Western Photography

Western Photography

In Image by Debbi FadliLeave a Comment

What do we think when we hear western photography? Do you think horses, cowboys and Indians or logging and mining operations? Most people would answer ‘yes’ that’s what they think of, but there is a lot more to the west such as neon signs which have been around since the 1930s.These kinds of photographs contain a sense of the here and now, like recording history also with a deep cultural heritage.

Many of Martin’s images have become iconic symbols of the American West and have preserved an era in time that has long been forgotten. Martin Garfinkel’s photographic series of the American West has been since 1960 to the present to help encourage viewers to think about the ways that he can influence our understanding of the nostalgic west, its people and its places. Photographers do not copy the world; they create an intercession that stands between us and the world, which encourages us to see and feel the image they have created. Neon signs, (read more about neon signs) are a big part of the west even though it’s a generation after the cowboys and Indians, when the railroads were moved and the small towns built motels and cafes they mostly all had neon signs to attract tourists. The cowboys are still there as ranchers and there are Indian tribes whose heritage still lives on in a more modern way. 

Sometimes people visit our gallery looking for Western photography without knowing what they are really looking for. Once they see some of the old neon signs like the Ranch House Café, El Vado Motel, read about the remodel here, or the Historic Route 66 Motel they redefine what a “Western” look might be. Remember as a kid going on vacation with your parents riding in the back of a station wagon glaring out the car window at the neon signs all lite up like you were in wonder world. Now, as you are hanging that neon sign image on your wall at home you feel those memories and you have a different kind of view and appreciation for western photography.

The fact is the West is a collection not only of landmarks and scenery, but of an era of discovery which opens up a whole new understanding of what one might call western photography, so when you hang a neon sign (which at the gallery we also have for purchase) or printed on metal (many other printing options available) it’s a part of history you can pass on to generations to come. After reading this blog when you hear ‘Western Photography” now you may think cowboys and Indians but you will also think history , neon signs, Route 66 and of course photographer Martin Garfinkel whose passion has been to bring to the world those images of a bygone era of the American West.