A real cowboy in North Carolina.
A real cowboy in North Carolina.

I used to call this picture, “The Real Marlboro Man.”

Remember that dude? He used to advertise cigarettes? The models were chosen because the were manly men. The kind who roped and wrangled. The kind who smoked cigarettes. Perception is everything. I guess. I actually knew one of those models. He is a very nice guy. He didn’t ride horses. He didn’t drink. And, he thought tobacco was death.

Anyway.

I made this picture in North Carolina in 1981. I was driving around out in the country and saw a horse farm. I thought it might make a nice Sunday feature story so I sold the idea to my boss and the Sunday Editor. This guy was very appreciative of the fact that I even cared about what he did so he gave me free rein. So to speak. I spent a couple of days out at his farm. They are farms in the South. Ranches in the West. He was also impressed that I would take the time to do this kind of work. And, that I could ride a horse. I think my riding abilities helped more than my photographic abilities.

The picture. Luckily, even when I was working for metro-sized newspapers I was able to negotiate control over what my photo stories looked like when they were published. This picture was a “point picture” at the top of the page. A tight portrait. It was smallish, but it let the reader see the subject quickly. Even though I worked with a full complement of cameras and lenses, I made this with that Nikon 400mm, f 3.5 lens that I wrote about earlier. By about this point in my Winston-Salem career, I started calling it my “magic lens.” It seemed to make everything better. The body was a Nikon F3. The film, as always for black and white work, was Tri-X.

Oh. Those snow flurries you see? By the time we finished, they turned into a pretty steady snowfall. By the time the storm ended, it was one of the heaviest snow storms in North Carolina history. Everything was snowed in. Even the interstate was partially closed for a time.

And, so it goes.

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