Breaking News
More () »

'Triplets': A look behind the lens of the photographer who spent decades capturing the Dallas Cowboys

“It’s the most famous photograph in Cowboys history — they tell me that,” Ron St. Angelo said of the photo dubbed "The Triplets."

DALLAS — On a winding lane in the backroads of Grapevine sits a tranquil cabin-esque home overlooking a small pond.

A vibe fit for Henry David Thoreau.

It is the picture-perfect haven for a veteran photographer.

Ron St. Angelo served as team photographer of the Dallas Cowboys from 1979 to 2010 — capturing decades of iconic moments through his Nikon camera.

“Of course, Tom Landry hired me,” St. Angelo recalled of the legendary Cowboys head coach.

A native of Beaumont, Texas, St. Angelo was drawn to photography in high school.

At age 18, he enlisted in the United States Naval Academy.

“Most guys who went in when I did, in 1967, that’s where you were going,” St. Angelo explained.

Photography was a popular hobby for St. Angelo and military members at the time because the cost of camera gear was less expensive overseas than back home in the United States.

St. Angelo served six years in the Navy, including two combat tours in Vietnam.

“I could've easily been killed, very easily,” St. Angelo admitted. “Some of the jobs I did, I was in the gun mounds when we were on firing missions.”

Focus and composure — skills he acquired on the frontlines — later served him on the sidelines shooting for America’s other team.

“These guys are running full speed at you and can come crashing into you at any moment,” St. Angelo paralleled. “Being able to stand in the face of that, and not give my position up.”

After he was honorably discharged in 1973, St. Angelo went to the University of Houston to pursue his passion of photography. In 1978, he opened up his own studio.

A year later, he was hired to take photos of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders and portraits of the team.

For the next 31 years, St. Angelo took some of the most memorable (and pirated) Cowboys images.

His most recognizable, which can also be found on the cover of the book he published “Greatest Team Ever,” is of hall of famers Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin — The Triplets.

“It’s the most famous photograph in Cowboys history — they tell me that,” St. Angelo said.

What was his favorite game to photograph over the years?

The 1992 NFC Championship Game in San Francisco.

“That particular year, it was like a monsoon… [Players] were coming out, and they were walking through puddles of mud. And I’m thinking, this is going to be just sloppy, but it’ll make great photography,” St. Angelo smirked. “I like the elements. And photographically, that’s really the best.”

The mud produced another highlight of St. Angelo’s collection.

“That photograph I did of Daryl Johnston walking in the mud — that’s another image I sort of imagined in my mind before the game,” St. Angelo noted.

“There are some really great photographs that are a part of Ron’s library,” said Johnston, the longtime Cowboys fullback. “So I’m blessed to have one of the ones everyone seems to enjoy.”

Ron’s library is prominently displayed at AT&T Stadium and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“I’m as good now as I’ve ever been, maybe better,” said St. Angelo, now 73 years old.

When not enjoying the stillness of the pond with his wife Joanna, St. Angelo is still taking photos. Nearly half a century of experience, he’s able to see depth in his work before and after the clapping of the shutter.

“I can transport myself to that time, which is sort of a history of your life behind the lens.”

Transcendent moments developed into memories to be shared forever.