Riding for the brand

Tanya Hamner signs a copy of her thesis-turned-into-book, ‘American Cowboy: You Don’t See Him From the Road,’ which she was selling along with her photographic prints of ranch life on July 1 at the Pinedale Library.

The satisfying

sniff of real leather alone makes Tanya

Hamner’s new book of ranch life almost

irresistible. Opening the pages of quality

paper and seeing how she deckled the

edges of each one of the beautiful photographs

makes it a sure thing.

Hamner, the daughter of sheep ranchers

Rex and Gayle Hamner, studied agriculture

communications at Northwest College

in Powell, then at the University of


It was natural that a film photography

class at Northwest would be a requirement

and in the darkroom, Hamner fell under

the spell of creating images that reflect

what she has been taught and what she has

learned about the ups and downs of ranching

as a lifestyle. Taking pictures everywhere

she went, Hamner decided to focus

on the art of photography and returned to

receive her master’s in fine arts from the

Academy of Art University, a top school

in San Francisco.

There, she discovered the works of the

prolific late cowboy photographer David

Stoecklein and also pitched her thesis as a

study of the American cowboy.

“Living this lifestyle firsthand, I decided

I wanted to do a similar thing. I wanted to

showcase not only the glorious moments

of a cowboy, but also the daily struggles

and triumphs of the American Cowboy;

thus, this is what my unique style in art has

become,” she said. “Instead of staging the

scenes, I want to bring the viewer to a live

view of what the cowboy does every day.

I ride along with the cowboys to document

their livelihood.”

After presenting her coffee-table-sized

book and being awarded her degree, Hamner

said her friends all wanted copies of

her book, with photos and essays from

southwest Wyoming and beyond where

strangers welcomed her to their ranches to

ride along.

“I was surprised, actually,” she said

of the demand for a book. She did some


for the


By Joy Ufford,

[email protected]

research though and with a professor’s help,

transformed the large book into a smaller

one with the same reproduction quality.

“My photos are a testament to cowboy

life, defined by hard work in God’s glorious

country,” she said in her story. “Gold

and blue hour light convey that glory and

the long hours. This is who we are. Our

handshake is a promise, our word is all you

need and living for greater good is our way

of life.”

She decided to make as much of her new

books as she could by herself. First, she

prints out the photographs on nice heavy

quality paper. The leather covers are engraved

with the title, “The American Cowboy:

You Don’t See Him From the Road,”

by All Occasions Engraving in Lyman. Her

father Rex, a former FFA teacher, carefully

drills the holes and Hamner laces the book

together – one by one.

She makes them to order and will also

put some together ahead of time as she did

for her July 1 open house. Hamner also

frames her prints, which also carry through

the wonderful quality unique to film.

Hamner’s “American Cowboy” portfolio,

a schedule of workshops, other sports

and action photos and her story behind her

business, Riding for the Brand Photography,

can be seen at www.tanyahamner.com

and on Instagram and Facebook at RFTBPhotography.


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