I started sorting through the thousand plus images I took Day One of Shoot The West part of Way out West Fest 2019. I drove down to High River, Alberta Thursday May 30th and stayed the night at a hotel. Up early in the morning to meet with the shoot organizer Sarah, Scott Baxter (our host photographer) and the rest of the photographers like myself and we headed out as a convoy to the John Scott Ranch in Longview, Alberta.
The John Scott Ranch is a location used by many film companies, with old west sets, props, animals, and views galore (or there would have been views galore if the air wasn’t filled with smoke from the northern wildfire at High Level). I was not sad about the smoke tho, I have shot in smokey conditions before and I know that the diffused light can deliver some great images. Since we were set to shoot cowboys with portraiture in mind this was kind of ideal in my opinion, but there were no vast sweeping views to be seen.
“Standing in one of the spacious corrals at The Scott Ranch, you would almost believe you’ve stepped back in time and the Old West. Established by Scott’s grandfather, in 1904, and located in the picturesque ranching foothills of the Canadian Rockies, the ranch itself exudes authenticity. Scott’s ranching blood runs three generations deep, and the pride of heritage is evident in the careful preservation of this 100-year-old working ranch. Ranch manager, Cathy Sutherland, adeptly serves at the helm of the ranch, overseeing the cow/calf operation, the horses and a small herd of bison.Home to Scott, Sutherland and a handful of wranglers and ranch help, the quarters and land have been used for filming many a western film, and come complete with its own built-in frontier town – a former film set used in the movie Monty Walsh, starring Tom Selleck.“Within 100 miles, you can make it look like five different states.” so said Clint Eastwood when describing Alberta’s multitude of filming locals. Indeed, capitalizing on the diversity of the landscape of Alberta, has led JS Motion Picture Animal Productions, through a lifetime journey of adventure in the movie industry.” (excerpt taken from the John Scott Ranch website, please visit for more info on the location)
And we had cowboys to shoot! The theme for the day was Cowboy Portraiture, I was pumped to get some images I could use for my project. My hope was to push myself a little out of my comfort zone and shoot more action images, not portraits of people looking or smiling at the camera, the pieces and parts I could use to create some epic composite work for fine art prints. I was not disappointed but we will get to the cowboys at another time.
This blog post can and will go on forever if I try to cram everything I shot in one post so I will break this up in to a series of posts and today I want to feature our First Nations model Savanna. Savanna was a former Calgary Stampede First Nations Princess. The current First Nations Princess was also there to model for us, Astokomii Smith, she has a few restrictions on how we can feature her while she is the current Princess so I will save her images for later down the road when I can share all of them and not be restricted by the rules.
I haven’t had time to composite any of these images yet, what I share with you today is just straight up photography, some images may be used again down the line to create some fine art portraits so stay tuned for that (subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss out!)
Savanna Sparvier is from the Siksika First Nation. She was the 2017 First Nations Princess at the Calgary Stampede. Savanna stayed with us all day long, she was a trouper and a great model who was really fun to shoot and needed very little direction. Her regalia is a mix of passed down items (the beautiful shawl was her grandmothers) and some were made by her mother who is a designer.
It was really hard to narrow down a few of my favourite images to share with you but here they are:
Stay tuned there is more Shoot the West Series to come….