COWBOY WITH A CAMERA IN LOVE WITH AMERICA
Don’t let the hat fool you, I am only half, well maybe 3/4, cowboy. Part of me likes wearing ball caps and Eddie Bauer shirts with my Wrangler cowboy cut jeans. I enjoy hanging out at art museums, skiing, the ballet, a little rock and roll, and listening to small amounts of classical music to go along with every George Strait album ever made. I can ride and rope with the best of them. I have been known to quote Shakespeare, Thomas Jefferson, C.S. Lewis, and, on occasion, words only spoken to ignorant cattle. I love old family traditions and live the dream that is the embodiment of the American West.
My American story started in 1728, when my Grandfather, the Reverend John Roads, settled the Shenandoah River Valley of Virginia. In a cabin along that river, they would whisper the ideas of Liberty, Freedom, and self governance. Forty-Eight years later the Ivie side of my family would pick up their guns and fight for those dreams out loud. With the birth of a new Republic, these dreams would be carried west by my ancestors. In 1848, my Grandmother Harris would journey 2,000 miles, barefoot, to establish her dream of Zion, a place of refuge and peace. In her new mountain valley home the dreams of generations would live on in faith and hard work. Resting inside of me is the culmination of those hopes, dreams, and sacrifice.
Today in the Ivie home, we rise with the sun, check the news, and head out the door to feed, train, and care for our horses. Nestled in the farming community of Benjamin, our American dream is still rooted in the land, faith, and hard work. We strive to breed, raise, and train high end performance horses. I’ve had the great fortune of being the only Utah based reining horse trainer to make the upper level finals and place in the top ten at the National Reining Breeders Classic, the most competitive reining horse show in the world. I have also been fortunate enough to win an AQHA and APHA world championship. However, my greatest professional success has never come with a title or award, it has come in the quiet hours spent in the saddle, creating a magical connection with a horse, when no one is watching or handing out prizes. Trophies collect dust, improvement is eternal.
If I am not on a horse, I am taking pictures. Ideally I am on a horse, in the middle of nowhere, taking pictures. In addition to my work on the ranch, I am also a wedding and nature photographer. As a graduate of the New York Institute of Photography, where I received the prestigious “Award of Merit” for my work, I photograph light and love. From couples to the vast beauty of God’s creation, I work to capture the light that shines from within things, using the light shining upon them. My work has been featured in blogs, such as LDS Bride, printed in national publications, and awarded by weddings.com as a “best of Utah Wedding Photographer”. In my photography, just like with my horses, there is more to my work. When I create an image that inspires someone to do good, to be more, find comfort, or remember love, I have accomplished my goal as an artist. Being able to do the things I love, and pay my bills at the same time, is great. Helping individuals is the true reward for me. As someone who has experienced years with a healthy savings account and some years with just pennies in checking, I have discovered happiness is found in the pursuit, not the amount of money in the bank.
I’m living the American dream, so why am I so involved in politics? That question is easy to answer, and has four legs and two heart beats. I call them Philip and McKylie, my children. I mentioned earlier that inside of me live the dreams of generations. I carry the lamp of liberty lit by my ancestors. At some point, we either have to hide that lamp or place it out where the world can benefit from its light. I am setting that light on a hill, just as my father and mother have, along with countless other generations. This is to ensure that our children can benefit from our sacrifice for freedom.
In the end I am a man of faith, and hope to be remembered as such. But you could just say I am a cowboy with a camera, in love with America.