In January I made my first visit to the Tonto National Forest near Mesa specifically to photograph the Salt River wild horses. If you've followed any of their recent history, you'll know that in August of 2015, the survival of these wild horses was in danger. They were slated to be removed from the areas surrounding the Lower Salt River with little warning and even less reasoning. The public outcry brought national media attention to the situation. Today, a bit more than a year later, state legislation protects these horses. A dedicated community of locals fundraises on their behalf, advocates for them, educates the public about them, cleans the river and lands where the horses live and, as a last resort, even intervenes to rescue injured or sick animals.
I live far away in Chicago but making images of our wild horses has become a meaningful part of my life. I'm actually headed back with a friend to photograph the Salt River wild horses in just a few days.
I always try to say “photograph” when I talk about horses, rather than “shoot” because I don’t want anyone to think I mean to use anything other than my camera. It's awkward to use photograph as a verb. It sounds too formal. Every time I don't say it though, and use the verb shoot instead, I find myself launching into an explanation that I'm not using a gun. Of course I'm using my camera. I'm an artist. A photographer. I don't believe in weapons. I'd had this conversation enough times that I'd almost actually convinced myself that the whole explanation was unnecessary because no one shoots horses anymore so no one would ever assume that's what I meant.
And then I read this. And this. And this. I wasn't there so please, click the links and read the details of this story on your own. Perhaps it hasn't been so silly that I'm hung up on using just the right word to describe what I do when people are actually out there shooting them with guns.
I don't have words of wisdom here, or a moral to share. I just want to thank all of you for shooting with your cameras and not with a gun.