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Behind the Lens: Photographer & Author David Stoecklein

Regretfully, soon after this interview David passed away. He is truly missed by the Ariat Family and we are honored to have worked with him. We hope that, through this interview, that you get a glimpse into the life and his beautiful work.

David Stoecklein’s iconic photography with its emotion, breathtaking scenery, and composition helped to shape the image of the modern American cowboy.  David’s fascination with the ranching heritage of the American West led him to befriend, and subsequently photograph, the men and women still breathing life into the mythical figure of the cowboy. His passion for preserving the traditions and beliefs of hardworking cowboys and cowgirls gradually earned him their respect. With that, respect came an open invitation to share in their lives, and the great responsibility to honor their trust.

Q: How you got started in your career?
A: After taking a photography course in college, I knew that was all I wanted to do.  I was a skier living in Aspen, Colorado.  In the beginning, I took photos of skiers and the mountains.

Q: Who was the biggest influence on your choosing this line of work?
A: My mom took thousands of family photos.  My mother’s passion for documenting family life spurred my passion.  When you find something you love, it becomes your profession, and it supports you that is a lucky in life.

Q: What drives you?  
A: My line of work is something you have to be passionate about. For the past 25 years, I have dedicated my life
to documenting the Western United States through photography.  

Q: What is your proudest career moment?
A: Seeing my son, Drew publish his own book Seasons of the Steel Head.  He is also a photographer.  

Q: Who is the most interesting person you’ve photographed?
A: Lyle Lovett is a great friend and a wonderful person.  I enjoy hanging out with him.  We talk all the time.

Q: What was the inspiration for your latest book The Cowboy Horse?
A: It’s one of a in a series of books I’ve done is documenting the Western United States.  I’ve done over 45 books.

Q: Who was you favorite mentor or idol growing up?
A: Walter Curley was my grandmother’s brother.  He was an unbelievable person.  An Irish immigrant, who made a lot of money,
traveled the world and met kings and queens.  I loved being around him.

Q: What do you love about riding?
A: I love the interaction with the horses.  I like to rope, do a little cutting and horse packing in the mountains.

Q: What’s your favorite space on your ranch?
A: My barn.  I have my workshops in there and where I hang out with the horses.

Q: Do you have a good luck charm?
A: My Clint Holmes money clip that I carry every day.

See David Stoecklein’s books

When the Rains Came by Jean Prescott and photography by David R. Stoecklein