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Photographers capture the lives of ranch-raised kids

Los Angeles-based professional photographers document the lives of ranch kids to introduce urban audiences to agricultural families and what it’s like to grow up in the country.

Every once in a while, a project comes along that truly bridges the gap between producers and consumers. The disconnect between urban and rural America continues to grow, and Los Angeles-based professional photographers Seth Joel and Charlie Holland have been working tirelessly to tell the real story of agriculturalists.

And perhaps the best way to tell that story is through the eyes of children. Having three ranch-raised cowkids of my own, I firmly believe living and working on a cattle ranch is a wonderful way to teach young people lessons in hard work, respect, responsibility, grit, kindness and the circle of life.

Joel and Holland perfectly capture what life on the ranch looks like through their project, “Ranch Raised Kids,” and published book, “Arizona Ranch Raised Kids.”

“In 2015, we met some ranch-raised kids when we were on assignment in Arizona,” said the duo. “These kids inspired us with their skills, passion and commitment to the ranching life. We started going to cattle auctions, ranch hand rodeos and county fairs until we could persuade one family to allow us to photograph and interview their children.”

The project took on a life of its own, and over three years, Joel and Holland photographed more than 70 kids ages 2-18, who are included in the book that was published in partnership with the Arizona Cattle Industry Research and Education Foundation (ACIF).  

“Our premise was that people like us, people who are 'not from ‘round here', did not know that children were still being raised on huge ranches, being taught values and ethics that have stood the test of time,” said Holland. “They dressed like cowboys did 140 years ago but had smartphones in their pockets. They called me ‘Ma’am’ then asked for my instagram name. We realized that they could teach the urban community a lot about their way of life and the future of ranching.”

Traveling to ranches, they photographed kids doing what they wanted to do and wearing what they wanted, for an honest look at agricultural life. Interviews with the kids are included with the photographs, giving a reader an inside look at how ranch kids think, what their hopes for their futures are and the things they love most about life in the country.

ACIF published the book in December 2018 and holds the exclusive rights to sell “Arizona Ranch Raised Kids” to support their scholarship funds and to use as community outreach. Copies have also been donated to school libraries across the state.

Joel and Holland plan to continue this project and create books for California and New Mexico to be published in 2020.

We received a review copy in the mail, and not only did I enjoy viewing the gorgeous images and reading the profiles, but my kids could see a little bit of themselves with each ranch kid featured. It was fun to flip through the pages together as a family, and it was neat to be able to relate to the stories included in this book. I think it’s an endearing coffee table book that both consumers and producers will enjoy.  

To learn more about the project, check out www.ranchraisedphoto.com or find them on Facebook here.

Also, this is the final call for photographs for our contest, “Next Generation Females.” Check out the contest details by clicking here and submit your photo entry to me at amanda.radke@informa.com by noon today to be eligible to win a $50 VISA gift card.

The complete photo gallery of entries can be viewed by clicking here.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.

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