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Originally from Scotland, Carson emigrated to the US in 1993, aged 21, to pursue a career as a professional BMX rider. He spent 15 years travelling the world on sponsorships, and, during these long journeys, Carson began making photographs. “I was shooting whatever, wherever I was on the road,” he says. Carson originally wrote and shot photographs for BMX titles, before gradually turning his attention to documentary photography.

The images in Carson’s latest book, I’ve Always Been a Cowboy in My Heart, were made on the road over the last 12 years. “I didn’t set out to start this project. When I first moved here, I was always collecting and archiving pictures as memories,” he explains. “There was a common thread running through them.”

© Sandy Carson
© Sandy Carson

In I’ve Always Been a Cowboy in My Heart, Carson captures humorous and unexpected moments among what can be the mundane, everyday realities of travelling across the US. “It is kind of my view of the States and travel,” says Carson. “Even after 20-odd years, I still have wide eyes travelling around the States. There are so many uncanny juxtapositions that catch my eye.”

While some of Carson’s images are reminiscent of the quintessential American road trip photography of the greats like Stephen Shore and William Eggleston, the series was not directly inspired by this genre. “Your pictures are a portrait of yourself; whatever I’m shooting I’m going to put my own spin on it,” says Carson. His own experiences and personality are embodied in the photographs, particularly through a series of postcards, which Carson wrote to his family back in the UK. They outline some of the most memorable anecdotes from his time travelling across the US. 

I’ve Always Been a Cowboy in My Heart by Sandy Carson is published by Yoffy

© Sandy Carson
© Sandy Carson
© Sandy Carson
© Sandy Carson
© Sandy Carson
Marigold Warner

Marigold Warner joined the British Journal Photography in April 2018, and currently holds the position of Online Editor. She studied English Literature and History of Art at the University of Leeds, followed by an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London. Her work has been published by titles including the Telegraph Magazine, Huck, Gal-dem, Disegno, and the Architects Journal.

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