A professional photographer since the early seventies, David Stoecklein has devoted the past fifteen years to lovingly recording archetypes of the American West—and although he lives in Idaho, he has spent much of that time shooting Texas for coffee-table books such as Don’t Fence Me In, Images of the Spirit of the West, and T he Texas Cowboy. Over the years, Stoecklein says, he’s developed tremendous respect for Texas ranches, so he was the logical choice to provide photos for three of this month’s ranch stories (see “ When We Were Kings ,”, “ The Biggest Ranches ”, and “ Briscoe’s Bounty ”). “The ranches I went to were great—many owned by the same family for more than one hundred years,” he says. “And that’s the real trick for me: to try to communicate how special these places are—the people, the landscape, the barns, and even the fences. I’m on a mission, if you will, to preserve the history of the West through my photographs and to show people what it looks like in the time frame in which I’ve lived.” Oddly enough, this rugged-looking 49-year-old who is so adept at making the austere look beautiful actually hails from Pittsburgh. How, then, to explain his passion for ranches? “I was exposed to way too much Hopalong Cassidy as a kid,” he says.