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19th Ave New York, NY 95822, USA
The New Mexico Cattle Auction
by Kevin Black

Project Statement:

Rough and hardened are those who work in the cattle industry. These are the faces of the ranchers, rustlers, cattle brand officials, veterinarians and auctioneers. However, they have allowed me to come close and see their humanity and yes, some softness.

This is an ongoing project that allows me, an outsider to build relationships and trust in order to make images of the men and women who work in the largest cattle auction in New Mexico.

From Anglo to Native Americans to Hispanic and more, this cross-section is representative of the wide diversity and richness of the peoples of the Southwest.

I approach strangers and ask if I may take their picture. Sometimes I am approached and asked what am I doing there. In an unmarked truck sits an unassuming security man, armed with a fully automatic machine gun by his side. Brands are checked as the trucks arrive.

Photographed in the late 1800’s wetplate tintype process, these handmade images take time to produce. Plates are poured, sensitized and imaged while wet in the dry and dusty elements. The time I spend with my subjects allows me the time to chat and learn more about them while appearing to tell them about the photography. The process sees the light of this desert environment in states of coffee and cream. It only sees in ultraviolet thereby accentuating the weathered and leathered skin. The kindness, inquisitiveness or skepticism is revealed through their eyes.

This is where we meet each other.

Artist Bio:

Trained in the early 1970s, I graduated Rochester Institute of Technology with a degree in Advertising Photography. Living and working in the Philadelphia and New York City corridor gave me a further education in visual communication, mostly in projects involving advertising and design.

Working daily in the studio controlled environment was my world.
We used large format film cameras then for decades. Eventually the work evolved into utilizing high resolution digital imaging followed by digital video storytelling.

Missing the hand work and time involved in capturing images with film, I started working in traditional, alternative processes. Eventually, I was drawn to the imagery and individuality of images captured in the wetplate collodion process.

I am interested in making modern images utilizing antique glass, modern view cameras and chemical formulas from over 150 years ago. It is a bit of the control I like with a little unpredictable craziness thrown in to keep me on my toes.

This is the creative space that I now occupy.