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|KCMag.com : PORTFOLIO: DAN WHITE|
There is magic in the Big Sky country of western Kansas. It’s the allure of being away from power lines and telephone poles—a magic that seems to turn time back 100 years to the era of the American cowboy.
And that’s the magic photographer Dan White (danwhite.com) loves to capture. It’s what entices him back to the ranches, behind his lens, to discover the faces of those on horseback. Kansas City will have the chance to see some of the faces White photographs at the American Royal Rodeo October 27–29.
For the past 25 years, White has practiced his photographic art in a variety of ways, including corporate and advertising work and editorial work for Time, Newsweek and Fortune magazines. But he’s always been happiest when capturing portraits. “I’m particularly fond of photographing people—it’s sort of my way of learning about the world,” he says.
White’s commercial photography was what originally brought him to western Kansas, especially the Flint Hills area. “I was shooting commercial jobs and did a series of portraits of cowboys,” he says. “I saw some of these faces, and I knew I had to come back here and do some portraits. From there, I was just enamored with Flint Hills.”
When he had the opportunity to do photography for a book called “America 24/7,” a day-in-the-life look at Americans across the country, White jumped at the chance. He contacted a rancher in Kansas and asked to spend a few days on site.
White experienced everyday life with the ranchers and admired the values he saw in them. “There’s an uncommon work ethic embedded in the culture,” he says. “[Ranchers] are really hard-working, the type that are interested in helping your neighbor.” And you have to help your neighbor, White pointed out, when the nearest one is five miles away.
Whether he’s capturing cowboys or anyone else, White says his goal as a portrait photographer has always been to make people comfortable in front of his lens. You can learn a lot from being observant, he says. “One thing you can learn from photographers is they just look at life differently; they look more deeply at things. Everyone would do well to do some of that.”