David Stoecklein launched his photographic career taking lifestyle shots of skiing, fishing, hiking, and biking, landing assignments for companies such as Coca-Cola, Ski Magazine, L.L. Bean, Reebok, Timberland, and Scientific Angler. It was not long, however, before he turned his lens to his neighbors on the great ranches of the West.
David’s fascination with the ranching heritage of the American West led him to befriend, and subsequently photograph, the men and women still breathing life into the mythical figure of the cowboy. David’s passion for preserving the traditions and beliefs of the country’s honest, hard-working cowboys and cowgirls gradually earned him their respect. With that respect came an open invitation to share in their lives, and the great responsibility to honor their trust.* We are proud and honored to interview David Stoecklein!
Number of years in your profession:
42 years since I began working as a full-time photographer.
How you got started in your career:
After taking a photography course in college, I knew that was all I wanted to do. I was a skier living in Aspen, Colorado. In the beginning I took photos of skiers and the mountains.
Who was the biggest influence on your choosing this line of work?
My mom took thousands of family photos. My mother’s passion for documenting family life spurred my passion. When you find something you love and it becomes your profession and it supports you that is a pretty lucky in life.
What drives you?
Passion. My line of work is something you have to be passionate about. For the past 25 years I have dedicated my life to documenting the Western United States through photography.
Proudest career moment:
Seeing my son Drew publish his own book Seasons of the Steel Head. He is also a photographer.
The most interesting person you’ve photographed?
Lyle Lovett is a great friend and a wonderful person. I enjoy hanging out with him. We talk all the time.
What was the inspiration for your latest book The Cowboy Horse?
It’s one of a in a series of books I’ve done is documenting the Western United States. I’ve done over 45 books.
Favorite mentor or idol growing up:
Walter Curley was my grandmother’s brother. He was an unbelievable person. An Irish immigrant, who made a lot of money, traveled the world and met kings and queens. I loved being around him.
What do you love about riding?
I love the interaction with the horses. I like to rope, do a little cutting and horse packing in the mountains.
Favorite space on your ranch:
My barn. I have my workshops in there and where I hang out with the horses.
What do you think about when you hear, Ariat?
Quality western wear.
Good luck charm:
My Clint Holmes money clip that I carry every day.
Check out David Stoecklein’s books: Western Horseman, Farm and Ranch Magazine, Cowboys and Indians, Working Ranch magazine, Orvis, Outdoor Photographer, Digital Photographer, Big Sky Journal and many more.