Tintype Photography Clovis NM
Santa Fe, NM
Camera-toting people are not uncommon visitors to the large cattle ranches of northeastern Nevada, so Ashley's cowboss father, Terry, was casual when he went down to headquarters at the request of Jon Griggs, ranch manager. Ashley came along to watch. The part-time fashion photographer, took one look at the girl's amazing blue eyes beneath her flat, palm leaf hat and asked her to stand against the old barn's tack room door for a picture.
Later, he said he was drawn to her "classic, old-world beauty with her thick, braided hair. She looked formal, elegantâ¦sophisticated. I knew she would make a good tintype."
He'd taken pictures of cowboys of the Great Basin before, specifically at the Big Loop at Jordan Valley and the T Lazy S, Spanish and IL Ranches in Nevada. Mary Riggs was amazed to learn that Ashley's portrait had been picked for a book cover. It's among more than 280 carefully selected photographs of people from divergent lands and times. These images were in a file of 10.5 million photos taken in every "corner" of the globe in the last 100 years by 150 of the world's best photographers.
For his "shoot" at Maggie Creek, the photographer used a Civil War era camera that produces tintypes or ferrotypes. The process requires its subjects to remain motionless for several minutes. As soon as they were taken, he developed the negatives on the tailgate of a pickup using an historic process invented in the 1800s. The buckaroos and their families watched in amazement as each picture slowly materialized in the chemicals.
The editor of In Focus, Leah Bendavid Val, explained that choosing any cover photo is serious business, so editorial, marketing and publishing people view a variety of pictures selected from those representing a volume's contents. In this case, they were all drawn to the black and white tintype, although National Geographic is known for color photography.
"We felt Ashley's portrait showed strength and directness," Bendavid Val said. "It has feeling, something to do with the way the photographer and his subject worked together. We require cover photos to be symbolic of the best of what the book is about, and even in black and white, this photo rose above that requirement."
Ashley and her mother were invited to visit the National Geographic offices in Washington, D.C., where she was one of those featured at the lecture and book signing.
"When Ashley stood up after she was introduced, the audience cheered," Bendavid Val noted with pleasure.
Even in sepia tone, Ashley's piercing blue eyes are evident, and like a professional model, she's tall and slender, with the confident demeanor of one who can do things - many things in her case. Home-schooled since she was a fourth grader, Ashley developed an interest in historical eras and a fascination for beautiful period clothing. She learned to sew and has made many costumes on a refinished antique treadle sewing machine. These are not small creations. They are worthy o...