Behind The Shot: David Stoecklein – Ketchum, Idaho

Cowboy sheltering a young cow calf in the winter snow and inclement weather

Hero of the Storm by David Stoecklein

There is an old cowboy saying that goes, “Talk less and say more.” Famed “Wild West” photographer David Stoecklein, who passed away this last Monday, November 11th, spent the majority of his career doing just that. Based out of Idaho, Stoecklein started as a sports and outdoorsman photographer, but it was his love for cowboys, horses and ranching that became his primary focus. As a luminary of Canon’s Explorers of Light since the program began in 1995, the photographer chose to rely on real ranch-hands and natural lighting in his photography, which gave his body of work a timeless aesthetic that coupled so nicely with the environmental ambience of the modern West. I had several interviews with David over the years. With boundless energy and enthusiasm, he was inspirational not only as a photographer but also as a person. Our discussions on the magic hour will certainly be missed, but thankfully more than 25 years of immaculate Wild West imagery will be able to carry on Stoecklein’s legacy without him. He is also survived by his wife and three sons.

Backlit cowgirls leading horses against a silhouette backdrop of evening golden light

Real Cowgirls by David Stoecklein

“My goal in life has been to document the West and to document it as it is in the period of time that I lived,” Stoecklein told me once about his photography. “I’ve found over the years that I really don’t like doing this sort of formal portrait where the lighting is very controlled and the person is posed. Some of those portraits are just spectacular, but for me it doesn’t give the real mood, the feeling, the personality and all of the things that I like to capture in my portraits… I wanted to show them in the dirt, and the grit, and what they really do, and the weather that they’re really in, not some lit-up thing with strobes and everything. I don’t want to knock the guys that do that, because that’s a real art to be able to do that, I’m just saying it’s not my style.”

Cowboy leading a team of horses over a backdrop silhouette in the magic hour light of evening or morning

Ridem’ Like You Stolem’ by David Stoecklein

To see more of Stoecklein’s work, visit his website at www.StoeckleinPhotography.com. Continue to follow his work and leave thoughts for his family and peers on his Facebook page here.