For centuries, the lure of the West’s beautiful vistas and way of life has attracted unlikely folks from all over the world. Folks like Danny Nestor, a born-and-bred New Yorker and NYPD detective who became a cowboy photographer after a trip to Montana 10 years ago.

Nestor was an amateur landscape and wildlife photographer when he took part in a photography workshop at the Bar W Guest Ranch in Whitefish, Mont. Prior to the trip, he had no interest in photographing people, but then he met the working men and women of the West.

“When I was introduced to this setting and to this life, I was just drawn like a magnet,” he says. “Photographing cowboys and cowgirls was exactly what I wanted to do.”

It was a subject matter that tapped into Nestor’s childhood aspirations. He says, “Like so many kids, I wanted to be a cowboy. I grew up with my dad’s love of John Wayne, Tom Mix, and Bonanza. I just wanted to be Little Joe.”

Nestor was so enamored with the life that he chose to become a full-time Montanan after retiring earlier this year. He’s also now teaching the photography week that he was once a participant of, sharing his passion with others who may be seeing this part of the country for the first time.

“This is America’s story,” he says. “It’s genuine, authentic, iconic. I want people in the big cities to know there are still places in the world where folks wear cowboy hats. It’s a way of life—of values and work ethic—that we can’t let disappear.” 

See more of Nestor’s photography at

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