Daily Picture Show

Documenting West Texas And Big Bend National Park

  • Evans found these goat skins hanging on a clothesline on a private ranch while rounding up burros to haul back to Marathon.
    Hide caption
    Evans found these goat skins hanging on a clothesline on a private ranch while rounding up burros to haul back to Marathon.
    Courtesy of James H. Evans
  • A six-man football team at the local park in Marathon flexing their muscles.
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    A six-man football team at the local park in Marathon flexing their muscles.
    Courtesy of James H. Evans
  • Evans was assigned to photograph Kickapoo Native Americans living in Nacimiento, Mexico — and to listen to, but not see or attend, a ceremonial dance for the women. These girls were dressed up for the celebration.
    Hide caption
    Evans was assigned to photograph Kickapoo Native Americans living in Nacimiento, Mexico — and to listen to, but not see or attend, a ceremonial dance for the women. These girls were dressed up for the celebration.
    Courtesy of James H. Evans
  • Judy Majers, known as "the Burro Lady," makes her way around the Big Bend region. Evans asked to take her portrait many times and she would kindly say, "No, thank you." After 19 years, she finally said yes.
    Hide caption
    Judy Majers, known as "the Burro Lady," makes her way around the Big Bend region. Evans asked to take her portrait many times and she would kindly say, "No, thank you." After 19 years, she finally said yes.
    Courtesy of James H. Evans
  • While living on a ranch, Evans spotted this bull snake curled up on the side of the road. He says that never in his 24 years of living there had he seen a snake do this.
    Hide caption
    While living on a ranch, Evans spotted this bull snake curled up on the side of the road. He says that never in his 24 years of living there had he seen a snake do this.
    Courtesy of James H. Evans
  • When Evans' landlady, Lucille French Clark, died, he documented each room in her house and brought in a critter from the desert, like this bull snake, to place in each room.
    Hide caption
    When Evans' landlady, Lucille French Clark, died, he documented each room in her house and brought in a critter from the desert, like this bull snake, to place in each room.
    Courtesy of James H. Evans
  • A portrait of author Cormac McCarthy.
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    A portrait of author Cormac McCarthy.
    Courtesy of James H. Evans
  • Artist Monte Schatz would keep reptiles, even venomous ones, for inspiration and let them roam free in the house.
    Hide caption
    Artist Monte Schatz would keep reptiles, even venomous ones, for inspiration and let them roam free in the house.
    Courtesy of James H. Evans
  • Evans says he wanted to make a portrait of artist Sally Brogden as a sculpture.
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    Evans says he wanted to make a portrait of artist Sally Brogden as a sculpture.
    Courtesy of James H. Evans
  • In Terlingua, Texas, there is an annual chihuahua dog race.
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    In Terlingua, Texas, there is an annual chihuahua dog race.
    Courtesy of James H. Evans
  • Evans took this photo after Ezekiel Hernandez, an American citizen, was shot and killed by a U.S. Marine on American soil while the Marines were patrolling the border. Evans had his assistant put on this ghillie suit — a type of full-body camouflage sometimes worn by military.
    Hide caption
    Evans took this photo after Ezekiel Hernandez, an American citizen, was shot and killed by a U.S. Marine on American soil while the Marines were patrolling the border. Evans had his assistant put on this ghillie suit — a type of full-body camouflage sometimes worn by military.
    Courtesy of James H. Evans
  • On Highway 90 between Marfa and Van Horn is where Evans has seen the best "dust devils." Evans saw this one and jumped out of the truck to capture it on film.
    Hide caption
    On Highway 90 between Marfa and Van Horn is where Evans has seen the best "dust devils." Evans saw this one and jumped out of the truck to capture it on film.
    Courtesy of James H. Evans

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Big Bend National Park lies in West Texas, surrounded by mountains and the Chihuahuan Desert. It's one of the least-visited national parks in the country, according to the National Parks Service.

For those simply passing through, it can be hard to capture the spirit of the place — which is why photographer James H. Evans moved there in 1988, and has never left.

Ocotillo panoramic

hide captionOcotillo panoramic

Courtesy of James H. Evans

"The big difference of living out here is that in the city the stars are on the ground, and here the stars are in the sky," Evans says over the phone.

Hallie and Dadie

hide captionHallie and Dadie

Courtesy of James H. Evans

After camping in the area a few times, Evans moved to Marathon, a small town of fewer than 500 people near the outskirts of the park. As much as the landscape moved him, he said he was mostly inspired by the people — ranchers, Kickapoo Native Americans, and the large Hispanic population who call West Texas home.

Evans' images capture the personalities and lifestyle of the people who live in one of the most vast and rural expanses of Texas — a group that has traditionally been underrepresented in documentary photography.

"A portrait is a personal shared moment between the subject and myself," says Evans, recalling one woman who embodied his idea of West Texan spirit. Hallie C. Stillwell, a local justice of the peace in Brewster County, lived to be 99 years old. A widow, she maintained a ranch for 40 years and performed weddings well into advanced age.

At one point, Stillwell suffered a minor stroke on the day she was supposed to perform a marriage. After being released from the hospital, she went straight to the ceremony. "[It] says so much about her character," Evans says. "Her spirit is what I am trying to maintain in my life."

Evans' first book, Big Bend Pictures, is a collection of black-and-white portraits shot on film. His latest book, Crazy from the Heat, takes a broader look at West Texas in both color and black and white. Landscape photos are scattered throughout the book, acting almost as a point of reference to remind the viewer of the vast wildness of the land.

Evans plans on staying in Big Bend for the rest of his life and continuing to document its tight-knit community. "We live as a big family, under the stars of one of the darkest skies in Texas," he says.

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