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  • Writer's pictureKevin Vandivier


Updated: Jul 29, 2019

When you think of the American West, you likely think of wide-open landscapes dotted with prairies, valleys, and mountains.

You likely also think of cowboys working their herds, enjoying a ride with their favorite horse, and playing every bit as hard as they work.

Capturing the essence of the American West in western fine art photography is all about doing so in an authentic manner and one that avoids typecasting the subject in an antiquated role from old west movies.

The key to achieving western fine art photography that’s genuine is to avoid getting involved in the scene and resisting the urge to pose the subject.

Instead, western fine art photography, and more specifically, cowboy photography, is all about observing and documenting what you see. You become part of the background, allowing the cowboys to do their thing, rather than being a director telling them where to be and what to do.

Kevin Vandivier’s shot entitled Lonesome Cowboy (shown above) demonstrates these principles.

Keven stood back, observed the scene, and captured a quiet moment between this cowboy, his horse, and his land. The resulting image is both a strong visual and a vehicle through which Kevin can tell the story of the connection between man, beast, and the American West.

There’s also a large component of “right place, right time” when photographing life in the West.

In NASCAR 1800s, Kevin positioned himself just right to capture this fantastic example of western fine art photography.

The image was taken at the U.S. Chuckwagon racing National Championships in Arkansas.

The planning and preparation that goes into capturing an image like this are of the utmost importance - you have to be in just the right position, have the camera settings dialed in, and be quick on the trigger to get high-quality action shots like this.

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