We had the good fortune of connecting with Kate Williams and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kate, Let’s talk about principles and values – what matters to you most?
I’m a Wyoming girl and living and working for the ZN Ranch has changed me. I didn’t grow up on a ranch. It was a huge learning curve for me, but I’m happy to live where I do. I’m a ranch wife because I fell in love with a rancher. I know working on the ranch has helped me to be more resilient in my photography business. You learn right away that things rarely go as planned on a ranch. It is the same with family photo shoots and wedding photography. It helps to have a photographer who can remain calm and laugh through the unexpected. I have connected and created lasting friendships with many of my brides. I have one bride I struck up such a close friendship with we meet for lunch regularly. She plans to bring her one-year-old son out to the ranch for photos soon. I value capturing the continuation of someone’s story as the seasons of their life. This ranch is such a lovely place to raise a family. It’s these principles or values that I bring to each photoshoot…connection, warmth, kindness, hard work and laughing through the unexpected. These are all things I’ve had to learn to do as a ranch wife. We must be resilient and have a sense of humor or life would be dreary. Wyoming weather is so unexpected and branding meals rarely go as planned. The time frame and what I need to do changes daily. It is a part of ranching I really appreciate. We must be problem solvers. We must be willing to keep a good attitude and work hard even if things don’t go as planned. I always work hard for my clients. I expect them to value my time and effort. I like the reciprocal give and take that happens as an entrepreneur with clients who value my time and effort. I’m firm in how I price things because I do value the time I spend with my family and on the ranch. I no longer waver when I give my pricing. I think understanding our value and what our time if worth is a huge principle in business. It is not easy to remain firm in your pricing always. I’ve figured out how to do this through trial and error.

Yesterday evening as I turned off the highway onto our familiar county road looking through a very dusty windshield with cracks all through it, I saw the cows grazing. I saw the tint of green that finally appears after a very long winter. I watched the puffy clouds change shape as they passed over Sheep and Elk Mountain. I passed several sage chickens still strutting their stuff and slapping their wings at each other as they sized them up. It always makes me laugh to watch them slap at each other like they are in a British Comedy. Once I make it a couple of miles down the county road, I can see the row of Cottonwood Trees. I know I’m almost home. It has been such a lovely landmark all these years for me to see that row of Cottonwood Trees. I often will look out my window to see coyotes skedaddling away as fast as they can and then see an eagle flying high above. This morning we had a fresh dusting of snow and its almost the end of May. It is just another reminder of how unpredictable the weather can be for ranchers. The fresh snow and pile of crows and coyotes always reveal if there is calf that didn’t make it through the cold night. I appreciate nature and where I live, and it helps me to be more observant. This is something that an artist needs to practice daily. It is just so important to be observant, and ranching has helped me improve on this too. My husband grew up on a ranch and has observed nature and wildlife and domestic animals his whole life. It makes a person more observant and helps them learn to pay attention. He always tells our new hired hands that what separates a someone from mediocre help to the best help is how they pay attention to machinery, animals and nature. I know this constant reminder has helped me be more observant on a daily basis.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a photographer with a passion for storytelling. I love to write too. I hope to someday publish a book about ranch life in Wyoming. There is a harshness about this place that creates a unique way of living. I want to capture that with my camera and my words. I’ve been in business since I was hugely pregnant with my third son Dusty. I can’t believe it, but he turned 12 this year. That means twelve years of taking thousands and thousands of photographs and making thousands of mistakes along the way. I’ve never been too shy about making mistakes. It is just part of the process. My photography business also has coincided with raising four babies. I remember distinctly nursing my babies while editing photographs at the computer. I often had to find time at strange times to be able to be present with my family and the ranch while also finishing galleries. It was not easy. I just know anything worth doing is typically not easy. I remember shooting a wedding while battling mastitis since I had to leave my little girl home with Daddy while I traveled. I’ve learned that photography is not super glamorous. It is a lot of hard work and time management and time spent editing. I continue to tell stories because I’m passionate about memory keeping. I’ve changed my perspective over the years. I learned to not take it personally if someone didn’t hire me. I also find a lot of purpose and satisfaction helping on the ranch and raising my kids. We have lots of company and I love that too. My photography business is not all that I’m wrapped up in. It really helps me keep perspective when I don’t land a job. I want the world to know that telling stories is important. I’ve never once read a diary entry or journal of someone along the Oregon trail or Overland trail and thought ‘now why did they write that?” Why did they document that experience? I recently drove to Dubois, Wyoming to see my mom. We passed by so many awesome history signs along the way. We stopped at Split Rock and read about the Pony Express. We stopped at the Ice Slough to learn that pioneers used to stop there along the trail and found ice in July to put in their drinks. Can you imagine how exciting that would be in July in Wyoming? We stopped at Crowhart and learned about Chief Washakie and his battle. I will continue to share my story. I will continue to write about my experiences as a ranch wife on the ZN Ranch in Wyoming. I truly believe that sharing our stories is a gift and creates unexpected relationships with people. It brings a richness to our lives that is missed if we don’t document it.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Watching the Sun Rise on our porch 6 am Taking a ranger ride all around the ZN Ranch it is 25, 000 acres of amazing open land

View all of the different birds and wildlife on the ranch my mom recently went on a ranger ride and saw 30 different species of birds on the ranch plus we had 5 moose below our house

walk them out to the spot right below our house to see my favorite view
cook hamburgers on our grills outside and then go for a drive up to Sheep Mtn (on our property) to see the view up top

Head to Medicine Bow Peak only a 40 minute drive to hike
Eat at the Wolf in Town or Bella’s

We would drink coffee. We would grill steaks and hamburgers. I would make my homemade salsa with chips.

Our ranch is the most fun, interesting, exciting place to visit with some of the nicest people to meet.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband Chris. He is my best friend, and just such an inspiration to me. He is such a knowledgeable rancher. He is a steward of the land. He appreciates history. He is an active participant in conservation and preserving land for future generations and birds and wildlife. I appreciate his ranching knowledge. I recognize that I was very ignorant when I first came to the ranch about how much goes into taking care of land and animals. He is such an observant person.

He appreciates nature and is an amazing irrigator. He has taught me how to observe and appreciate the land. He has taught me how to hunt and be thankful for elk meat on the table to be able to feed our family. I enjoy actively participating in feeding our family now. These are all things that help me be a better photographer and storyteller. I know the ranch has taught me so many things. This ranching way of life would not be possible without my best friend Chris.

Website: http://therancherswifesphotography.com

Instagram: The Rancher’s Wife’s Photography

Facebook: The Rancher’s Wife’s Photography

Other: Tik Tok @therancherswifekate A present day diary of a ranch wife

Image Credits
Sarah Caldwell Photography for my image All the rest of the images I took The Rancher’s Wife’s Photography

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