May 8, 2017

by

I’ve been shooting at the Ranchlands’ ranches for a little over a year and a half now, building a body of work for an upcoming photo book. When I am not abroad for my job photographing mountain bike racing, I will follow the Ranchlands crew and document their day-to-day life. I reckon that I have brought along a little bit of the action sports photographer philosophy with me to the ranch; I’m always trying to be as close as possible to the action (safely, of course), but I’ve also learned to take a step back and observe.

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Through this observation, I’ve learned the routines and can better predict what might happen next. It’s also allowed me to lend a hand when needed. Lending a hand and becoming involved is key to understanding the subject matter. It also cultivates a bond of friendship and respect. I can now help operate the scale at Bison Works or run the animals down the alley. I can also help move cattle, although to date I’ve only done it by mountain bike. The crew always seems to get a kick out of it. I suppose the rush from such activities is not unlike the one I get when shooting bike racing.

My schedule last spring and summer left me little time in the States and I was missing a key aspect of the Ranchlands story – branding. Branding is talked about by the crew with reverence. The photos I had seen of it were the images I had perhaps romanticized in my mind. Horse muscles straining from hard turns, dust flying from hooves and cowboys roping calves that are on the run. I’ve freed up a fair bit of time to shoot and live on the Chico when not traveling this summer, and I finally witnessed my first branding last week. It was spectacular. Some of the crew had mentioned it was a bit like Christmas for them and I quickly understood why.

Duke, Jake, Sam, and Madi looked to me a bit regal in clean button down shirts, chaps, vests, hats, and ropes. It transported me into a simpler time, and the modern world slipped away for a day. It had the look of well-organized chaos but, to my eye, that’s a beautiful thing. The smell of the fire, the shouts of “bull!” or “heifer!”, and the wrangling of the calves was a scene beyond what I had envisioned. We have a few more brandings coming up and I am beyond excited for them. I’ll go into them knowing the “dance”  a bit better and will hopefully get a chance to step away from the camera and take a turn, giving me an even greater understanding and appreciation for “Christmas in Spring”.

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By Matt Delorme.

To book a stay at one of our ranches during a branding, contact us at 719.428.5006 // stay@ranchlands.com .

Photography by Matt DeLorme

3 replies to “Christmas in Spring

  1. Ann Creswell

    We love the ranch. thank you for documenting some of the exciting events that happen there.

    1. Tess Leach

      We love you!

  2. Net's Review

    Oh wow! I would love to come to this ranch!

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