Several of those in attendance to hear Wymen Meinzer discuss the Waggoner Ranch legacy had a personal knowledge of the ranch. Most had an interest and for the uninitiated, a new world was opened up to them.
In front of the annual packed house for Profiles and Perspectives, Meinzer presented a dizzying array of photos, which touched on the history of the ranch as well as the present. The images were taken during research for a book he was commissioned to create on the ranch. During the presentation, Meinzer balanced the story of the ranch with behind the scene stories about individual pictures taken at the ranch, which is located near Vernon, Texas. In one instance, Meinzer remembered going to a location for three straight days in an attempt to get the shot he wanted.
Needless to say, he delivered.
Meinzer was raised on a ranch and it was only natural that his career has led him to capturing ranches through the camera lens. The Waggoner Ranch presented a vast challenge as it spans 525,000 acres and six counties. The ranch is made up of nine camps mainly consisting in the range of 34,000 acres and boasts 1,400 miles of dirt road.
To locate the areas of the ranch he wanted to photograph, Meinzer flew over the ranch, setting locations with GPS and also spoke with cowboys working the ranch to find unusual locations.
Meinzer was commissioned to take pictures in 2008 and was able to capture images of the ranch before the drought hit. Throughout his presentation, he would talk about a photo and discuss the changes that have taken place as a result of the drought.
"On the ranch, there is not one functioning windmill because there is no groundwater," Meinzer said. "I was there recently and there was a number of dry tanks, it was just sad."
Meinzer said there are 600 spot tanks on the ranch responsible for providing water for the cattle. The tanks are filled solely by rainwater. Because of the drought conditions, Meinzer said the ranch has had to ship cattle north.
One of the aspects of the presentation that Meinzer excelled in was the ability to bring photographs of old ruins to life for the audience. He talked about the use of light to add something to a photo and shared his thoughts when capturing a subject. One such photo was that of a tombstone of a woman who was died in 1890.
"It makes you think when you sit out there, listening to the wind, this woman buried out there all by herself," he said.
The final installment of Profiles and Perspectives is scheduled on April 9. Gentry Lee will be the featured speaker and will discuss the exploration of Mars.