Artist’s Page: Crystal Socha
For as long as I can remember I have always been drawn to the natural world. As a child growing up in Kansas I found myself making any excuse possible to be outside among nature. Everything about the outside world excited me. So, it was no surprise that I immediately turned to nature after picking up my first camera.
To this day the Kansas landscape still beckons me to its beauty and I find my connection to the land through my camera. The Kansas landscape does not scream for attention. It is not begging to be seen. The Kansas landscape is subtle and gentle, which makes photographing it such a rewarding challenge.
Possibility, my greater love than photography is my love for horses. From a young age I have been breaking and training horses. Most of my years were spent competing in various quarter and paint horse shows. A few years later I was fortunate enough to become the driver and trainer for a competitive six horse Belgian hitch. It’s within the Kansas landscape I discovered that I could combine my love for photography with my love for horses.
Several years ago, my horsemanship skills allowed me to be able to help on a real working cattle ranch. While out moving cattle one day I realized I could combine my passions and show the world that the American cowboy still exists. It was then that I began carrying my camera with me while out working cattle. I wanted to capture moments of real, everyday ranching. All of my ranching images are just that, captured moments. I do not pose or stage any of my shots. I don’t believe those tell the real story. I aim to capture images of real working cowboys and ranchers living their lives. I want the viewer to know that what they are seeing is authentic. My work on various ranches has given me a deep understanding of the ranching lifestyle. I have invested many hours on horseback out in the heat, the dust and the rain. I’ve had people joke that I am the hardest working person on the drive. Because not only am I paying attention to the cattle but I’m also looking for that next moment waiting to be captured. Nearly all of my ranching images are captured from the back of a horse. I believe it gives a perspective that many don’t get to see for themselves. And it gives the viewer the feeling that they are right there beside the cowboys. In the last couple of years, I have been fortune enough to be with several different ranches.
Photographing from horseback is not for the faint of heart. I often end up carrying my Canon 5D Mark III in my hand for several hours at a time. I never know when the next moment is going to occur. I do know this, I am ready to capture it. That moment in time where the beauty, toughness, and awesomeness of living and surviving on the Kansas ranchland can be revealed for all to enjoy.