One Small Voice
by Laura McGaffey
Articles originally published in "The Voice in the Desert"
Sunsites-Pearce, Arizona

"It's Not the Camera, It's the Photographer"
Dirk Cowart, Earthtones Photography

October 2012

Some professional photographers still insist that excellent photographs can only be attained by using expensive large-format film cameras. Dirk Cowart on the other hand entered the high technology world of digital cameras years ago and his work proves, once again, that “it’s not the tools, it’s the craftsman” that creates beauty and quality.

Dirk, who is now 41, was born in the Silicon Valley, and by junior high school, he owned and programmed a personal computer that predated both the IBM PC and the first Apples. He was the grandson of a computer scientist who worked with the “two Steves” of Apple Computer in their garage workshop so Dirk grew up aware of the ever-changing trends in high technology. During years of study and a decades long career as a photography lab technician, a photography assistant, and photographer, he kept his eyes on the increasingly complex but expensive digital cameras offered by various manufacturers. He recognized that being able to save photos directly from a digital camera to computer media would be most advantageous to his clients. Therefore, when the ratio between cost and quality was right he purchased a digital single lens reflex camera. A DSLR costs only a few thousand dollars as opposed to the large-format film cameras that still go for upwards of $30,000.00 and more, without lenses. Professional photographers must pass the high costs of film and film processing incurred when using a large-format film camera on to their clients.

Dirk took his first photography class in junior high school. Years later in college in Long Beach, California, while seeking a course to fill out his class roster, he encountered a friend who worked on the school newspaper. Dirk joined the paper as a photographer and his first assignment turned into the “photo of the week”. Dedicating himself to learning everything about photography, he spent several years studying Color Theory, Commercial Photography, Photojournalism, and Photo Lab Technique.

“Photography is my passion. You can meet me on Facebook.

Stop by and get to know me and my camera.

Photography is more than just a paycheck to me. It is a part of my life.”

-- Dirk Cowart,

The Artist’s Den inside Margies’s Café in Sunsites and the Senior Enrichment Center at the hospital in Willcox have both spotlighted Dirk’s beautiful digital photography on their walls and decreed him their “artist of the month”. I urge you to go to his website at to admire the many examples of his work there. You will see the breadth of his skill; examples of photos in his “Weddings”; “People and Personalities”; “Commercial”; “Architectural”; “Portraits from the Past”; “Abstracts and Unique Ideas”; “Natural Beauty”; “Stormy Skies”; “Earth and Sky”; “Water and Life”; and “Critters and Creepy Crawlies” galleries.

The owners of the Lake Roberts Motel in Mimbres, New Mexico had met Dirk in Sunsites and called on him to spend three days photographing their motel for their website. Go to to see the fantastic results.

“Dirk lives in Southeastern Arizona now but has lived all over the west coast. As a boy, he and his mother lived in Baja where he learned to speak Spanish. He was educated in Long Beach, California and he still loves his skateboard!

“Dirk is a kind person who has a talent for making people feel comfortable while having their picture taken.

“Feel free to contact Dirk at any time and for any job. There is a 'contact us' page available on the top menu of his website at If you would like to speak to Dirk over the phone, you can message him there.”

-- Belle Wright, webmaster

“Photography has been a staple in my life since childhood, being raised around artists and creative souls. …

“My goal is to produce photographs that reveal the inner beauty of the life and people around us. As a portrait photographer, I try to draw in the natural surrounding of a person to create their story, not just a picture.

“I moved into the professional lab industry where I was introduced to assisting professional photographers. I, then, began to work with many great photographers. To name a few, Nigel Perry, Francois Robert and Tom Spitz. One of the jobs I cherished the most was having the pleasure of being first assistant to Mr. Joe McNally. I also am a member of the Tucson, AZ chapter of ASMP. (American Society of Media Photographers)

I am very grateful especially to Tom Spitz, with whom I worked for 5+ years on many very diverse assignments. All were on location and many took us all over the West. Some of the most valuable lessons that I will always remember and use I learned from working with Tom.

“I am Dirk Cowart, Photographer, and if you need to market your product or just make a memory last forever you can trust me.”

-- Dirk Cowart,