Photographs from this year’s Shaniko Days Festival in Shaniko, Oregon (Pop. 28). This has become one of my favorite events to photograph in Central Oregon. Having now spent a lot of time with the residents of Shaniko, and seeing the challenges the town faces out of season, it’s wonderful to see the town busy for their annual event. The majority of these photos are of ‘The Shaniko Shooters’, a group of Old West enthusiasts who dress as cowboys, reenacting the town’s heydays with black powder gun fights in the streets. This will be my last shoot within the timeframe of the FMP, and I’m glad that I got to photograph this event before heading to England for my Exhibition.
Shaniko was once a bustling trade hub and home to over 600 residents, but now it is now only on this single day each year that cowboys appear on its streets. For the most part, I have avoided photographing the archetypal cowboy figure as it does not align with the Witness Marks project but this event is different as it is all make believe, they are acting out something that no longer exists there.
Recently, I’ve been enjoying the work of a couple of photographers who document the lives of ‘real cowboys’. The first is Rory Doyle, his series Delta Hill Riders explores the subculture of African American Cowboys in the rural Mississippi Delta. Also, Hakan Ludwigson’s Balls and Bulldust, which was Shot in 1980 but not published as a book until 2015, which follows the life and work of cattlemen in the Northern Territory of Australia.