Robb Kendrick

Robb Kendrick
– Courtesy Robb Kendrick –

I have traveled 68,000 miles over 30 years searching for cowboys.

I enjoy the tintype medium because tintypes slow you down to consider the image being made more thoughtfully, plus you get to know the subjects better
because of the time spent with them.

The funniest cowboy moment: Having a cowboy’s horse kick my truck after nearly an hour of making an image. Not funny at the time, but showed the lack of patience the horse had for the process. (The tintype exposure time varies between four seconds and 90 seconds.)

I’ve been photographing cowboys since the 1980s because I respect those who live this life and wish I could be one of them.

To process my tintypes on the road, I have to take a portable darkroom with lots of hazardous chemicals.

Those cowboys who respect my photography do so because they recognize it’s hard work to get one successful image—unlike digital, which is like using a factory trawler to fish; tintypes are like fly-fishing.

The most challenging environment for tintype chemistry is a cold, dry environment.

Cowboys around the world are similar in that they love being outdoors on a horse and being their own boss.

The most interesting comment about one of my cowboy photos came when an Italian magazine asked who does the propping and styling of the cowboys. I told them the cowboys are quite good stylists!

My cousin worked at 6666 Ranch, and as a teen I always enjoyed a visit to the ranch to watch a branding. Growing up in the Texas Panhandle showed me how flat the earth really is.

My two sons have taught me patience, love and understanding.  I respect the men they have become.

The secret to a happy marriage is to throw curve balls and always keep your spouse guessing.

My wife Jeannie’s book about homeschooling kids around the world shares the importance of experiencing new things as a family.

The best advice my mother gave me: never be dependent on others.  Clean, cook and provide for yourself, and you’ll be fine.

Working at National Geographic requires strict adherents to respect, integrity and your subjects.

The cowboy gear that most fascinates me: the chaps, denim and hats.

My favorite Western movie is 1976’s The Outlaw Josey Wales—especially when Clint Eastwood’s character spits the tobacco on the villain’s forehead and says, “Buzzards gotta eat, same as worms,” when asked if he was going to bury the bodies.

What history has taught me is we humans never learn some of the simple lessons and demand to repeat mistakes.

Robb Kendrick, Tintype Cowboy

Robb Kendrick is old school in many ways, not just in his photography, where he prefers tintypes to digital film, but also in life: he opts for real-life experiences and does not engage in social media. His photographs have appeared in National Geographic and Life magazines. He developed a special interest in working cowboys starting in the 1980s, publishing his tintype cowboys in the books Revealing Character and Still. A native of Spur, Texas, Kendrick has traveled to more than 75 countries on assignment, with his wife and two sons sometimes joining in on the adventure.

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