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Thursday, 07 February 2008


What wonderful luminosity in the prints! And I like the way the eyes become so strong in these pictures.

I've wanted to ask since seeing the work of William Albert Allard and others, and this seems a good time: When did cowboys stop dressing like Wrangler or Marlboro adverts and start dressing up as, well, "cowboys"? There's surely something self-conscious and retro going on here -- the woman dressed in wagon-train chic in one of Kendrick's images clinches it for me. What's this about, my American friends?

There is a certain element of dressing up, but those clothes also evolved for a reason and do have a certain practicality. Even here in Australia where we have Jackeroo's they dress for the job in hand, admittedly here its rodeo and that a performance,


Mike C. (and everyone else),

Take a look at the Editorial Review from Publishers Weekly at the Amazon link.

I haven't seen the book and I don't know anything about Robb Kendrick, but that is certainly an interesting take on the project...(and it don't mean mean the pictures ain't purdy).


I take your point, Paul, but your pictures are Wrangler/Marlboro cowboys, in the main, and asking to be photographed in Kodachrome, not tintype. The guys in Kendrick's pictures are flamboyantly dressed in items out of a rather fine dressing-up box. Setting aside the possibility that working the range has become a gay subculture (pace Brokeback Mountain) I find this intriguing. To my eye, it's the way the clothes, a particular take on "masculinity", a hand-crafted aesthetic, and the photographic medium come together that make these images so interesting. Not so much "timeless", however, as "post-modern".

Karl May would have approved.

Most of my free time is spent traveling the back roads of the West Texas and the Texas Hill Country. I can’t speak for all Americans but I can tell you what I see here in this part of the country. The cowboy spirit and dress is very much alive in rural Texas. Just walk into any café in a rural community around dawn and you will see that traditional western working attire has not changed much in the last century. Fine colorful western gear is still part of a Saturday night town but during the week it’s boots, blue jeans cut long, western shirt and a hat. Another thing that sets many of these individual apart from city folk is a fondness for old style moustaches. Not everyone wears them but they are not uncommon.

I think you could generalize and say the this sort of personal dress is common in much of the western United States, particularly the Inter mountain West, New Mexico and Arizona. Western rural people are genuine in their appearance and manner. They are not clichés or caricatures of the past.

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