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Cowgirl Akimbo

Cowgirl Akimbo, Summer, San Marcos, New Mexico 2014  Photograph by ©Craig Varjabedian

Cowgirl Akimbo, Summer, San Marcos, New Mexico 2014 Photograph by ©Craig Varjabedian

A K I M B O.

I like the sound of the word. Arms akimbo is a body position in which the hands are on the hips and the elbows are bowed outward, or bent or simply bowed. Legs apparently can be akimbo too with the knees bent and spread widely apart. I remember first encountering the word in a description of a beguiling Edward Weston portrait of Charis Wilson at Lake Ediza written by Charis herself.

I made this photograph during a private portrait workshop back in the early Fall, presented for a good photographer from Denver. The location, my friend Clint’s ranch, was chosen in advance for its varied photographic possibilities and its authenticity. When we arrived I noticed a collection of well-used ropes hanging on the wall being illuminated by beautiful light raking through the open door to the stable. A possible photograph materialized in my mind’s eye. 

Our subject, Graciela arrived on the set having just changed her clothes in an adjacent room. She stands where you see her in the photograph and naturally (magically!) places her hands in the small of her back. I ask her to drop her head slightly and glance out the door. As she obliges the photographer, her right foot turns naturally and her heels meet. She stands there beautifully—akimbo.

The light, the setting and the natural movements of the subject all combine to create this perfect quintessential moment. The shutter is released and the moment, in all of its beauty and detail, is captured—frozen in time.

Canon 5D Mark II | Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L lens | Adobe Photoshop CC 2014 | onOne Perfect Photo Suite 9

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CRAIG VARJABEDIAN is an award-winning photographer who explores the back roads of the American West, making pictures of the unique and quintessential. He shares awe-inspiring stories of the land and the people who live on it . . . one photograph at a time.