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2013-07-11

Photographer, conservationist, rancher now Texas hero

By Mary Allyce Special to the Courier

David K. Langford wears many hats in his career as a naturalist, wildlife and western artistic photographer, rancher and conservationist, but each and every one is Texas western.

When Bandera's Frontier Times Museum inducts Langford into the Texas Heroes Hall of Honor as part of the National Day of the American Cowboy celebration on Saturday, July 27, it acknowledges his deep roots in Texas, which he credits with informing his art.

"Texas is unique," he said. "Even the cowboys look and dress different here - more like vaqueros. It makes a niche in the market."

Langford's "niche" is a large and highly awarded one. He received the "People's Choice" award which he calls an "Oscar equivalent." Consistently ranked by the Texas Outdoor Writers' Association, he received National Addy Awards (American Advertising Federation) accolades from American West magazine, the International Wildlife Foundation, and is only the second person to receive the Harvey Weil Professional Conservationist Award. The Images For Conservation Fund's second book was dedicated to him, an honor he treasures as the first book was dedicated to none other than Lady Bird Johnson.

A graduate of UT, Austin in 1968 in marketing, Langford's been published worldwide in magazines like The Smithsonian, Western Horseman, Texas Highways and Field and Stream. This October brings the release of "Hillingdon Ranch: Four Seasons, Six Generations," which he wrote with Laurie Woodward Cantu. Published by Texas A&M University Press, the book is a tribute to the (Giles) family ranch on which Langford still lives.

"I've really had a couple of careers," he admitted, referring to his leadership in the Texas Wildlife Association since 1986. He still functions as an vice president emeritus with the association and concentrates on far-reaching water, tax and conservation issues. As a TWA representative, Langford has testified before Congress, the Texas State Legislature, appeared on TV and radio and presented educational programs for innumerable groups on conservation matters.

Langford's highly decorated career as a photographer also celebrates his love of the land, its people and wildlife and has brought him international recognition. His vision of photography as art has led his work to exhibitions at the Sportsman's Gallery in Houston, Collector's Covey in Dallas and the Southwest School of Art and the Witte Museum in San Antonio, among many others.

He currently exhibits at San Antonio's renowned Western Art Show becoming the first photographer accepted in this traditionally painter- and sculptor-driven exhibition. Langford's work can be found closer to home at Wildgoose in Ingram and High's in Comfort.

He and his wife, Myrna, live on the six-generation family ranch between Comfort and Fredericksburg. They have two children and four grandchildren, one of whom, granddaughter Lilliian P. Russell, following in her grandfather's footsteps, took the accompanying photo.

Of his inclusion in the 2013 Texas Heroes Hall of Honor, he referenced former Texas Heroes J. Frank Dobie, Red Steagall, Bill Pickett, Joaquin Jackson and fellow photographer, Wyman Meinzer, saying, "It's a privilege to be in this company!"

Pictured: Photo by Lillian P. Russell
David K. Langford