Photographer Anouk Masson Krantz Explores the American West
Anouk Masson Krantz is an award-winning photographer whose exploration of the iconic American West resulted in a book of fine photography called West: The American Cowboy. Published by The Images Publishing Group, the book is full of astonishingly intimate and immersive shots of everything from sweeping Western landscapes, cowboys’ daily ranching routines and action-packed rodeo competitions. In the book’s foreword, Krantz said that she was always fascinated with the American cowboy growing up in France and when she moved to the U.S. years later, she was eager to explore this part of the world that was very foreign to her.
Here, All Roads North asks Krantz a few questions about her journey of discovery in the American West:
What most surprised you as you explored the American West?
Their strong sense of belonging, their pioneering spirit, strength, independence, authenticity, integrity and dignity that continues to captivate people. Their word is their bond and they have remained unchanged. This builds a culture of us — all together — helping each other out in the community and at the same time serving the country. My work is a celebration of those values, the work ethic, the integrity, love for friends and family, community, and country, regardless of cultural background.
West: The American Cowboy is full of intimate and immersive shots– in cars, out in the fields and at cowboys’ homes. How long did it take to create the connections that made your subjects comfortable inviting you into their lives?
Being an outsider did not make it any easier. It took a lot of time, patience and determination.
There was no staging and no costumes. I only asked for the privilege of following their ordinary, everyday lives, and tried to stay as far out of their way as I could. I wanted to deliver a genuine window into a remarkable and often forgotten culture that anyone could appreciate and understand from around the World and it had to be real. Once these cowboys learned that I was there to capture what is important to them about their world in a pure and authentic way were we able to actually look deeply into one another’s eyes. And after that there was immediate trust and open access. An amazing exchange between East and West.
What are some of your personal favorite places in the American West?
I have driven tens of thousands of miles across more than a dozen states but don’t have a favorite. Each state is different and beautiful in its own way and is home to inspiring landscapes and people.
From your experience and observation, what role does the rodeo play in Western culture?
To bring people together and to test Cowboys & Cowgirls on their ranch work skills and speed.
It is also extra cash but most leave with nothing. It is truly a passion.
There are several stunning images, not only of the cowboys, but of the sweeping landscapes where they live. What was your experience with these wide open landscapes and how did it affect your cowboy exploration?
Once I spent time out West with Cowboys, I quickly realized why they choose this way of life, generation after generation. Their values is one but the beauty of these landscapes that surround them is one too. Ranchers and rodeo cowboys also spend lots of their time on the road as they live in remote areas of the Country therefore it was essential for me to capture these landscapes as well. They are part of the story!
Follow the links below for itinerary inspiration to guide your own discovery of the American West: