I like this photo. Perhaps it’s the juxtaposition between the rugged outdoor clothing and rifle with the soft, feminine hair. The idea that the latter does not go with the former is intriguing. It was taken in a studio, as most of the “Old West” photos were. Additionally, like the majority of these pictures, this one too could very well be staged. She looks to be righted handed but the gun holster is on the left. It could be that there is another holster on the right hidden from view. If that is the case, I would think the left holster would still hold a gun (unless she drew cross body).
All of this leads to me the conclusion that it was staged and that this woman isn’t exactly a “true girl of the west.” The possibilities of the “who, what, where and why” are endless. All my added thoughts are simple assumptions based off of the very few things the naked eye can see. Regardless, the photo content and gender subject is quite remarkable for the time period and the picture’s composition is striking. With the aura of mystery surrounding it, “A True Girl of the West” is a perfect example of the folklore and frontier culture that surrounds the American Old West.