Q&A: SANDY CARSON / “I’VE ALWAYS BEEN A COWBOY IN MY HEART” BOOK

Photographer, bike rider and witty Scotsman/Austinite Sandy Carson has a new photo book available, entitled I’ve Always Been a Cowboy in my Heart. Its 128 pages of casual, funny and interesting observations which span many years. Go HERE for more info and to order a copy.

We spoke to Sandy about the book, so click below for a Q&A and a few photos from the book.

Hey Sandy. Congrats on the new book. Is this your third solo photo book now?

Thanks Nuno. Yes, sir, the 3rd one.

Give us a quick breakdown of the concept/theme behind this new one. 

The book is basically a collection of photographs and observations I’ve accumulated from the last 12 years on the road whether it be by car, bike or foot around the states. Kinda a psychedelic visual diary of the absurd happenstances if you like, mostly of the southwest on my travels through the eyes of an outsider. It was originally inspired by the Bill Callaghan song ‘I’m New Here’ which was the old project title actually. After my publisher (Yoffy Press) took me under her wing, she recommended I change the name based on one of the photos I shot on the Fairdale Montana trip of a man looking onto the mountains wearing an I’VE ALWAYS BEEN A COWBOY IN MY HEART shirt. Its a pretty apt title after spending over half my life in Texas. Plus country music and cowboy hats are pretty ace and I cannot believe I’ve been in denial of them this whole time Hahah.

Was it always a plan to make a book like this, or was there something that clicked and brought it all together for you? An “a-ha” moment if you will.

Not really. I didn’t start with a project in mind, I don’t really work like that. I just collect memories and see where it goes. It just kinda (excuse the cliche) organically formed over the last few years as I had a ton of photos that had some recurring themes going through them that spoke to each other and at one point became a body of work. If you know what I mean.

Knowing your personality, I imagine that you get a chuckle out of the situations and scenes that you’ve shot and featured in this book. Is this observation accurate and sort of a pre-requisite of what makes a good photo to you?

I do get a chuckle at some of the scenes, sometimes disbelief. I’m always looking. Its just how I see the world and pick up on the weird I guess, whether it be in the states or wherever I am. Scottish humor is a feally hard trait to shakef. There quite a bit of humorous meditations in the book but I do think there’s quite a lot of sad and melancholic photos too, or ones that offer hope in not so cheery situations. I think good photos are honest ones. 

Are the photos mostly casual point and shoot style?

They are all shot as is, how I found them, aside from a couple that were out takes from a couple shoots with friends.

I’m guessing here, but are all the photos film? Or is it a mix?

All the photos in the book are shot on film aside from 5 that are digital.

Let’s get nerdy. I’m sure its varied, but what cameras and films did you use for these images. 

Oh man… everything from point 35mm n shoot to 4×5 large format. Tachihara 4×5, Mamiya 7, Hasselblad 501 cm, Contax t3, Yashica T4 & T5, Olympus Stylus & XA2, Nikon f100. Mostly shot on Kodak Portra neg film and whatever cheapo expired film I can get my paws on. Dig stuff is Nikon D600 & D850. I had to go through the book to look all these out, ha.


The photos in this book span 12 years. As a Scotsman whose lived in Texas for a bit now and has traveled all over the States, does America still bemuse you?

Sure but so does Scotland. I’m still and always trying to figure out my surroundings and life through looking, that’s why I take pictures to observe and understand. Life is a trip and photos help solve the puzzle, at least for me.


Has this project helped you draw any parallels between America and Scotland, or are both places completely different?

Good question. Both countries are completely different culturally and that’s where the project comes from. Being from somewhere else and having wide eyes on the road because of the contrast of growing up on another continent is what stemmed the project. Both can be similar sometimes though at least in mountainous terrain but not at all in cities and towns. America is like 6 countries all in one though, its hard to compare on vastness alone or diversity.

What would you like people to take away from this collection of photos?

I hope people take away a book, ha. Hopefully a laugh. I think we all need one these days. 

Thanks Sandy, anything you’d like to add before we wrap this?

Thanks for the wee interview, Nuno. If anyone wants a copy please hit up –igg.me/at/cowboyheart to pre-order a book, print or a shirt by the Land guys! Also wanted to thank Jennifer at Yoffy Press for believing in my work.

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