All images by Michael Crouser. Used with Creative Commons permission.
Some of the most captivating photography projects showing the beauty of the outdoors aren’t limited to landscape photography. Case in point is a body of work by commercial and fine art photographer Michael Crouser, in which he shows us the beautiful scenes of cattle ranching in the mountains of Colorado.
Michael, who is based in Minneapolis and Brooklyn, could have simply gone with straight up landscape photography for this series. It seemed to be the obvious choice, finding himself surrounded by the snow-capped peaks and lushness of Colorado’s countryside. However, it’s easy to see why the fascinating life of the cattle ranching community was also worth capturing.
According to Michael, his set titled Mountain Ranch “is an ongoing exploration of the disappearing world of cattle ranching in the mountains of Colorado.” He has been capturing the daily life of cowboys and cattle herders of different ages set against postcard-worthy backdrops and locations. The result is akin to the classic “Marlboro Country” look in glorious monochrome, featuring real people and their everyday stories.
Michael does portraiture and lifestyle in both color and black and white for his commercial work. But for his personal projects, he prefers shooting with Kodak Tri-X films and printing his photos in a traditional darkroom. This preference for black and white film definitely worked nicely in this set. I love how his photos have this milky tone to the whites and varying shades of grey and dark for the contrasty parts. The portraits especially look great with this look. It makes the viewer appreciate every bit of wrinkle, grime, texture, and detail that speaks to the gritty life in the mountains.
It’s also worth noting that in the variety of scenes Michael captured, there’s always some sort of interaction between the ranchers (and their cattle) and the environment. I think that adds an interesting dimension to the beauty of Colorado’s landscapes.
Check out his Behance portfolio to see more stunning black and white works by Michael Crouser.