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Anouk Masson Krantz is a New York City–based photographer whose work has earned international praise. After traveling out West for the first time in 2004, she became enamored with the lively world of cowboy culture and developed the stunning black-and-white body of work West: The American Cowboy. Here, Krantz discusses the inspiration behind her coffee table book, some lessons she learned while journeying out West and more.

Photography by Anouk Masson Krantz

When did you get into photography?

Unlike many artists, my passion for photography didn’t develop until later in life. In some ways the fact that I have a separate life and identity through which I have experienced the world works to my advantage. I studied at the International Center of Photography in New York City and spent most of my free time traveling around the world capturing other cultures.

Why did you gravitate toward the West?

I traveled out West for the first time in 2004 and came across my first local rodeo in a remote area of Kansas. It was uplifting to see how ranchers and farmers from all over come together and celebrate their country, their traditions, and the remarkable culture and community they all support in their own way. They may have their differences, but the one common thread among all cowboys across this country is their values. After my first rodeo experience, I found myself having an itch to return and learn more about the modern-day cowboy way of life.

Do you have a favorite location to photograph?

I have driven thousands of miles across more than a dozen states but don’t have a favorite. Each state is different and beautiful in its own way and is home to inspiring landscapes and people.

What valuable lessons did you learn from shooting this project?

It was a wonderful reminder of the importance of integrity, dignity and love for each other regardless of where you come from. You will always find something in common if you take the time to listen, communicate and respect each other.

Do you have any interest in creating a body of work that’s in full color?

Not for now. I have a minimalistic approach, and the key components of my photographs stand out without any background distractions. I love the timeless feel of black-and-white photography. I think it best captures the humanity and truths that endure.

What’s next for you?

I’m very excited about my next book, which will be released in October. It’s a continuation of my work out West. I also have a traveling exhibition schedule starting at Smithsonian affiliate the Booth Museum and NorthPark in Dallas, among other exhibits around the world.

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