I am a believer of signs. Last week I was knocked down in awe by the beauty of Cowgirl Kim’s photos and not two hours later received an email from my good friend at Rockin’ Vintage about a wonderful talent I just had to feature. This was my introduction to the immense talent of Laura McClure. Laura’s photographs hands down have to be some of the best I have seen showcasing the western woman. They are truly indescribable.
Now it does not require words to showcase just how fabulously Laura captures cowgirls. But I asked Laura to share with us the passion behind her work and she so kindly agreed. Prepare to be inspired and fall in love with Cowgirl Glitterati!
Tell us a little about you and your amazing business
Well, it’s just me. I started shooting photos in about 2003 in Wickenburg Arizona.. I was working in Las Vegas, wearing suits and heels, raising my daughter and barrel racing on the weekends. I decided to move back to a small town for my daughters high school and to get back to my roots, somewhere I could breathe but wasn’t sure where to go. I was driving though Wickenburg one night on my way to a friends guest ranch in Tuscon when I decided to stop, water my horse, stay the night and leave early in the morning for the final leg of my trip. I woke up, had breakfast at the cowboy cafe and was in awe of the small town I was in. I picked up a paper at breakfast, saw the job on the ranch, applied, checked out the high school and found a place to live before I called my friend and told him I wasn’t going to make it. I stayed for a long weekend and explored with my horse. Within two weeks I was living in Wickenburg with my daughter.
The salary on the ranch wasn’t near at all to what I had been making in Vegas and really hard to live on. I decided to supplement my income by creating opportunities for myself. One was a website calledwickenburghorse.com and one was photographing horses. My camera was not professional grade and I worked real hard but I did ok. Mostly shot events and horses I was marketing. I did shoot my daughter and her friends to practice my people shooting, but it was mostly horses. I moved to Prescott after Wickenburg and eventually back into the city, this time Phoenix, once my daughter was out of high school. I started office work again and hung up the photography, and horse, for awhile.
Fast forward to 2008. I had met my husband and we were moving to Chicago in a few months. I splurged on a new camera, a nice one, and started shooting again. This time I decided to pursue every and any means of photography education and study different styles and experiment with lighting. I started shooting models. The horse bug reemerged and so I began shooting horses again. It was only natural that I mix the two eventually. If the model didn’t have a horse, I used my own in the shot. I ride western and was trying to find those kind of cowgirls in the Chicago area. I wasn’t easy. I also found out you can’t just dress someone like a cowgirl… there was something inside that makes them different. With that said, I don’t think real cowgirl HAS to work on a ranch, or even have a horse. There are many types of cowgirls… it’s in the heart and in the blood.
Since I still travel back a couple times a year to Vegas and Phoenix to visit family, I decided to find my shots there. I still knew some friends who barrel raced and knew they knew other cowgirls. I started setting up shoots when I was visiting of friends via friends offering trade (they get free images for letting me shoot them). It was a win-win. I found it is what I loved to shoot and at that moment I stopped shooting most everything else and made the decision this is what I was going to do.
I do have to say meeting Cowgirl Kim and working with her has really helped my work and I appreciate her so much. She styles many of my shoots and provides the outfits for the girls to wear. We really have developed some cool stuff as a team. Rockin Vintage is another company I approached before a shoot. They let me use some fantastic guitars as props. It’s amazing what direction things take with a prop like a flashy guitar!
My work? It’s about not only shooting but the whole experience. When I shoot you may get a whole wardrobe, bling for your horse (Heritage Brand is sponsoring me, lending me great horse gear for the shots) and you are the star of the show. Reminds me of that song, “whatever makes you feel like a rock star”. My models are Western rock stars when shooting. It’s really fun, I give instruction on how to move if they need it. By the time we wrap, I think the girls feel like a million bucks and that ‘s important to me. I’m in this to make people happy while creating something special.
What inspired you to specialize in photographing cowgirls?
The whole imagery around cowgirls. They can be glamorous, beautiful yet tough, strong and have these fantastic relationships with their animals, which is one thing I often try to capture. The animal relationships mean a lot to me. They can dress down or dress up, doesn’t matter. I do like shooting cowboys too but I think the difference is I can project my feelings/imagery more into the cowgirls. I guess I put myself or what I’d like to have or see myself into the image.
I also really REALLY want to do my share to promote and save the Western heritage we have. I grew up watching Dale Evans and Roy Rogers. I’d have to say they influenced me. If my images keep some part of the West alive or spark a little girls imagination to want to be that glamorous cowgirl in the picture, I have done my job.
What is it about the western style do you feel is so appealing and glamorous?
I got the word “Glitterati” from the old Hollywood days when there was that touch of glamour in the whole feeling around the Hollywood cowboys both in how they looked and what they wore. I think there are many types of Western Style but I like to try to add that “Hollywood” or “rock star” appeal. Look at he the clothes today. It’s like the days of the Rhinestone cowboy are back but with a modern twist. Cowgirls are glamorous again! Bling with rock and roll and a little boho on the horse and off. It’s also that sense of freedom, not far from the sense of freedom that the image of the Harley rider gives you. It’s glamorous,a bit wild and free both tough and strong while feminine.
What can we expect from Cowgirl Glitterati next?
Well, I am hoping to find some companies to create relationships with be it product placement in the images or shooting for ads / websites. I would love to do some win-win situations as partners and work for them not once, but develop a relationship. I’m really in no hurry. I’d like to meet more fantastic people and have more amazing experiences. I mean from the models I meet, the places I go and the people in the companies. There are so many incredible people behind the scenes. I am still hoping to move back to the SouthWest sooner than later. It’s where my heart is. There is a chance San Diego might be in the plans. Keeping my fingers crossed. Being half Mexican myself, I’d love to be able to throw a little more Spanish influence in!
Any parting words such as favorite quotes or the #1 style tip you have for cowgirls
My favorite quote has to be the classic
“Cowgirl is an attitude, really. A pioneer spirit, a special American brand of courage. The cowgirl faces life head on, lives by her own lights, and makes no excuses. Cowgirls take stands. They speak up. They defend the things they hold dear. A cowgirl might be a rancher, or a barrel racer, or a bull rider, or an actress. But she’s just as likely to be a checker at the local Winn Dixie, a full-time mother, a banker, an attorney, or an astronaut.”
Dale Evans Rogers, Los Angeles, 1992
What is your best style tip?hmmmmm, get a good vintage looking concho belt. It’s so versatile, non bulky and can even be thrown over a tank top and instantly dress up an outfit.