Notes From A Rodeo Photographer:
Notes From A Rodeo Photographer: Being a rodeo photographer isn’t about just showing up with a nice camera or being able to edit photo’s on your iPhone. Knowing the events and understanding the arena helps to capture the moments. Knowing the lighting helps make the shots “pop.” Now from shooting from broad daylight in the Texas Panhandle to shooting at dusk with rain clouds building in the Southern Colorado Mountains, you have to understand how to light. Now I personally use Alien Bee from Paul C. Buff, because, well I can’t afford anything else and I got mine cheap from another photographer Kent Kerschner the FotoCowboy. When I first started I shot with a first generation Canon Digital Rebel the 300D with kit lenses and a 75-300mm. Now I shoot with a Canon 6D with a Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 which gives me better control and more depth of function. When you add quality equipment body, lenses and lights and work hard at your craft you should be able to capture good pictures that show the action of all athletes in the arena.
This was shot in Nazareth, Texas about 20 miles west of I-27. in the middle of the Texas Panhandle. Most new photographers trying to shot rodeo only worry about the cowboy. In this picture I did my best to capture both athletes. Having been a videographer for a number of years for Maverick Rodeo Company I am more use to concentrating on the animal than the Cowboy.
Another one of my infamous photo’s from the Nazareth, Texas Bull Riding many years ago. Here is another example of watching the action as a whole and not getting to involved in just the rider. As you can see the action quickly developed as the rider was pulled down over the horns of the Maverick Rodeo Company Bull. Again knowing your action is vital.
Belen, New Mexico
Belen, New Mexico was just a couple of miles from the house. I originally started in Belen hauling JT Hair there as a novice bull rider and video taping his rides. That adventure lead me to video taping the whole event for the contractor. Again knowing the sport and watching carefully through the eye piece it was easy to capture this moment. A lot of pretend photographers or those who know nothing about the sport would have been motor driving their camera right about now when this was the only peak of action.
When shooting a rodeo you get more traction by keeping your eye on the animal and not the rider. Until the bull was out of the arena it’s best to keep an eye on things. This happened about twelve feet away, in fact I had to move the panels (not fence) back into place.
Back to Nazareth
This is Cooper Owens, how do I know, well I know him personally BUT having a day sheet or a copy of the judges sheet helps because we always try to go in order because it makes things easier on the judges, announcers and the stock contractor. Fortunately for me Fred and Paula Pitt of Maverick Rodeo were personal friends. Being friends with the contractor gives you a lot of traction and access to parts of the rodeo arena most can’t get to. Be careful, the bulls won’t respect your camera.
This wreck was a best seller. But I am not showing the cowboy being carted off to the ambulance. Instead I have captured peak action as Bull Fighter Cole Ott goes over the bull rider who has come down in the well. Keep your eye on the prize and everything sells.
Everyone needs help. I looked to various sports shooters until I began following other rodeo photographers. First I followed the great ones, then I met Kent Kerschner on line and he has helped me with the craft. So yes find yourself a mentor, learn from them. Take the profession seriously, learn everything. Budget wisely, spend only on the equipment you are willing to learn. Then when you’ve improved your skills and equipment you are half way on the road to being a professional.