam and Georgie riding into the desert for the Art Spur feature where poets are inspired by a photograph or painting to write a poem. The photograph I sent for Art Spur is titled Heading Out. The photograph on Georgie’s page was seen by the curator of the National Cowgirl Museum, where Georgie is a Hall of Fame recipient. They are creating an exhibit of Georgie for an upcoming show, when a pair of Georgie’s spurs will be added to the museum’s collection, and the picture above where the little grey has perked ears and Georgie is looking forward will be included in this exhibit. 

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