Nicole Johnston’s photography will be on display at the Quesnel art gallery until April 29. (Cassidy Dankohcik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

Nicole Johnston’s photography will be on display at the Quesnel art gallery until April 29. (Cassidy Dankohcik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

Cowboys and Cowgirls focus of Quesnel art exhibit

Nicole Johnston’s photos feature ranchers, riders and rodeos

The photographs on display at the Quesnel Art Gallery in April have more risk than is apparent at first glance.

Nicole Johnston was able to get up close and personal with team ropers while photographing rodeo events, with a steer and horses barrelling right at her and her camera.

“There were a few near-death experiences, I’m not going to lie,” Johnston said, laughing. “I’m fairly young, I’m able to get out of there if I need to. It’s a risk you take, but the images I get are awesome.”

The gallery is displaying ‘The Cowboys and Cowgirls of the Cariboo’ from April 8 – 29. The exhibit is made up of Johnston’s photographs of ranchers, ranching and rodeos.

“I’ve always been involved in the western lifestyle, I’ve ridden horses my entire life, I lend naturally to this culture,” she said. “When I moved to Quesnel I noticed it’s still part of the culture here.”

Johnston said ranching in the Cariboo is a snapshot in time.

“The way they do things on ranches here is much the same as it has been for the past 100 years or so,” she said. It was a story I wanted to tell and I wanted to make people aware these things are happening in our backyard.”

Johnston has even gone to ranches and taken photographs from the back of her own horse.

“If it showed an aspect of the culture I hadn’t shown before, that was how I determined what would be included (in the show),” she said. “I’m hoping going forward I’ll get barrel racing and rough stock as well. I’d love to be behind the chutes at rodeos.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt to Johnston’s usual bookings of family photos.

“I’ve been able to pursue my personal projects which are near and dear to my heart,” she said. “I’ve got another project on the go, ‘At the Water’s Edge.’ I’ve travelled all over the province flying my drone over waterways and taking pictures from the air… You can do those projects without being close to people.”

A book featuring some of the photos on display will be available for sale partway through the month.

READ MORE: Quesnel Art Gallery prepares for full 2021 schedule

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