Lonesome Prairie by Jenn Zeller in Eagle Butte, South Dakota

Jenn Zeller is a horseman, rancher, barrel racer, writer and photographer. Her photos give us a beautiful glimpse into South Dakota ranch culture. Be sure to give Jenn’s feed a good look and a follow for regular inspiration. @thesdcowgirl

Name:Jenn Zeller

Place you live: Eagle Butte, South Dakota

Occupation: Aspiring horseman, rancher, photographer, writer, artist.

Preoccupation: The South Dakota Prairie, cows, horses and skies.

Place your Instagrams were taken?  My feed is filled with gorgeous scenes from the prairie where I live, the trials and tribulations of ranching, pretty horses, Brangus cows, and the gloriousness that is South Dakota.

Can you sum up Eagle Butte? The prairie can be a lonesome, brutal place. Winter storms will roll through, sometimes leaving a trail of death in their wake. Summers are full of swift breezes, tall grass, blue skies, fat cows, plentiful sunshine and perfect days.  My nearest neighbor is three miles away, but they’d come help me in an instant if I needed it. Here, people pull together to get big jobs done quickly.  It’s full of the human spirit that made America great.

What is a perfect day in Eagle Butte? My perfect day includes sitting astride a horse, sorting pairs, riding through the cows, or handling cows in some way, shape or form. Basically if the sun is shining and I’m alive, I’ll find a way to have a super day. My philosophy is that if you wake up, on this side of the earth, you should probably find some way to make the most of it!

If Eagle Butte was a person or character who would it be and why? The first character that came to mind for me, was Woodrow Call, from the film, Lonesome Dove. Woodrow is rough, tough and gruff, but he’s also kind, and loves his friends. The prairie can be brutal, but it can also be kind and provides us with our living, by growing some of the best grass in the country.

How long have you been using Instagram? Since 2011

Do you shoot with your phone or other cameras or both? I shoot with an iPhone 6, Canon 5DMKiii, Canon 7D.

What is your editing process? When I’m shooting with a DSLR, I primarily shoot RAW files, so everything goes into Lightroom, and is adjusted accordingly. For portrait work, I tend to like a muted feel, but if it’s wildlife, nature, equines, cows or ranching, I edit according to how it looked and felt to me at the moment I took the shot. I keep everything to a minimum: dragging the shadow highlight sliders, upping or lowering blacks/whites if necessary. If I’ve shot for black and white, I finalize the edits in Photoshop.  When I shoot on my iPhone and go to Instagram, I always adjust manually via the Instagram editor — beginning with the structure of the image, and go from there. I try to balance the light correctly before I take the shot but sometimes it simply won’t work. An iPhone does limit you in that regard.

Has Instagram/phoneography affected how you shoot? It’s made me start to realize that shooting isn’t always about taking a gorgeous image — people are truly interested in my life, so I try to be authentic in what I share, while keeping the feed beautiful.

Can you give a couple tips to aspiring Instagram photographers?  Use a lot of hashtags, post often, and be true to who you are. Tell a story with your images. After all, that is what a photographer is: a storyteller.

Who are your three favorite Instagrammers?  @CDPhotog, @lyndseygarber and @CDR16.


Want more Instagram tips and inspiration? Check out all of our Best of Instagram features and learn from the masters.

Want to be featured on our best of Instagram series and bask in the glory? Follow Global Yodel on Instagram and tag your best local shots with #GlobalYodel!


Name:Jenn Zeller

City:Eagle Butte

Best place to eat:

Ubetcha Watecha

Best place to drink:

The DX Ranch (our home).

Best outdoor activity:

Riding horses, of course.

Must do:

Spend a few days at our ranch learning the ins and outs of ranching, horsemanship and life (through our non-profit, Project H3LP)!