When do you decide to do it what was your next move?
I was really curious about this subculture, so I just went right into the topic without doing much research. One of the cowboys in the parade invited me to a black heritage rodeo a couple weeks after the parade. At the rodeo, I met dozens of people who were excited to be photographed. Riders kept introducing me to more riders, and before long, I had met hundreds of cowboys and cowgirls in the region. Everyone was so welcoming and it wasn’t difficult to expand the body of work.
« Really, it’s all about trust. We have gotten to be pretty close because I have spent so much time documenting everyone. »
There is a family on the edge of the MS Delta who I consider to be the nucleus of this subculture. The Smith family has owned and operated land with horses for over 40 years, and so many people in the region have been impacted by them. People congregate on their farm throughout the year for trail rides, horse shows, and parties.
« I grew up in Maine, which is not a diverse place like the MS Delta. It has been incredibly heartwarming to be accepted by the community. »
Everyone is so welcoming. People are often surprised that I am consistently around documenting them because it’s not a story that’s been told very deeply in rural Mississippi. People are excited by my excitement. My life has changed greatly because of this project. I grew up in Maine, which is not a diverse place like the MS Delta. It has been incredibly heartwarming to be accepted by the community.
Do you have a favorite photo/moment?
One of my favorite moments just happened recently when I was asked to join the local cowboy club called Delta Hill Riders. This is a big honor for me, and of course, this was not something I imagined happening when I first started photographing the riders.
What are your influences in photography?
I am very inspired by the level of talent in the photojournalism world right now. Thanks to Instagram, it’s easy to keep up with everyone’s meaningful work. I am influenced by the style of Ron Haviv, who I assisted at multiple documentary workshops in Mississippi. But I’m also inspired by my peers, like Courtney Garvin, who is exploring race relations with her work in the South.
I think that you continue your work in different countries looking for the « cowboy culture » Tell me more about this?
Through the MS cowboy project, I have become more intrigued by the interaction between horses and humans. It’s fascinating to think about the role horses have played in the development of cultures around the world. Whenever I have the opportunity to travel, I explore this relationship and see how each country and region has its own unique history. Locations I have explored are Cuba, Mexico, Colombia, Jamaica and more.
– Gordon Parks: Collected Works
– The Decisive Moment by Henri Cartier-Bresson
– American Photographs by Walker Evans
– Diane Arbus: Revelations
– William Eggleston, 2 1/4