Minneapolis-based photographer Michael Crouser’s new book "Mountain Ranch" (University of Texas Press) is a gentle yet powerful collection of photographs documenting the traditional cattle ranchers in the mountains of northwest Colorado. Capturing this fading tradition, however, happened completely by accident, after some friends asked him to visit and photograph calving season.
“Some friends of mine were living near these ranchers and invited me to come out,” he said. “I was not in a very creative place in that time – my mother had passed away and I wasn’t taking a lot of pictures."
When he finally gave in, he found being out in nature and around the ranchers to be completely rejuvenating. And in turn, he became a part of the community by documenting them. The documentation went on for about 10 years.
“They kept saying, ‘you gotta keep coming back here, you’re part of the community now,’” he said.
The community is of a more traditional nature, one that includes working from horseback, branding cattle with hot irons, mending fences by hand and irrigating fields with shovels.
Crouser shoots all of his photographs with black-and-white film, and then prints them in a traditional darkroom.
“I am very into tactile photography, the film, the camera, the negative, the prints that you are making and putting into liquid and printing with a machine,” said Crouser. “It’s about the personal craft, more than working on a computer.”
Crouser has lived and worked in New York, and also taught at the National Center for Photography, Santa Fe Photographic Workshop, and the Minneapolis Photo Center.
The project is available as a book called “Mountain Ranch,” which will be part of an exhibition at the Minneapolis Photo Center, on view from September 22 - October 28.
Opening reception with artist talk and book signing, Sept 22. at Minneapolis Photo Center (2400 N 2nd St
Minneapolis, MN 55411) 6 p.m.artist talk. 7-9 p.m. opening receptionFree and open to the public.