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Photo: Marilyn Newton
A fiery Nevada sunset, horses galloping through a glistening snow-covered field, and a lamb “kissing” a rooster on the beak are just a few unique moments Nevada photographer Linda Dufurrena has captured in a manner that is as exciting as if you are seeing it in real time.
Dufurrena lives on a sheep and cattle ranch 75 miles northwest of Winnemucca between Pine Forest Range and the Jackson Mountains with her husband, Alex (Buster), their three sons and daughters-in-law, and six grandchildren. Dufurrena and her husband are the first generation to own the ranch, although Alex Dufurrena Sr. immigrated from the Pyrenees (between Spain and France) and owned ranches outside of Denio, near the Nevada-Oregon border, in the early 1900s.
In her book, Fifty Miles From Home, Dufurrena shares her knack for shooting those fleeting moments of everyday ranch life under distinctive lighting conditions. With accompanying text by her daughter-in-law, Carolyn Dufurrena, the two women convey a heartfelt and picturesque account of ranching traditions and life in the West.
Dufurrena, a long-time Nevada Magazine contributor, spoke with editorial assistant Audrey Greene in November.
Q What motivated you to start Shooting the West, an annual photography event in Winnemucca?
A My friend Sheri Allen went to an early Oasis conference [sponsored by the Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs] where they encouraged small communities to bring art to their town, and I had just been to one of the early National Cowboy Poetry Gatherings in Elko. We thought photography would be a good idea to bring to our community and approached the local authorities. They agreed and backed us, and still do.
Q What is the event all about?
A The 20th anniversary of Shooting the West will be March 6-9. Everyone can register for a reasonable fee. With that registration they have the chance to bring two of their framed photos to enter in one of the largest photography exhibits in the country, and they also have the chance of winning the favor of one of our prominent invited photographers. This event is the perfect place for registrants to mingle with world-renowned photographers, as only a small town can provide.
Q When and how did you get involved in photography?
A My sons were in high school rodeo, and I was just beginning to learn photography. My oldest son, Tim, won a buckle, and Nevada Governor Mike O’Callaghan [1971-79] presented it to him. From that time on, for at least 11 years, I was the official high school rodeo photographer of Nevada.
Q What is most important when it comes to the content of your photos?
A That I connect with my subject somehow.
Q What are some of the challenges you face as a photographer?
A Moving from the film world to the ever-changing digital world.
Q What is it about the state that inspires you to photograph it?
A The quiet beauty and the wonderful light.
Q In Fifty Miles From Home your ranching photographs show a way of life that is quickly disappearing. Why is it important to share it with others?
A I don’t really think it is quickly disappearing, just changing. There are fewer grandparents to teach younger ones the importance of caring for the land. In most of the ranching families I know of, the women work full time to help make ends meet. All three of my daughters-in-law work full time, as do I. The pace is much more hectic than when I was first married, with all the electronics, etc. And with the labor situation it means longer and longer hours for everyone.
Q Is your work being exhibited anywhere next year?
A I have permanent exhibits in places such as Restaurante Orozko at John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Sparks; Santa Fe Hotel, Saint Mary’s Hospital, and the Pennington Medical Education Building in Reno; the Carson Valley Inn; and other businesses. Our exhibit of Fifty Miles From Home has been on display at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon, and we will be placing it in another spot in Nevada next year.
Q Reflecting back on your work, what is your favorite photograph?
A There isn’t one particular photograph. Many I love because I can remember everything I was feeling at the time I took the shot. [There also are many moments] I didn’t have the chance to capture.
Q What is most rewarding when it comes to your work?
A Having people tell me my photography is about the “real Nevada.”
Approaching its 20th anniversary, Shooting the West continues to be one of Nevada’s premier photography events. Between 250 and 300 participants, from photojournalists to wildlife and fine art photographers, make the trek to Winnemucca every March to take part in workshops and view the work of others. A focus of the event this year is to include the work of participants with Give it Your Best Shot, a show and contest, and Outback Roundup, an opportunity for attendees to share their work and learn more about submitting their photos for publication.
Shooting the West is set for March 6-9 at the Winnemucca Convention Center. Photographers can pre-register online by February 22 for the entire event, at a cost of $100 ($115 at the door), or for individual segments. For more details and segment prices visit shootthewest.com, winnemucca.com, or call 800-962-2638.—CHARLIE JOHNSTON