American Cowboy – Frontiers – Adam Jahiel

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In 1989, while working at the Sacramento Bee as a photojournalist, Adam Jahiel headed to the Russell Ranch in Folsom, Calif., on assignment to shoot Skoal’s Pacific Bell, the three-time PRCA Bull of the Year. It was an assignment that changed the course of his career.

“It was the first serious ranch that I’d been to,” he says. “I thought, ‘Wow, this stuff still exists and I want to capture it.’ That was 27 years ago and I’m still documenting ranch life.”

Jahiel forged relationships with cowboys and ranchers throughout the Great Basin, photographing the region’s unique buckaroo culture at such storied spreads as the IL, Spanish, and TS Ranches.

“It’s such a big country out there,” he says. “In the spring, you have to go out in the desert and camp and follow the wagon because everything is so spread out. After the cowboys are done with the day, they’re not going home to a modern house. These guys walk to the flap of their teepee. Life there is so much more minimal.”

For nearly three decades, Jahiel’s photography of Great Basin buckaroos has contributed to a body of work he calls The Last Cowboy project, dedicated to preserving a way of life that is rapidly changing and often misrepresented.

“Ranch crews just get smaller and smaller,” he says. “In some cases, they just disappear altogether. I want my photography to evoke a reverence for this land and the people who work it. Hollywood portrays a romantic myth about cowboy life. That’s one view. I’m hoping I can offset that portrayal and balance it with reality—a reality that is more beautiful and romantic than anyone has ever faked in a movie.”

See more of Adam Jahiel’s photography, and learn about his annual photography workshop—held at the 57,000-acre Willow Creek Ranch in Wyoming—

Adam Jahiel’s Willow Creek Ranch Photography Workshops for 2014


Adam Jahiel's Willow Creek Ranch Photography Workshops for 2014

I will offer two workshops this year.
The June workshop will include a day of branding, and a day of Rodeo in the nearby town of Kaycee.

The fall workshop will include the opportunity to photograph several segments of a cattle drive as the cowboys bring the cattle down from the high country.

For more information, log onto and click on workshops, then Wyoming
By email,
By phone, 307-683-2862

The 2013 Willow Creek Workshop was a total success!

On September 22-28, we had a group of eight participants come to the Willow Creek Ranch, in Central Wyoming. Participants came as far as Belgium, Connecticut, Michigan, Kansa, and Colorado as well as Wyoming and Montana. Three of the participants came from one of my previous workshops, which I consider a huge compliment.

Wyoming weather in September can be iffy, but then again, any time in Wyoming can be iffy. This fall was no exception, but the weather was beyond our wildest hopes.

In 5 days of shooting, we had everything from bright sun, to light overcast, to grey, to amazing clouds, to rain, and on the last day, an incredibly beautiful snowfall. The snowfall is pretty rare this time of year, but what a way to cap off the workshop! Looking at the pictures, one would think we had spent the entire fall there.

The cowboys were bringing the cattle down from the mountains, and we had several opportunities to photograph them from faraway, and close-up. We rubbed shoulders with them before breakfast, during the day, and far into the evening!  We camped out one night, at the original Hole-in-the Wall camp, where Butch Cassidy would hide out. 

And our camp was not exactly a “roughing it” type of camp. When we arrived, after photographing  some of the many petroglyphs that can be found throughout the ranch, we came into our camp where cowboy tee-pees, wall tents, chuck-wagon, and a huge fire-pit were in full operation. My one and only non-photographic job, was to go arounds and find out how everybody wanted their steaks cooked…

On of the local cowboys who had an encyclopedic knowledge of local and regional history, filled us in on Butch Cassidy, The Sundance Kid, the Johnson County Cattle Wars, as well as the Sioux Trail, which goes right through the 57,000 acre ranch. 

After supper, we got rained on a bit, but were all happily congregated underneath the chuck wagon fly. Our cowboy-historian pulled out a guitar and played non-stop for hours. And he seemed to know about every song that has ever been written.

The owners of the Willow Creek Ranch had just finished remodeling a small airplane hanger into a meeting room. They were just putting on some final touches the day before the workshop began. These touches included a 60″ flat screen TV and a Blue-Ray player. There was a huge boardroom table that allowed 9 of us to completely spread out with our laptops and equipment, and fresh fruit and drinks at the bar in the corner of the room. My main concern were that the chairs, the high-backed, tilting, swiveling kind, would be the key to the workshops demise, as these were just too comfortable for words.

