David R Stoecklein
Twenty years ago David Stoecklein started photographing cowboys and the Western way of life. At first he was just looking for a change of subject from the active sport lifestyle photos that he had been creating for the previous 15 years. He had no idea when he took those first photographs of Ray and Mike Seal at their hunting camp in the Smoky Mountains of Idaho, his life would be changed forever.
What David found was truth, honesty, courage and a way of life, a culture that was first built on age-old principles. It is a culture where the people live by a code, where people rely on each other for help, support, and friendship, where people give respect and people earn respect. This is a culture where you help your neighbor do his work and he helps you. You watch his cattle and he watches yours.
Cowboys are not judged by how much money they have, but how they care for their families, their land, their cattle, and their dogs. It is romantic and exciting, as well as heroic and dangerous. David feels he became consumed by all of this and more. He loved the horses and the cattle; he has met some of the most interesting people and has seen the most fantastic landscapes and unique ranches.
A lot of people whom David has photographed have sadly passed away, some from old age, some from horse accidents or other terrible accidents or sickness. A few of the ranches have been broken up and subdivided or just gone to new owners. But the photos remain as proof of their existence and of lives well lived.
The library he has created of over a half-million photographs stands as a record and as a testimonial of people who have worked hard to preserve a way of life that started many years before there was the United States, or the West, or even the cowboy.
Capturing all of this on film, David hopes he has communicated this through his books, calendars, prints, and cards.