“[…]Karoliina Paatos spent the last seven years shooting poetic images of cowboy culture in the Western part of the United States, specifically in Nevada, Idaho and Oregon. Through her photographs, we immediately understand that there’s much more behind the stereotyped portrait of the solitary man, the heroic loner. Paatos conveys how hard it is for the last family-owned ranches to persist in an era when big companies hold a virtual monopoly on both land and agricultural production.
Still, to dive into her book is to sweetly, if briefly, reconnect with a community that feels somehow familiar. At the same time, her images allow us to get closer to grasping this mythical subject’s real complexity and tragic, contemporary beauty.
Magisterially shot, immense, melancholic landscapes alternate with intense portraits and intimate interiors. The rhythm of the narrative is masterfully paced, drawing us inexorably through the pages of the volume.[…]” – from the Lensculture book review by Winifred Chiocchia
Gordan Sarson –
I came across American Cowboy at Vienna Photo book Festival thinking of a book filed with already known clichés. Beside wonderful portraits and landscapes of the American West, it brings a series of stills that opens up infront of the viewer life of different generations of cowboys. Especially the narrative around the younger generation hides a potentialy interesting story. I truly admire the ability of a photographer to step into the life of closed societies and gain their trust without such result would not be possible. The book has bottleful narrative and I hope that this topic will soon become a sequel.
Marjan Krebelj –
I can divide my photographic process in different ways. One of them happens when the discovery of a photographer catches me so unprepared that he or she almost completely changes or re-formes my experience of this medium. The discoveries of such books are the doors that lead from virtual saturation, the feeling when you almost do not know where else to go to creatively and you feel that you have already seen everything. I can list these special moments of discovery on the fingers of one hand and they are always accompanied by a thrill in my hands, flickering through the book, and wide open eyes that cannot get enough of this new dimension. One of these books was American Cowboy by Karolina Paatos. She confirmed my faith in a photographic work based on the one side on simplicity, and on the other, on technical perfection (which of course are just two expressions of the same thing). In a period of media crowding, where many photographers compete in the spectacularity of hyperrealism, this is the real pearl of a mature, deep and complete photography. There should be more such works! I strongly recommend this book to all lovers of this art.
Andrew Phelps –
In American Cowboy, KP dove into the lives of a rural ranching family, beautifully combining portraits, still-lives and landscapes to tell the story of the challenges and the rewards of living close to the land. With the intimacy that one would expect from a family member, Karoliina has managed, in longer visits over several years, to find a way to break down the barriers of being an “outsider”. The cowboys of my childhood were a wild bunch; dusty, rough and alone, not the mythical heroes riding across my TV screen or adorning the billboards along the highway. Karoliina and her protagonists, who have carved out a life in the wide expanse of western high plains of Nevada, Idaho and Oregon, take us on a sometimes romantic, sometimes brutal, always authentic ride.
One of the best books of the last few years, American Cowboy is a successful combination of slow-journalism meets personal wonder; a constellation that seldom works.
Irina Kholodna –
The book “American Cowboy” by Karoliina Paatos documents the life of modern cowboys at different levels: ethnical, geographical, psychological, social. But what attracts me most is the author’s poetical view. I like the beauty of the light and colours, and there are some landscapes and portraits that I really admire.
The book has an interesting layout. It cleverly shifts your attention and prevents monotony, which is indeed important for a book of this size.
The pictures are beautifully printed. The warm tint of the paper supports the general mood of the book. Personally, I would have chosen different colours and texture for the cover, but this is my only complaint about this otherwise interesting and well designed book.