We asked to see the country through readers’ eyes and received hundreds of images that remind us why the West is the photographic best.
In the unprecedented time leading up to this edition of our annual photo contest, we’ve tried to create categories that wouldn’t put camera-wielding readers in risky situations — riskier than snapping a distanced photo of a bear and her cubs, at least. In the midst of a global pandemic, canceled rodeos and powwows, and social-distancing orders, we asked you to bring us into your homes.
There’s a lot to be said about home, especially in the West. Here, home means mountains, flowing rivers, and lush forests. Home means riding on horseback or dancing in traditional regalia to honor ancestral customs. It’s grazing cows and playful dogs, soaring eagles and curious bears. Home is family, friends, and neighbors.
Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for taking us in and showing us your favorite places, people, and creatures of the West.
Winner, Overall: Searching At First Light, John E. Trabucco
“I was taking a photo workshop in Mackay, Idaho, and the models for the workshop were real cowmen and friends of mine to boot. It was early October, a smoky morning due to fires further west, and there were fall colors on the few trees in the area. I wanted to highlight the fall colors, so I hurried to a vantage point where I could segregate [the cowboy] and the colorful trees. His cattle dogs happened to be close in and were just a bonus.”
Winner, Portraits: May There Be Cowgirls, Kristen Schurr
“The photo is a self-portrait and was inspired by riding and doing cow work all day. After helping ship calves for two weeks on numerous ranches in Eastern Montana, I snapped this photo of myself coming out of the horse trailer one afternoon. I had my buff on because the dust and wind had been so bad. Although you can’t tell from my face, my favorite time of the year in Montana is shipping season and fall work. I feel as there is a lot of emotion behind this photo, it shows the type of cowgirl I truly am, and the West candidly through my eyes.
I always say, ‘The world is changing, but cowboys and cowgirls remain true to the trade.’
I want to capture the beauty and art of our lifestyle and showcase that in my photography.”
Winner, Landscape/Wildlife: Headed For Trouble, Natalie Heller
“All spring and summer long, these three cubs along with their mother played, ate grass, and wrestled with each other, all in view of our house windows, visiting every week or so. It was fascinating to be so close to them and observe their behavior while safely indoors. They would usually stay for a short time and then through some silent communication, head off toward the woods together.
On this particular day, they lined up perfectly in my lens with their fine coats shimmering in the sunlight against the backdrop of the valley below.”
Winner, Living West: Rodeo From Above, Nathan Vernes
“From this bird’s-eye angle, you could see how the cowboys all supported one another as they helped the next rider to mount the animal. I see rodeo as not just an individual competition but more of a collective love for lifestyle and sport.”
Winner, Native Life: Grand Entry 2020, Lapita Arviso
“There’s an energetic feeling that charges your soul while observing generations of powwow dancers. It is a feeling that is full of beauty and strength.
Each year I attend this annual event, it is a reminder that summer is coming to an end and fall is ahead.”
Winner, Seasons: Winter, Chad Rowbotham
“It was an Alberta winter evening and I was visiting a lovely friend for some fresh country air. She was taking the palominos out to the ridge for a little sunset exercise and I couldn’t help but appreciate the warm glow of the winter’s long, late-day sun, and how all the elements of what I was seeing lined up in beautiful harmony.
This to me, is what makes where I live truly special: beautifully kind people, breathtaking landscapes, and strong horses.”
More images from our 2021 Home On The Range Photo Contest
For more beautiful photos from the West, pick up a copy of our February/March 2021 issue.