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Carpe Diem Featuring Cowboy Antonio

Antonio James lives in Brownsville, TX. He’s a photographer, family man, and all-around cowboy.

Photography by Ivan McClellan

“I think a cowboy is any man that takes whatever the world throws at him, picks up his grit, and rides with it like GOLD.”

My name is Antonio and I was born and raised in Detroit, MI. I have a beautiful wife, some amazing nieces, and nephews, and family I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Let’s start there.
How does a kid raised in the city grow up to be a full-on Cowboy?

To answer that I have to go back to my mothers side of the family tree. My mother was raised in Prentiss, MS so even though I grew up in the city I was raised on Southern Hospitality. Taught the Cowboy Code well before I knew it was the Cowboy Code. My Mom and Dad raised us on “Yes Sir, No Mam, Hold the door for a lady, Respect your elders, Love your family, Lend a hand to all and leave the judging to up there, Remove ya hat when you pray, & All glory to god”.


Uncle Willie has been the head of our family on my mother’s side for as long as I can remember and til this day I’ve never met a cowboy that comes close to him. We’d go down to his ranch in the summers and I’d just be amazed. Someone with my blood with all of these animals, all this land, and most of all, so much humility. I looked up to him.

Uncle Willie is the loudest and proudest man you’ll ever meet. Instilled in us the importance of Family. He’d tell us all of his cowboy stories, all about the good ol days when he was roping. I didn’t really bond to it until I was older already but I just easily fit into it because the most important part about being a cowboy is the heart of gold we are taught to carry and I’ve had that since the day my family tree was created. I also was taught and understood I have to do my own roping, no matter how good my uncle was. Our roots run deep, and our hearts run strong.


A lot of people think “Cowboy” and they think of two different things: “Two revolvers on the hip” or “Bullriding, Roping, Ranching, and so on”. While I do rope, ranch, and “YeeYee” with a cold beer I don’t think that’s what makes me a Cowboy. That definitely isn’t what makes Uncle Willie a Cowboy. I think a cowboy is any man that takes whatever the world throws at him, picks up his grit, and rides with it like GOLD.

Most my buddies say I stand out in the Photography Community because I carry the cowboy heart into it. I’m a wild lil heart of gold. I’m ready for anything you throw at me. I’m known to see a hurricane coming and run towards it. I was told at the beginning if I wanted to be a successful photographer I had to lose the Cowboy in me.

Watch my tongue, Calm my act (you know the Hollywood stuff). I said “it ain’t like I can hide it” and turned the cowboy up even more. People love it because while we may be the wildest souls you’ve met on dirt, it ain’t nothing can’t depend on us for.

“I live for the rule of “All it takes is 8 seconds of grit, to win the big buckle.””

“I love this life. It’s a crazy world we are living in nowadays & it’s just good to still be able to leave the earth one lope at a time.”