“Authentic” is an on-the-nose description of Arizona rancher Kathy McCraine’s images and stories, which she has been publishing professionally for more than three decades. With her husband Swayze, the McCraine’s own and operate the Campwood Cattle Company and its nearly 134,000 acres, 1,200 cows, 600 stockers, and four ranches—including the well-known 7 Up Ranch—not to mention a ranch horse operation, since those 134,000 acres are rough enough to still require a horse, and a sure-footed one at that.McCraine was born into ranching, growing up first on the Verde River, helping her dad work his small herd of Herefords and riding horses and swimming with her brother.
“My mother never made me help with the housework or cooking, so I took full advantage of that freedom,” McCraine recalls.
It was a freedom that allowed her to discover her artistic knack, designing handmade newspapers by the age of 9 that she would then send to her grandparents, informing them of ranch happenings. In another 9 years or so, she was studying journalism at the University of Arizona when she discovered her interest in photography.
“I am devoted to documenting ranching, cowboys, cow horses, and the unique Western life I have been fortunate enough to have lived,” McCraine says. “Despite the fact that we have many modern conveniences now that facilitate our work, on large, rough-country ranches like ours, most of the work is still done horseback, just as it has been for more than 100 years.”