It did not take long for all of us, workshop participants, ranch owners, cowboys, cooks, crew , and a couple of other visitors to become one big happy family. Not an exaggeration.

The lengths our hosts took to get us around and make us happy was beyond expectation. Very caring, giving people.  They even had two of the most beautiful little girls I have ever seen that mingled and helped and were more grounded than many adults I know. Great models and powerful purveyors of great ranch deserts. 

I had wondered how people would react to a bunch of crazy photographers, taking umpteen billions of photos of the cowboys. I don’t know how well I would do with 9 cameras trained on me off and on for 5 straight days, but they genuinely enjoyed it.


The last night I took all the participant’s favorite work, organized it into an impromptu slide show with music, and we all gathered (photographers, owners, daughters, cowboys, cooks, and a couple of other guests), and had had a final photo-presentation. Everybody loved it. I was very proud of my group, and was asked by literally everybody to send them a CD so they could share it with their friends and family.

And nobody really wanted to leave on the last day.


***Next year, 2014, I plan to two more workshops in this same location.

Spring, ( which is often June in Wyoming),  is being planned at the moment, but we hope will involve a day of branding, a day of Rodeo (or two),  a visit to the luxury Hole-in-the Wall camp where we will have the option to overnight, and more.

Fall workshop will be fashioned after this year’s.

*** No horseback riding is required. It could be arranged, and might become a totally separate workshop at some point, but the best way of covering a lot of ground in a little time, tracking the cowboys who are moving cattle, and carrying any equipment is by a ranch truck and small hiking method. To immerse yourself into your photography in this workshop, is to concentrate on one thing only. Honing your photographic skills.

Contact me at for further information, and/or if you would like to be notified of future photo workshops.

This years workshop photos can be seen at






Photo Workshop-Virginia City, NV, – May 22 – 26, & October 2 – 6, 2013



Adam Jahiel’s West                         May 22 – 26,  &  October 2 – 6, 2013


Adam Jahiel’s five day photographic workshop in Virginia City, Nevada is a great opportunity for photographers to begin the move out of their comfort zone, and begin the transition to a higher plateau. You will be pushed to move beyond the expected ‘pretty picture’, and jump to where you will begin to create images that show your own personal style. Good photography involves taking some photographic risks, as well as experimentation, making the voyage more exciting and the destination more satisfying.

            One of Adam’s distinct trademarks is his ability to work with unusual or difficult existing natural lighting situations.  Therefore, one of the main goals of the workshop will be to increase awareness of the multitude of different characteristics and uses of light. We will be able to recognize and analyze these characteristics, learning how and when to use them to our advantage, to give us a new level of mastery using our eye, mind, and technical knowledge.

            Five days in Virginia City and points beyond will give you an opportunity to shoot, review, share, analyze, sleep on it  then get back out there to expand on your newly developed strengths. Your only limitation will be your imagination. Beginners welcome, laptops recommended.


Fee: $490 – Lodging and workshop space is limited.  Registration is accepted in the order received with a non-refundable $200 deposit addressed to Adam Jahiel at P.O. Box 501, Story, WY  82842.  For more information contact Adam at 307-683-2862 or email him at



Adam Jahiel was educated at the Brooks Institute of Photography (BS) with a major in commercial photography and attended the University of Missouri, Columbia (BJ) majoring in photojournalism. Jahiel began his freelance career doing editorial, motion picture and corporate photography working on projects as varied as the movie “Out of Africa” to HBO comedy specials. Jahiel is also drawn to adventure projects; most notably he was the photographer for the landmark French-American 1987 Titanic expedition. His work has appeared in most major U.S. publications, including Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, National Geographic Society and others. Jahiel’s work has also appeared in dozens of books, including the acclaimed “A Day in the Life Of” series. Jahiel  lives in Story, Wyoming.  Also see:


Note: The workshop fees do not include lodging.  St. Mary’s Art Center rates are $65 per night per student (add on $390) or if two are sharing a room it is $100 per night (add on $300 ea).  It is recommended that students stay at the Center because staying there is half the fun.  If students are driving in, a 10% of the workshop fee will be charged to help pay for the use of the building.   St. Mary’s Art Center is at 55 North “R” St, Virginia City, NV  89440    See: