West Texas, USA 2021
This photograph was taken in 2021, but I sense it could have been taken in 1870. We are drawn to filming locations exuding a palpable sense of timelessness thus offering optionality on the narrative. The more remote the location, the greater the possibility for us to remove the “now” and let our imagination jump into any era over the last six or seven generations. West Texas is my West World and that is why this bleak, mournful and unforgiving canvas has such a grip on me. It is part of America that time most certainly forgot. No wonder film makers have long been lured here.
Cowboys and cattle are not a new story; the partnership is one of the most enduring symbols of post-Civil War America and that is why they visually complement this landscape so effortlessly.
We knew what we wanted to do here, but working against the light with this amount of dust is a low percentage game. Dust can be a cameraman’s friend as it defies gravity, but there is a tipping point when it becomes his foe. On this frame, the lead drover is just out of the dust storm allowing for detail and the full benefit of the back light. The rest of this particular series was of no use at all. That is what we mean by a low percentage game.
I am in awe of the cowboys with whom we work in West Texas. They are the real deal and nothing is too much trouble for them. They have manners, work ethic and a sense of duty. Texas is often mocked, but I think we can learn a great deal from cowboy culture.
It has been a privilege to photograph this series. I am excited to return to the UK after 108 days of filming in the Wild West of America.