June 25, 2017
That’s Not Wedding Photography!
No wedding last weekend, but I was pleased to cover the Rodeo de Santa Fe. (The publication that sent me must remain nameless.)
I went to the rodeo grounds with big dreams. I wanted pictures that could hang in an art gallery, not one the sports pages. Garry Winogrand, one of my artistic heroes, made his name, in part, by covering rodeos in Texas.
I could already see the weathered faces of the veteran cowboys, and the look of confidence, determination, and a little fear, as they tied themselves to the back of a 600-pound bull. Printed in black and white, the pictures would make terrific environmental portraits.
(Although I was being paid for sports photos, I thought that I’d have time to get both.)
But my plans met an obstacle at the start. When I picked up my media credentials, they said, in boldface writing: “No Access Behind The Chute.” In other words, no close-up of the cowboys.
Of course, me being me, I wasn’t about to take no for an answer. I worked my way up to the president of the rodeo, explaining my plans, but no go. “These are profession athletes,” he said. “Would the Denver Broncos let you into the locker room before a game.”
Hard to argue with.
So I got access to the VIP tent and a free margarita, and a little freedom to wander around the grounds, but my chance of the “up close and personal” photo essay was not to be.
So what does this have to do with wedding photography? Not much, I guess. I could write something like, “If I can capture the speed of a bucking bronco, I can get your walk up the aisle.” But I’ll leave the marketing alone for the moment and hope that you like the pictures.
Let me close by offering my observations about the sport of rodeo: It’s scary as hell. My media pass let me get close enough to see the cowboys as they were strapped to big, angry animals. Staying on top of these animals required a level skill and bravery that you don’t see everyday. And more than one of of the bulls threw off the cowboy on his back and, in a split second, charged at him, horns first. Not a good place to be.
Maybe it’s best that the officials didn’t let me get too close.