The Federation of Black Cowboys: An homage to Richard Avedon by Brad Trent

4/28/2016 ISO 1200 Magazine 0 Comments


Today we have the honor to feature something special " The Federation of Black Cowboys". Written by Mr. Damn Ugly,  also known as Brad Trent  (website), we hope you enjoy with this master class:


This was one of those situations that shows you never know where the flow of your career is gonna take you. Andrew Horton…the Creative Director at The Village Voice…asked if I wanted to shoot some Black Cowboys…in Queens. The Federation of Black Cowboys is a group of urban cowpokes whose goal is to promote knowledge of the “Black West”. Their Ponderosa for the past two decades is a ramshackle stable just off Conduit Boulevard in Howard Beach, but recently their membership has dwindled to around 20 die-hards and now they face losing the license agreement for the stables. Andrew and I wanted my portraits to capture a gritty, iconic essence of what it is to be a Cowboy…and we also agreed that our touchstone style should be an homage to Richard Avedon’s In The American West. So off to Queens we went…

Unlike Avedon, I wasn’t going to drag out the 8×10 and set up a North-Light studio in the shadow of a barn…



Instead, we decided to make a huge wall of soft light by putting up the biggest lights I own…



The only problem is, when you fly a 79″ parabolic light in 25mph wind as we had that day, the shit hits the fan awfully fast. Even with over 100lbs of sandbags on each 50lb Matthews Stand, it was like trying to hold down a racing sailboat in a Regatta! But I didn’t care…Kaz had to deal with it…





But our basic setup was pretty similar to Avedon’s…a simple white seamless set up on the North side of one of the stables…






And here’s how things turned out…

Arthur “J.R.” Fulmore…




“Mama” Kesha Morse…





“Mountain Man” Ellis Harris…





Even though we had always conceived the shoot as a high-contrast Black & White series, we still wanted to see how things looked in color…




…but in the end, the B&W was just too strong, and here’s how it looks in this week’s Village Voice




Thanks to Andrew for giving me the opportunity to hang with some real cool cats…and special thanks to J.R., Kesha and Mountain Man for opening up the stables to a Dude from the City…



 This article and all the images were originally published on Brad Trent´s blog (here) and shared with his permission

About Brad Trent:


I'm a Canadian in New York who shoots people. But what exactly is Damn Ugly Photography?!!...read the rest of the story here

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