Portfolio: Adam Jahiel
by Richard Whittaker, Nov 2, 2005
These photographs are selected from Adam Jahiel's exhibit "The Last Cowboy" which was on display at the Northeastern Nevada Museum in Elko during January of 2005. Reproduced only in dots of black ink, except for the image reproduced here, his photographs lose the warm richness of the original platinum prints. Still, their power is hardly diminished. Platinum printing is a time-consuming process now largely obsolete. The process, like the life these images capture, is now historic and thus particularly well suited to Jahiel's subject, ranch life in the open expanses of the Great Basin in Nevada, a life which continues today on isolated ranches much as it did more than a century ago.
According to Virginia Campbell in an article in Southwest Art, what started out in 1989 as a project photographing contemporary cowboys became a consuming interest, which has occupied Jahiel for more than a decade. Putting his saddle, camp gear, tent, and cameras in his pickup, he travels to different ranches to partake of the cowboy life. During weeks-long ride-abouts, he "simply watches and keeps out of the way." As Jahiel put it, "It's about as lonely a place as I've ever found." On the other hand, following the cowboys as they perform their work and watching, camera in hand, he says, "is the closest thing to being completely free that I've ever come."
Before finding this subject Jahiel had a photography career full of a rich variety of work in movies, fashion, and adventure. His earlier work, mostly in color, has appeared in a long list of the major US magazines. But the work here represents a further development, and a basic shift, something no longer tied to the needs and wishes of clients. It's about Jahiel's own seeing, something which comes from another place.
Jahiel lives in Story, Wyoming—population 650. He's married and has two children, six horses, four cats, two dogs and one rabbit.