When Lindsay Linton Buk was growing up she was certain she would never have a career in her home state.
The Powell native fled to Los Angeles to pursue dancing dreams, then returned to attend photography school. After school it was a cross-country move to New York City, but now she’s back in Jackson Hole doing the best work of her career.
“I would never thought I would be this creatively challenged living in Wyoming,” she said.
That realization led Linton Buk to explore other achievers in the state, specifically women, in her podcast and photography series, “Women in Wyoming.” With one chapter, “Breaking Boundaries,” already released, and a second chapter due out this month, Linton Buk is chasing wonder women across the state, trying to understand how people not only survive, but thrive, in the modern rural West.
Personal project, universal themes
“I’m interested in telling these universal stories or sparks that live within us all,” she said. “Which is listening to what’s around you, listening to what you need, saying yes to these opportunities that come about that you’re not necessarily even thinking of or are part of your plan, and then taking action.”
The result of Linton Buk’s action is a five-part podcast and portrait series that, when done, will multiply to 25 profiles, five sets fitting into different themes.
Linton Buk started the project when she moved to Jackson in 2013, but it took three years to get it off the ground as she was simultaneously starting her own photography studio and building a portfolio of commercial work.
In 2016 the project restarted, with Linton Buk traveling from Jackson to Cheyenne, back north to the Wind River Reservation, then over to Powell and a few places between.
“I knew it was not going to be a simple thing,” she said. “I knew it was going to take time and resources and money and just wasn’t going to happen overnight.”
Pictures and words
The year and half has been time well spent. Besides telling untold stories, receiving grants from Womentum, the Center of Wonder, the Wyoming Humanities Council and other entities, the endeavor has allowed Linton Buk to learn more about herself as a photographer and artist.
“Part of my inspiration for doing this project was because I had been shooting commercially for six or seven years, and I got to this point where it was, ‘If I didn’t have a client’s vision to deliver, what do I want to say?’” she said. “I didn’t know because I hadn’t worked on a personal series in a really long time. Going back to this project, I’m just in it, and I’m just committed to trying and finding answers.”
This project marks the first time Linton Buk is shooting with film, not digital, a process both terrifying and rewarding. She said while film “adds a layer of physicality” she’s also traveling long distances to spend time with strangers who have grown to trust her, and results are mandatory.
“It’s going beyond that extra mile and pushing the boundaries of what I want to create,” she said. “I am loving the results.”
The podcast features audio interviews with the subjects Linton Buk photographs. Audio was never part of the original plan but came out of the power released when her subjects tell their own stories. Each has hundreds of listens on SoundCloud alone.
“Now that I look back I’m so glad I created [the podcast] because there’s something so powerful — about women especially — just having that microphone and telling your own story,” Linton Buk said. “Saying ‘My voice matters and it’s important, and here’s what I have to say.’
“I love that the project is becoming this collective platform for these women to tell their stories in their voices.”
Each chapter will have a theme like “Breaking Boundaries.” For Chapter 2 the focus is on the rural residents of the Equality State, with the title “Filling The Void.”
Linton Buk said each subject informs her next, and she tries to offer variety in location, career and age. But with each the goal is to both share and inspire, especially for Chapter 2, which features more unknown subjects.
“I really wanted Chapter 2 to be more of a contrast to that, to be more unsung heroines that you haven’t necessarily heard of and that came from — what you could call — these rural voids or pockets and either filling a need or opportunity in their community or addressing a need or opportunity in their community or themselves.”
Linton Buk said she specifically chose women because she was looking to learn from them.
“There are different challenges women face,” she said. “I’ve always wanted it all. I want the great marriage, I want the great career, I want a family, and I think it’s just a little bit more complicated for women than it is for men. I wanted to know, from my peers, how they were doing it all, whatever that meant for them.”
Chapter 1 premiered in October. To celebrate, Linton Buk had a small party at Tayloe Piggott Gallery, assuming that the only attendees would be her friends and family. Instead the place was packed, and she spent the night meeting person after person inspired by the project.
It was then, overwhelmed in the middle of the gallery, that Linton Buk knew the project would continue through at least five chapters.
“It was such a cool moment because you create these things and they are your heart and your soul and come from this deep place you don’t understand,” she said. “But putting it out there in public and just seeing that response and feeling it in person was a very powerful moment. To keep going and realize there is a need for these stories and I have to keep doing them because people need to see and hear them.”