IN FOCUS - VOLUME III - Flipbook - Page 43
L A RG E
48” x 101” Unframed
63” x 116 Framed
Edition of 12
S TA NDARD
33” x 67” Unframed
48” x 82” Framed
Edition of 12
NO. 1 8
Looking back at my 38 years of holding
a camera, there have been a few key
moments along the way. Maradona
in 1986 being my initial prompt. But it
was probably way later in 2014 when
I took the picture Mankind in a cattle
camp near Yirol in South Sudan that
my life changed. To borrow from Eddie
Cantor “it took me 30 years to be an
overnight success”. There have been
many failures along the way.
I had recently considered returning to South Sudan to re-photograph
that exact location, but a combination
of COVID and an uptake in conflict in
the country made that impractical.
I also always have reservations on
reshooting any previous set, it can
hint at a lack of original thought.
Meanwhile, we had an idea. Our
anthology to the “Wild West” - now
in its six month of production - had
allowed us to become familiar not
just with the topography of much
of the west, but with many cowboys
and ranchers whom we now consider
friends. The cowboy is integral to the
enduring myth of the Wild West and
no more so than in Texas, where the
great cattle drives were first initiated.
No state played a greater role in the
trail drive era.
West Texas and South Sudan ostensibly don’t have much in common,
but from a filming perspective there
are some similarities. The land is flat
and arid and in both locations the
cattle are special. The horns of the
cattle looked after by the Dinka in
South Sudan, are magnificent, but
the Texas Longhorn is no poor cousin.
With the help of two renowned
Texan working cowboys - Craig Carter
and Ryon Marshall - we spent last
week filming near Valentine, not far
from the Mexican border. I knew what
I was looking for; a frame with depth;
so as in South Sudan, I brought a
ladder and a frame with contextuality
and breadth; so, I knew that any lens
with magnification would be a big
error (it normally is anyway when
a sense of place is integral to the
I settled on a standard lens, but
we had a problem, the dust being
kicked up by the drives was intense.
If the wind took the dust towards
me, there was not just the inability
to film, there was a danger of the
thundering herd not seeing me. On
one initial drive, they came out of the
dust cloud just yards from my ladder.
Not something I would recommend.
So, we worked out the formula,
we would shoot against the light and
with the herd directly downwind from
me. As we rose at 4 am, we prayed the
local weather forecast was accurate.
The cowboys, led by Ryon Marshall, were magnificent and after
72 hours we got the job done. The
closing down party in the desert
last Thursday night was something
I will always remember. Great food,
the most engaging company and, of
course, country music. My team left
with a warm glow and a real sense of
connection with the cowboy culture
down there. We can all learn something from it.
You gotta love Texas.
“TO BORROW FROM
“IT TOOK ME
30 YEARS TO BE
HAVE BEEN MANY