Photographer Sandy Carson Travels The American Southwest In 'I've Always Been A Cowboy In My Heart'

Sep 26, 2019

“How long do you need to be here before you’re actually Texan, right?” asks photographer Sandy Carson.

He was born in Scotland but moved to Texas in the '90s, so he’s now lived roughly half his life in the Lone Star State. “I suppose I’m a Scottish Texan by now, right? If you’re half and half?”

When Carson first moved to the U.S., he was a professional BMX rider and spent a lot of time travelling the country.

“I was shooting photographs for various BMX magazines in a documentary kind of style and that’s what got me into the kind of art photography I’m doing now,” Carson says. “So I was already on the road collecting images.”

A lot of the photos in his new book I’ve Always Been a Cowboy in My Heart were taken during Carson’s BMX years, and some were shot during  other road trips he took to explore his new country.

“So the content is spread out over 12 years,” Carson says, “basically all shot on road trips all around the states, mostly the Southwest. I’ve been collecting images and archiving them and I just saw a common thread through them.”

“It’s just a really vast place,” Carson says of the United States. “In Scotland, if you’re driving half an hour, it’s a big deal … but here, half an hour is nothing. It’s hard to put a dent in this country – it’s so big. I mean, you try to leave Texas, it takes you 10 hours.”

“On the road, it’s such a different culture,” Carson says. “There’s just a lot of really uncanny juxtapositions that present [themselves] on American road trips that you would never see in Scotland. And I really just pick up on that. I’ve been here for so long – I’ve been in Texas longer than I [lived] in Scotland – but I still feel there’s a lot to see. And I still feel like my eyes are really still wide open to what I’m picking up on here, and that’s just kind of where the project came from.”

"I've Always Been a Cowboy in My Heart" is available now through Yoffy Press. Sandy Carson will speak and sign copies of the book this Saturday, Sept. 28 at 5 p.m. at BookPeople.