Never been to a rodeo before, but sure got my money’s worth when Nadine and I visited Russell rodeo. I don’t remember whose idea it was to photograph the event, probably mine!
Before the rodeo itself, we watched the truck pull and the clouds of dust generated! Some powerful machine and proud men at work.
Then after a short break it was time for the main attraction, packed with action and colors no doubt. For sure, these people know how to give you a show.
Of course there is the ring action with bucking bulls and broncos, but there is also the pickup men, the ‘clowns’ and the animation that are top notch. As photographers, it definitely was a great opportunity to exercise our knowledge. You have to think fast to catch the action while still trying to get a good composition which is not always obvious. There is a lot of advertisement, the railings and of course people around that can get in the way.
In the heat of the action, one just reacts and tries to get the shot. Still, I questioned the activity when the kids were invited in the ring and then asked to pull a ribbon off calves. Some I thought were too young, and unless people are familiar and regulars of rodeos, there was no indication of what they would do once in the ring. It turned out to be a pretty dangerous activity for the small kids. And then there are those beautiful horses, the broncos. We saw some magnificent horses parade freely yet, very well synchronized in the ring before and after the show. Weren’t these the same horses that later would buck like crazy. How could they appear so tame and then so wild?
I think I got some pretty good shots, but I doubt I would go back. I understand that at some time in our history the skills of cowboys were necessary. In some parts of the world, these are still required. Reflecting on my day, I certainly can appreciate the prowess displayed and the strength of these cowboys. But, what I witness was a show, a money making business where there is no longer a wild beast to tame, but rather a captive animal forced to perform…
I would not mind going back to watch locals do the barrels races where horse and rider must work together in a flawless effort to beat the clock. I lift my hat to the young and older ladies we watched. That was amazing!