Open Pinterest. Search ‘cowgirl’. Here…I’ll do it for you.
Wait for it…
I sometimes search random words on Pinterest…this evening I searched ‘cowgirl’. To my..putting it lightly…dismay; I was bombarded by image after image of half dressed women showcasing everything BUT their horsemanship. This can’t be right! I know so many beautiful, strong, dedicated horsewomen…where were those photos of them doing what they loved? Where were the photos of dusty spurs and windblown hair sitting on the horse they had been practicing with for months, if not years? Those images were few and far, far between. I find this disheartening, and I intend to create some change here.
All the while I am Pinteresting, I was also looking through some photos from a benefit we attended a few weekends ago. A 6 year old cowboy, James Dukes, is battling cancer. Honestly, I don’t know James personally. I’ve photographed his family roping…and I follow his journey via his family’s Facebook page for him…but James and I…we’ve never met. I don’t think that matters – because at the end of it, if we’re not all here to help each other, what are we here for anyway? I started roping earlier this year; and this community of people – this insanely large, sometimes rowdy, always supportive, forever full of laughs FAMILY of people have made me feel like I’ve found a home. They have cheered for me, talked me through the rough days, given my little boy new friends to get dirty with, hugged us hello, and warmed our hearts. The showing of support at the benefit put together by Robyn Gorham, California Can Chasers, and R4R was overwhelming…yet not at all surprising. There is no strength like that of horsemen and women, and I am so fortunate to be a part of it. So here I sat…wondering what I could offer this young cowboy who was inspiring me and countless others without even knowing it.
Then I had an idea.
What if I put together a shoot to both benefit James, and create images of REAL cowgirls to share with the world and battle these stereotypes? What if I invited every roping, barrel racing, trail riding, horse loving, dirty boot having woman (and man!) I know – and they made a donation…any donation they wanted…to James. In return, they would spend the day having the time of their lives being photographed in their element with other strong, inspiring women who, much like young James, will not be made a stereotype.
What if. What if. What if.
So I’m placing it on the calendar. Saturday, April 12th, 2014. Our host will be the beautiful San Pascual Valley Ranch. I’ll be pinging inboxes, sharing invites, and encouraging all of my horsewomen friends to come out. Bring your horses, your (friendly) dogs, your men (if you like), your rodeo attire and your favorite boots, hats, and chaps. My fellow photographers – I haven’t forgotten you!! If you would like to come and take part in the action for stock images, or just good ole’ practice; join us! A minimum donation of $50 for photographers, $100 for participants. Participants in the shoot will receive 10 fully retouched images in digital format for personal use. Email me at email@example.com to sign up; or contact me at www.heathergallaher.com
If we raise $20, it will be well worth it. If we raise $2,000, or $20,000 well…I’ll cry tears of joy. And then I’ll send our big awesome pot of gold to the Dukes family along with a photo of our cowgirls – because we are here to help each other. We are here to love and support one another. We are here to ensure that no one, especially no child, fights a big dumb monster like cancer alone; and there is no community of people more capable of lifting up someone in need than this one.