Ranch Country photography
by Robert McCune
GUARDIANS OF THE LAND
A Sojourn Through Ranch Country
This sojourn was something of an atonement to a long-ago departed aunt and uncle, for my not having made it beyond the level of kid-cowboy. I dedicate this book to them, and to the ranch people whose warm hospitality and sincere interest in the merit of this project made the fieldwork a rewarding and memorable adventure. And thank you, Maggie, for your encouragement and unselfish (and brave) support in this undertaking, and for making the journey with me. Without you, none of the words herein would have been written and none of the photographs would have been taken.
The Ranch Country fieldwork was completed in November 1998, with us being chased out of northern Idaho’s “Ranch Country” by a west-moving winter storm. Maggie and I began the fieldwork in winter snow conditions and ended the fieldwork in winter snow conditions.
CAPITAL PRESS AGRICULTURE WEEKLY NEWS. “Californian documents ranch life in book. Reality TV shows would be hard pressed to top Robert and Maggie McCune’s adventure. In the spring of 1998, equipped with a camera, tape recorder, and converted Ford Econoline work van called SHADOW CATCHER, the couple set off from their home in Trinidad, California to visit several ranches in the Western United States. The plan was to write a book about family-owned ranches and to photograph life on the ranches....”
Two month later, I sent a Book Proposal to seven publishers. Several enjoyed the manuscript, but due to costs in printing a coffee-table book with so many photographs, decided not to accept it for publishing.
HIGH PLAINS PRESS. “Looked over your proposal with interest. I found myself drawn into the interview-type chapters. You’ve done a good job of recreating conversation and making people come to life....The photos are exceptional....Your book probably IS unique.... Sounds like you’re having fun.”
MCDONALD & WOODWARD. “I enjoyed reviewing your manuscript. It reminded me of my own encounters with ranch families in Wyoming, South Dakota, Texas, New Mexico, and California....”
And so, having completed this - my third book - I continue to be one of that vast army of unpublished writers. Although disappointed, I was compelled to continue with this in something of a binder-book format. I’m encouraged too, that one of the black & white photographs (enlarged to 18x24 and matted and framed) was jury-selected for an art exhibit and was on display a month at the Morris Graves Museum of Art in Eureka, about twenty-five miles south of Trinidad. As you make your sojourn through this book, please keep it in mind that a few ranches have been omitted.
To “our” ranch people: In the beginning, we knew many of you only by the names of your ranches. Then, because of phone calls and more letters, ranch names became people names. And those people became friends. By means of the words and photographs in this book, it is now my privilege to introduce our ranch friends to each other.
Books cited in GUARDIANS
John Lincoln, RICH GRASS AND SWEET WATER
Stephen Ambrose, CRAZY HORSE AND CUSTER, and UNDAUNTED COURAGE
William Least Heatmoon, BLUE HIGHWAYS
From Larry and Linda Fritz, North Dakota. "The book is wonderful. The photos are great too. We are thrilled that you finished it so nicely...It was fun to see our lives through your eyes...Not everybody gets it as well as you did."
From the Kinsler and Kinsler Cattle Farm in Kansas. "We appreciate the time, effort and expense that you have gone to, in spreading the good word about ranching in our country. It needed to be shared with the general public for quite some time now...You both had the dedication and perseverance to do it...Your book is proudly displayed in our living room....It has been a pleasure meeting and knowing both of you."