Member Greg Bos exhibition at the Barbican Library

23 July 2018

Interview

Trails of the West: Images of the North American Cowboy is a photo exhibition by Canadian photographer and RPS member Greg Bos at the Barbican Library in London, England. The free entry exhibition takes place from August 2nd-25th, 2018, featuring fine art archival prints and a companion 176-page full-colour hard cover book available for sale. Meet the photographer sessions, where visitors can talk to Greg, will be held at the library on Thursday, 2nd August from 17:00-19:00, Friday, 3rd August from 12:00-14:00, and 25th August from 12:00-15:00.

The exhibition and book mark the completion of a 33-year project that began in 1984 in British Columbia, Canada, when Greg was a staff photographer at the Kamloops News. Over the years, and in his spare time, he has been invited to take pictures at a small number of historic American and Canadian cattle ranches. He has also captured the action and some unique behind the scenes moments at a few small town rodeos. Exclusive images from ranches and rodeos in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, Alberta and British Columbia form the core of Greg’s first-ever book and exhibition. Bos also worked for Reuters for 24 years as a full-time staff photographer and senior picture editor.


What can you tell us about the project?
In the summer of 1985 I decided I wanted to expand on what I had been doing as a staff photographer for the Kamloops News. I started visiting local ranches in my own time to take pictures of ranch activities for my own project. After an overnight stay at the Douglas Lake Ranch in July, I quickly realized that this ranch was the best place to build up a stock portfolio of real working cowboys. They had a big crew of cowboys on the payroll, there were plenty of opportunities to take pictures and they were happy to have me around. Rodeos in small towns like Ashcroft and Merritt were also a regular feature on the summer calendar in the British Columbia interior. After shooting black and white pictures for the newspaper, I would slip in a couple of rolls of colour film – usually Kodachrome – and shoot pictures for my project.

Where did the inspiration come from?
When I was boy growing up in Canada in the 1960s, we used to get a lot of western shows like Gunsmoke, Bonanza and Rawhide on television. I used to watch them as often I was allowed on a little black and white set. I was in awe of the hats and boots and horses. Then my attentions turned to other interests as I grew older – including photography – until that memorable day in October 1984. I was sent on assignment for my newspaper to take pictures for a story marking the 100th anniversary of Canada’s famous Douglas Lake Ranch. Seeing real cowboys, talking to them and talking pictures of them was simply magic. Cowboys instantly became my favourite photographic subject.

Do you have a next project planned?
Although this project took 33 years to complete – by no means is it really complete. There are many places in the western United States and Canada that I have not visited yet. I made a fleeting visit to Texas in 2015, but soon realized that this was a project of an entirely different scope. Texas is huge. More importantly it is one of the two genesis states in terms of the cattle ranching industry in North America. The other one, of course, is California. It is my ambition, before I get too old, to photograph working and rodeo cowboys in Texas and California.


To find out more about Greg's work, please click here.


Picture copyright: Greg Bos