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The fading culture of ranching

A photo essay on the contemporary cowboy culture in Australia, Uruguay and the US.

My parents emigrated from Uruguay to Australia when I was 18 months old. With my extended family still in Uruguay, I never had the opportunity to really know my relatives, particularly my grandmother, who always seemed to be really old to me. The brief, scrambled, international phone calls throughout my childhood did little to help me understand who I was and where I had come from.

In 2002, my grandmother turned 100 years old and I had a brief opportunity to spend some time with her. Looking at family photographs and listening to the stories of her childhood inspired me to start this photographic project titled “The End of the Trail.”

During my stay in Uruguay, I set out to photograph the essence of her stories and to gain a greater understanding of my heritage. My thoughts on ranch life where mostly filled with romantic ideals of freedom and independence. I had no concept of the harsh environment that the ranchers lived and worked in, and how the intense solitude defines them. At that moment, I decided to immerse myself in their day-to-day lives, pulling from these experiences to create a unique perspective of their fading culture.

From my initial trip to Uruguay in 2002, my interest in this project evolved and I decided to expand into other countries where ranching had a significant presence in the culture and where traditional working techniques still existed. Through extensive research I decided upon seven countries that had adapted the original working techniques of the Spanish conquistadors and established a ranching heritage that spanned centuries. Those countries include Spain, Mexico, the United States, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Australia.

To date, I have covered cattle ranches in central Australia, Uruguay, Montana, Nevada and Wyoming. My plan is to complete this photographic series, which would include south Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Mexico and two additional regions in the United States. I never intended for this documentary to be a weightless visual record, but an enduring photographic series that is told on the faces of the people who live and work in this unique global culture.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/the-americas/090514/the-fading-culture-ranching