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The Look

Photography editor Leslie Baldwin on selecting the perfect photo for the cover.

By April 2007Comments

texasmonthly.com: What did you have in mind for the cover art when you started?

Leslie Baldwin: We tossed around several ideas—from recreating the 1994 cover image with now-retired Texas Ranger Joaquin Jackson—to doing a group shot with younger Rangers who represent the modern-day Texas Rangers, which gets to the heart of our story.

texasmonthly.com: Why did you end up using a shot of Clete Buckaloo, and is that shot the kind you imagined you would have for the cover?

LB: Clete Buckaloo is a highly respected captain in the Rangers whose day-to-day routine is far different from what Joaquin’s would have been fifteen or twenty years ago. We felt he represented this new era for the Rangers—more computer-time less saddle-time, yet his image played into our notion of what a heroic Texas Ranger looks like. Just look at that face. This would probably embarrass him since he seems very soft-spoken and humble, but he just had the look that worked well for our cover.

texasmonthly.com: Dan Winters was the photographer for this shoot. Why did you pick him, and what was it like to work with him?

LB: Dan was the obvious choice for the assignment given how perfectly he covered this same subject for us thirteen years ago. Dan’s cover portrait of Joaquin Jackson became an iconic cover for Texas Monthly and helped contribute to Joaquin’s subsequent “fame” if you want to call it that. As always, Dan was great to work with. He knows exactly what he wants and how to execute it, so he makes our job really easy.

texasmonthly.com: Tell me about the photos you used of the Rangers. What image were you going for, and do you think you pulled it off?

LB: Pam Colloff interviewed many more Rangers than we had room to run portraits for, so we had to narrow down our choices. In the end, we went with portraits of two prominent leaders in the organization—Captain Buckaloo and Captain Gerardo De Los Santos. We felt it was important to include Joaquin who was on our cover in 1994, representing an older era of the Rangers. Sergeant Marrie Aldridge, the only female Ranger, was an obvious choice to show how far the Rangers have come in recent years.

texasmonthly.com: How many pictures did Winters take that didn’t make it?

LB: Dan didn’t take too many shots that didn’t make the cut. He tends to have a very strong idea of how he wants to shoot a subject before the session ever takes place, so there is very little waste in a Dan Winters shoot. He uses a 4×5 camera, which is not a fast format to work with. It’s a big, bulky camera, and you have to know what you want ahead of time to make it work. And Dan is certainly the person to pull that off.

texasmonthly.com: The picture of the gun obviously sticks out among these. Why take it, and why include it?

LB: In our story several Rangers talk about the Colt .45 and it’s link to the past. Many see it as carrying on the tradition of the Texas Rangers even though it isn’t the quickest or easiest weapon to use. One Ranger mentions that the Walker Colt was developed in part by Samuel Walker, a Texas Ranger back in the 1840’s. The photo we ran was the Colt .45 Joaquin Jackson has carried for years—it’s just a beautiful object.

texasmonthly.com: Had you read a copy of the story before going to the shoot, or had any contact with writer Pam Colloff?

LB: We had quite a bit of contact with Pam before the shoot took place. Pam is always super organized and knows her subject well, so she is a great guide in terms of figuring out what makes sense to shoot for the story. We didn’t have a final draft of the story at the time of the shoot, but we had plenty of info to go on to make sure we were taking photos that would match the story.

texasmonthly.com: Anything interesting happen at the shoot? Rangers that gave you trouble or anything?

LB: It was pretty low-key, but I did hear that when Captain Buckaloo pulled his rifle out of his car, a jogger was passing by and got a little freaked out. That gun is pretty scary looking. Not something you expect to see in a park. Plus Captain Buckaloo is a big guy, so it must have been quite a sight for this poor jogger. The Rangers were all very sweet, soft-spoken, polite, professional—and tall.

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