When I began this project in 1986 I was simply looking for a venue in which I could make a lot of portraits, in a short period of time, as a way of becoming more comfortable with photographing people. My work at that time was primarily about rocks and trees and I had a growing desire to make portraits.
In late 1985 I learned that the Second Cowboy Poetry Gathering would be held in Elko, Nevada at the end of January in 1986. Prior to the second gathering I contacted Hal Cannon, the founder and director of the Western Folklife Center, and submitted a proposal; If I were provided space in the convention center to set up lights and a backdrop, to create portraits of the poets, I would donate a set of that work to the Western Folklife Center for their publicity purposes. 2018 marked the 33rd. year of my creating 'Cowboy Poet' portraits.