Pickaxing Through The Wild West
by Maria Luci
When you’re looking for a photographer to capture the spirit of the great outdoors, Forest Woodward is your man. I mean, come on, his name is Forest… Woodward… So yes, he’s adept at tackling adventurous assignments, and in his own words “isn’t afraid to get dirty.” It was this passion for nature along with his photography style that caught the eye of Jenny Spencer, founder of Agloves, a touch screen gloves company. Jenny previously hired him to shoot images to help brand their very first gloves. This time, she wanted him to shoot a campaign that would launch their new heavy duty line. The creative brief was just two words: Marlboro Man.
Forest immediately took on the assignment, which turned out to be one heck of a wild ride. Other than the direction to invoke the essence of the historic tobacco cowboy, Forest was given almost complete creative freedom. And so, he set out from Missoula, Montana on a cold October morning with just two other men: Jacob Midgett, an art director and designer at Agloves, and David Hancock, their model, horse whisperer, and in Forest’s opinion “one of the last men who was cut from the stone of the Old West frontiersman.”
The trio roamed the back roads and woods of Montana, “intent on finding what’s left of the rugged soul of the American West.” They made their way through snowy mountains, aspen glens, past old railroad tracks and mine shafts. On their second day, they saddled up, covering ground on horseback. David was an absolute natural on the horse, and even though it’d been awhile since his last ride, within ten minutes of saddling up he was “totally in his element.” Seeing how well he connected with the animal, Forest had David ford a 100-foot wide section of river. It was there that he captured his favorite image of the trip, David atop his splashing horse. “I don’t know many models who I would have been comfortable asking to do that,” Forest says, “but that’s why we picked David. He’s the real deal.”
The trip was incredibly productive, with Forest returning with a beautiful library of images for Agloves. Their art director Jacob puts the assignment into perspective best, saying:
We hit the road for two short days with nothing but a cowboy hat, a pickaxe, and a dream. We ate when we got hungry, slept when we were tired and found some of the most amazing locations in the world to photograph David with his Agloves. Did we succeed? Well, that’s for you to decide. All I know is that we found a piece of the Old West out there. I am just glad we have some of the photographs to prove it.
The Agloves team loved the photos and are now using them on their website and will be incorporating them in their print ads and posters. Forest adds that the Agloves team was a pleasure to work with and were generous with their praises, adding,
I don’t know if it makes a difference that it’s an all woman run company, but after delivering them a heap of photos of David pickaxing, horse riding, wood choppin’, and swashbuckling his way through Montana, well I guess you could say they were pretty happy.
Forest concludes that the shoot was an eye opener for him, allowing him to see that commercial product assignments can be both soulful and original. His one disappointment? “Despite having David swing his pickaxe in over twenty locations, we didn’t find any gold.” But it was still one of the most fun shoots he’s been on in a long while.
View more of Forest’s work at forestwoodward.com.