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Photofile 07.22: South Dakota, Portraits and Clothes
A monthly retrospective via my camera lens.
Wouldn’t ya know, I’ve purchased a ticket to ride a train that’s already left the station. Our lord and savior Instagram is dead. Asphyxiated by the tether of TikTok’s algorithm, no longer does the platform serve as a useful tool for sharing photography, and thus the time has come to find another.
The good news is that alternatives like Substack and Patreon already exist—and I’m here to say I am all-in on the ‘Stack. Ad-free and user-curated; paid subscriptions or not, the choice is yours. It’s the “I like what you’re doing” model. No more sacrificial lambs. You either like my shit or you don’t have to see it. This, too, is life.
So here goes the first monthly photo retrospective with a small side serving of words. I do hope you enjoy.
Fourth of July weekend. Alex and I joined her dad, Lonnie, at the Wakpamni Lake Annual Powwow, hosted by the Olgala band of the Lakota tribe on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. It took us two days to get there and we drove my truck. In the car it was me, Alex, Dana (Lonnie’s girlfriend), and Cowboy. We left Los Angeles on Thursday morning and spent the first night in Provo, Utah, and we reached the reservation just after 6pm on Friday.
We slept in the wagon cabin and began each morning with a flag raising ceremony accompanied by communal breakfast that included biscuits and gravy. The days were hot and with little shade, the mosquitoes were voracious, and the experience was one of authenticity and one I shall never forget.
But for respect of the tribe’s traditions, I will not be sharing photos from the first evening when we witnessed the honoring of veterans and those dearly departed within the community. This was followed by naming ceremonies for several Oglala youths, a gift-giving ceremony, and then there came the drums and dancing, all of which lasted until the next storm rolled through and cut our night short of the scheduled fireworks show.
But day two was a public event and it was all about the horse races. It started with children on donkeys and then transitioned to short-distance sprints, followed by long-distance laps, and in the end we were treated with a relay race where most riders rode bareback. It was nothing short of a spectacle.
Unfortunately, Alex had to get back to work on the actual 4th of July, so we dropped her at Rapid City airport and left Dana with Lonnie to accompany him on his own drive back. That left just me and Cowboy to face the road home.
We did it in three days and some highlights of our stops along the way included seeing Crazy Horse monument and Devil’s Tower in Wyoming.
For the remainder of the month, while Alex was in Europe for work, I spent my time actively pursuing opportunities with photography.
The first work I had was for a couple friends who started a clothing company and asked me to shoot photos for their launch. It’s a vibe shift from what I usually shoot, but it was good to get into a studio space for the first time and now I realize how different it is shooting people rather than mountains.
I have a lot to learn, but the path I’m standing on feels right for the first time. I went to film school with a dream of being behind the camera and now it seems I have finally come full-circle, only this time on terms of my own.
So yeah, that was July. I have two photoshoots this upcoming week and then we are off to Italy. Should be a good month for the camera.
For more photos, follow me on the Titanic: Instagram.com/conktales
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