A stunning debut collection of photography focusing on contemporary cowboy culture and the modern ranching lifestyle throughout central and southern Alberta.
Growing up in the city, Leah Hennel would spend summers with her cousins on a farm near Stettler, Alberta, about halfway between Calgary and Edmonton. The ranching and farming lifestyle intrigued and fascinated her from an early age, though she could already see that it was not an easy life to live. It’s always been hard work, but one of the glories of living it is that those who are able to deal with its gritty realities are rarely shackled to a desk or an ordinary suburban life. In this time of high-speed everything, the rural life is a calling that requires patience and know-how. The appeal is the general simplicity of the lifestyle and its regular exposure to the beauty of the landscape.
Most people, however, never get a glimpse of this way of life. They get their daily sustenance from supermarkets and rarely give a thought to where these necessities come from or how they’re produced. But whether city folks realize it or not, ranching and farming will always be vitally important.
Hennel specializes in and is passionate about documenting rural life. Through her always remarkable, vibrant and at times intensely personal photographs, she is able to both celebrate this essential pursuit and, in doing so, perhaps educate those who are less familiar with it.
Along the Western Front represents a fresh perspective on this iconic way of life and introduces photography enthusiasts to one of photojournalism’s more evocative shooters.
About the author
Leah Hennel originally dreamt of being a veterinarian. And until Grade 12 she thought she would be. But her marks, math in particular, cured her of that dream. While in high school, she jumped at a chance to explore a work-experience option in the Calgary Sun photography department. As it turned out, that practicum was the best thing that ever happened to her, as it opened her eyes to an exciting field and eventually led Hennel to the SAIT photojournalism program, from which she graduated in 1998. She built a fulfilling career at Calgary’s daily newspapers – the Sun and the Herald – and now works as a freelancer. She’s travelled all over Alberta and to most parts of Canada, as well as to Europe and Africa. She’s won a few awards along the way too, but what’s most important to her is that being a photographer still doesn’t feel like a job. Leah lives in Calgary, Alberta.
"...stunning images of ranch and rodeo life..." - Maclean's
"The photographs in Along the Western Front range from high-octane shots of rodeo action and cattle and horse drives, to intimate family moments on a Hutterite colony, to gorgeous big-sky prairie landscapes and stunning black-and-white portraits of rugged cowboys, cowgirls, bull riders and sidesaddle racers." - Calgary Herald
"Hennel's images capture calves being 'wrassled' down to the ground to be branded, riders clinging to horses trying to buck them, and barrel racers who use speed and skill to create the shape of a cloverleaf. There are quiet moment as well: two young girls relaxing on a hill after sheep shearing, and the muddy and determined face of a young rodeo competitor after a ride." - Daily Mail