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‘Nodding Donkeys’: Photos of Decorated Oil Pumps in Small-Town Texas

Ben Sklar

Ben Sklar

If you’ve ever driven through Texas, then you’ve probably seen a pumpjack or two—or ten—depending on what part of the state you’re in. These “nodding donkeys” as they’re nicknamed, are used to mechanically lift oil out of wells and are plentiful in oil-rich areas across the state. Austin-based photographer Ben Sklar has seen these unique and Texas-proud pumpjacks for years, but never knew how he’d like to photograph them beyond a toursists’ snapshot. He recently decided that a typology approach made the most sense—a record of the same heavy machinery repeated, but decorated differently each time. Equipped with a 4×5 camera, Sklar spent a day driving around the small town of Luling in search of signature pumpjacks, his collection capturing character and charm, Texas-style.

Ben Sklar

Ben Sklar

Ben Sklar

Ben Sklar

Ben Sklar

Ben Sklar

Ben Sklar

Ben Sklar

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