Capturing the Story of Ranch Life Through Photography

Bob Sitz Capturing Ranch Life Through Photography

Rancher Bob Sitz utilizing his digital camera to document range conditions on the ranch.

What do C.M. Russell and Evelyn Cameron have in common? They both depicted the Montana cowboy way of life. Both of these artists expressed their interpretations by uniquely documenting the humanity and beauty of ranch life. Their images now stand the test of time. In fact, both Russell and Cameron have an entire museums devoted to their work.

We don’t all have to paint priceless pieces or make careers out of braving the range to capture the perfect image of cowboying’, but we do all have the ability to document ranch life images. Our cell phones and digital cameras today will capture snapshots of life with a few touches.

Buildings probably won’t be built to house our work, but our “museums” are all digital. Our ranch’s Facebook page can be a display of modern-day images of life on a Montana ranch…where there is no admission cost or lines to get in.

People, who cherish the works of Russell and Cameron, cherish them because of the glimpse into what life was like for a cowboy. We have the ability to reach a global audience through social media…to share thousands of glimpses into ranching and the production of beef. Why not utilize this the best we can?

“I was inspired by Dr. Temple Grandin to start using social media in order to get the word out…in other words, show what really happens in the beef industry,” said Rebecca Rein of Rein Anchor Ranch in Melville, Mont. “If I can reach one person and disprove the misbeliefs of how ranchers treat their cattle, than I consider that a success.” Rein frequently posts photos of her children working on the ranch with their dad, Charlie.

Bob Sitz Capturing Ranch Life Through Photography“I hope I can influence the youth on social media because they need to have a true understanding of how agriculture effects our country and its importance for everyone’s prospering for generations to come.”

“I try to post pictures regularly because I feel it’s important to make sure friends, family and acquaintances remember how important family is…and needs to stay, in ranching,” said Katey Marquis from Malta, Mont. “Sometimes seeing others’ perspectives of ranch life makes us rethink our own, and as we all know, family is very important to survival. If we can’t take the time to remind each other about its importance, who will?”

“I enjoy being able to share photos of my life on the ranch because it helps our friends and family across the country see the type of work we do,” said Heather Quigley of Avon, Montana. “The pictures can’t really show the amount of time, love, or even the heartache that we put into our animals and land. But hopefully, overtime, they’ll grasp that concept by seeing what I can share through photos.”

I’ve been creating some collages of Montana ranching for use on the MSGA Foundation’s Facebook page. I went to several of our members’ personal pages to look for images of them doing ranch work, riding horses, moving cows, etc. but had a rather difficult time finding any.

My point is this: you all live in one of the most beautiful places on earth…your work is one of the most fulfilling jobs out there…let’s share that message through documenting the beauty. Have your family members or friends snap a few photos of you out on the range and then, post them to Facebook. Let’s create a consistent visual message of Montana ranching through hundreds of “voices.” Let’s make Russell and Cameron proud.

If you need help learning how to use the camera on your phone, how to upload photos or how to use Facebook, please email me: Lauren@mtbeef.org.

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