We are greatly saddened to hear about the passing of Western photographer David Stoecklein. We were blessed to have many of his beautiful images grace our pages and covers. He was a true champion of the cowboy and the West, and he will be missed. In tribute to his amazing work and life, enjoy this photo essay, which ran in print in 2012.
Dwight Hill, Blackfoot, Idaho. "This portrait was taken during one of my photo workshops near Mackay, Idaho," says photographer David Stoecklein. "I have known Dwight for many years and have always respected him. He’s a cowboy legend in some parts."
Jared Gill, Sunlight Ranches, Little Horn Division, Wyola, Mont. "Jared was on the cover of my first Little Buckaroo calendar when he was about 3 years old. I took this photo a few years ago while he was helping pick out the horses for the next day’s work."
J2 Brown, Richfield, Idaho. "I have been photographing J2 for about 28 years. Farrier, cowboy, pickup man, great family man, and a fantastic friend. He is one of the guys who helped me understand the West."
John Folsom, Hairpin Ranch, Jackson, Mont. "This had been a very long day of sorting and shipping cattle. I looked over, and John was taking a break. I don’t know what he was thinking about. You can only imagine."
Randy McClure, Simplot Land and Cattle, Grand View, Idaho. "There are a lot of great cowboys and buckaroos who work in feed lots," says Stoecklein. "Randy is one of them. He’s an excellent horseman, too."
Mareus Najera, O6 Ranch, Alpine, Texas. "I love this part of Texas. It’s so real, so authentic. Mareus is the cook on the wagon during the fall round up on the O6 Ranch. What can I say? Great food, great guy."
J2 Hoggan, Mackay, Idaho. "This boy is named after J2 Brown or maybe after his dad, Jay Hoggan. J2 has big boots to fill, and he’s doing it."
Best known for his Western-themed work, David Stoecklein has been a professional photographer since his 20s. But this Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-born shooter was not always horseback.
“Growing up, I always wanted to move West,” he says. “I skied in Colorado in high school and moved out here as soon as I could.” He gravitated towards ski photography and shot the sport’s best in the 1970s and ’80s. Outdoor industry catalog assignments followed, which led to ad campaigns for Jeep, Ford, Coca-Cola, and Copenhagen. A shoot for Marlboro introduced him to working cowboys, and the Western lifestyle soon became his life’s passion.
“Like all the writers, artists, poets, and songwriters who traveled West before me, I’m documenting my time,” he says. “I’m preserving and celebrating the West through my work.”
Today, Stoecklein lives in Ketchum, Idaho, where he’s run the Stoecklein Gallery for 20 years. He has a private catalog of 1 million slide images and 300,000 digital images, from which AC culled the following seven portraits.
“I treat them with respect,” he says of the cowboys he works with. “These guys are the real deal, and it shows in the photos.”
A father of three, Stoecklein and his wife also own the 440-acre Bar Horseshoe Ranch in Idaho’s Big Lost Mountains, where he hosts photography workshops and runs some cattle and roping steers. Stoecklein rides regularly and pitches in at brandings when his neighbors need a hand. Come fall, he packs his own horses and hunts for deer and elk.
“It’s all about the outdoors and enjoying it all,” he says.