Marfa, Texas, USA – 2020
It’s “Happy Hour” and yet everyone in this photograph looks fairly short of happiness - but of course that was my instruction. The less levity, the more the sense of a foreign land. Marfa is foreign land to most of us.
The Lost Horse Saloon Bar in the town is well known - in no small part because the legendary Anthony Bourdain filmed here during his “Parts Unknown” series. He chose well - it has depth to it, both literally and metaphorically. The owner, Tye Mitchell, is also the real deal and often brings his horse to the bar. He is no Bianca Jagger and the Lost Horse Saloon is no Studio 54 - but this is Texas, not Manhattan and horses at bars don’t seem that incongruous. It almost goes with the territory.
When we photograph in bars in America, there tends to be a couple of commonly used tactics. Firstly, we tend to have an open bar and secondly, we also take control of that bar and ask anyone that is not right for the picture to sit behind the camera - albeit beer or whisky in hand. Everyone has to earn their right to be included.
This picture was taken around 11pm and the bar bill was already in excess of $2000 and asking politely for everyone to listen and be compliant was only going to become more and more of a challenge. That’s where Ty came in handy - he bosses his bar with some authority.