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When I saw his website and looked around it was reminiscent of the Norman Rockwell covers on the Saturday Evening Post. In our interview we discussed these images and more to discover how an old-time cowboy moved from large format cameras to digital and continues to come up with new ways to grow his business with outstanding personalized service and top quality output for his clients.

From Ron’s website:

Ron McGinnis was born and reared in the hills of the Missouri Ozarks, surrounded by wildlife and wild places. In these surroundings Ron developed an eye for the beauty of both rural and natural settings. He grew up hunting, fishing, and participating in rodeo events.

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The son of a professional photographer, he was introduced to a camera at a fairly early age. He was tutored by his father and his father’s cousin, a Kansas City crime photographer, who was a master of fine art, and black and white photography. Between the two of them, they managed to teach him a thing or two about light and shadow, aperture settings and composition.


A college professor once told Ron, “If you don’t make a living as an artist you will starve to death.” Art has been his livelihood for most of his life. Whether it was as a sculptor, or his main profession as an award-winning marine artist, Ron has made a living doing what he does best: art.


Now with the latest in state of the art digital photography equipment, Ron is sharing his artistic eye with the viewing public. Ron’s photographs can be seen in homes and businesses, and in galleries for resale. Several of his photos have won awards, including Cowboys & Indians Magazine contests, and are used in magazine articles and on book covers.

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Show notes are just rough notes, phrases and sentences to give you some clues about what was discussed during the interview.


Ron’s Artist Website:

Facebook Page:

Ron’s email:

Started at 17

Father was a master photographer. Friend of Ansel Adams.

Still shoots with a the zone system. Started with a 8×10 large format camera.

Cameras are still a box and hole in it.

Raised around horses and cowboys all of his life.

Participated in rodeos.

Also does reproductions of marine life as part of his living (3-d sculptures). For museums and other. 75% of his career is photography.

Shooting kids growing up doing rodeo is rewarding.

His wife does the selling at computer table at the events. He does not print on site. He is very particular about quality of print work. BLACK RIVER Imaging does great work for him. Knows his lab people personally. Does a lot of 40×60 canvas wraps.

Like to shoot action events at low angles. Shoots from inside and outside of the arena depending on safety issues.

Will sometimes use wider lenses and low angles to capture a more dramatic. Mostly shoots with 70-200 f2.8. Have to be able to shoot action and some in evenings. Uses up to 8 speed-lights. Can turn on and off as needed. Sometimes he can just use higher ISO in a good night rodeo arena.

1/500 is the slowest shutter speed that he would use if not using a flash. Faster for some events.

Almost all rodeo events.

Art sales 50%  Average purchase is a 30×40 canvas  and framed images through fine art america. Some art shows. Art dealers. Facebook. A new image might get shared 50 times on Facebook.

Rodeos almost every weekend. Takes some shots from the events to create art images.  The contestants almost always purchase these images that he has created as a gallery wrap. His wife is showing the pictures from previous events which he has worked on during the previous week at the current show that he is shooting. Doesn’t usually sell online to keep people honest and keep them from stealing the images.

Grew up being a fan of Norman Rockwell and is pleased that we saw that in his work.

But, these shots are real life images of friends at a bunk house.

Nick Filters collections. Every image is different. Plays with things until he gets what he wants. Pops details that he wants to see and pushes back other things.

Rockwell looks. Likes back-lit images. Shoot to edit. Shoots only in manual mode.

Lightroom and layers in Photoshop with textures are the things he likes to work with.

Taking a mediocre shot and making it into something very good.

Something I figured out is that women run the horse industry, decorate the home, and buy the horse magazines.

Does quite a bit of teaching. Zen and the art of photography. Teaches the creativity aspects of photography (not the technical aspects of photography). People come from a 4-5 state region come in for a day or two. Doesn’t advertise it much. People call and ask.

Portraits, senior portraits 25% of his business. Shoot and edit pricing. Post processing all in about 2 hours.

I’m a pretty good photographer, but not that good of a business man.

Teaching people how to SEE is the hardest part of teaching others.

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Equine Photographers Podcast