Barbara Van Cleve's Photography

Barbara Van Cleve’s photography is more than photos of the West. It is a poetic collection of images that exhibit the wildlife, the lifestyle, the people, and the changing landscape of the West.

Barbara’s passion for photography sprouted as a young girl when she received a Brownie Junior camera for her 11th birthday. Since then, it has followed her throughout her life. However, it wasn’t until 1980 that she decided to hone in on her craft and dedicate her time entirely to photography. From that point on, Barbara has devoted her career to capturing the grit and beauty of the American West. Now, Barbara has an extensive collection of photographs in public and private collections worldwide. Although Barbara has earned the status of ‘Famous Western Photographer,’ she still considers herself a conduit of art that allows others to see the West through her eyes. Click here to read about Barbara’s techniques. 


The Blue Door Gallery in Livingston, Montana, is opening with limited edition prints of Barbara’s photography. To explore more, click here.

Barbara's Technique

Barbara only takes one shot of each scene she is photographing. 

Barbara learned this skill at a young age after acquiring her first camera. At that time, she had to be very selective about what she shot and how many photos she took due to the cost of printing her photos. She says, ‘Even today, I take one shot of everything. All I want is that one shot’.

Barbara captures the majority of her images on horseback.

Barbara prefers this unique method because she can get around effortlessly and swiftly. Being on horseback also allows her some extra height. This technique gives Barbara’s photos a rare perspective that enables her to truly gift the viewer the opportunity to see the West through her eyes.

Barbara credits her skill to her father and a humanities course.

Barbara’s father taught her to notice the spectacular sights in nature, from the mirages in January to clouds of ice flakes in the snow light by the morning light.

A humanities course in college taught Barbara how to see in terms of composition and design by studying art throughout history.