I often rant about the importance of selecting the right sports photo to fit the story of the game. Unless the shot is uniquely spectacular, I avoid the SportsCenter mentality of visual reporting and pick a photo of the local team doing something negative if they lost or something positive if they won. In track and field, I look for shots of people who actually won their events.
This philosophy doesn't always apply when I'm covering rodeo, however. This is especially true in the rough stock events. Time was tight while covering the Farm-City Pro Rodeo in Hermiston last week, and on the first day, I only stayed for the first two events. First up was bareback, and when Caine Riddle came flying off early on, I knew I had a winner in the bag:
It's not the best bucked photo to be sure. Some pained expression would help, but I like the position of the horse and think the photo shows how tough this sport can be. I had a shot of the day's winner, Tom McFarland,
and while it's not bad, I didn't think it had the same punch as the other shot. It worked well as a cutout on the front page to tease our rodeo coverage, though.
Next up was tie-down roping. In this case, my favorite shot of the day lined up blissfully with the go-round's winner, Timber Moore:
Maybe it wasn't so blissful for the calf, but the snot flying out was what won me over.
I stayed a little later the next day and didn't bother shooting much bareback again, opting to stake out a spot in hopes of a cool wide-angle shot near the chute. The shot I got turned out OK,
but I preferred this unexpected snap of Tanner Aus of Granite Falls, Minn.
Having already covered tie-down roping, I changed up my angle to face the cowboys as they did the actual tying. Those were pretty boring, as expected, but I did like the symmetry of this little guy getting roped,
and I think it captures the comic cruelty of my least favorite event at the rodeo. I did enjoy this shot of Tuf Cooper body slamming his calf,
and he actually won his go-round, so I had a fallback if I failed at covering steer wrestling and saddle bronc.
Steer wrestling is my favorite to watch, and Coleman Kohorst's run is a perfect illustration of why. He had to stretch about as far as anybody I've seen on his dismount,
and got a nice leg extension,
before failing to score in a shot that sums up how badly these cowboys want to succeed:
I think somebody who's never seen steer wrestling before can tell that his is not a position of dominance. That was my favorite shot from steer wrestling, but it's such a visual event I had to show some more dejection and dirt flying:
I ended up running this snap of Kenneth Lewis, who won the second go-round, because it was running small and it worked well tight:
I could do without the horse's butt in the frame, but opted to include a winner since saddle bronc was all about the bucking. It's not that I relish the painful outcomes of the animals' victories.
Sometimes things just don't line up well for the winners' photos. Co-winner of the day Tyrell Smith's ride happened to wander into crappy background territory, and this was the best I got of his ride:
I didn't even like it enough to include in the day's loosely edited gallery. I got a better shot of Taos Muncy, the other top performer of the day,
but I just didn't like it as much as J.J. Elshere's rough ride:
While I love shooting rodeo action, as always I'm more interested in the atmosphere and periphery, though:
I'm not thrilled with my take from Farm City, but I've always seen that assignment as an appetizer for our local round-up next week. While I won't hesitate to run the bucking and crashing, it is more satisfying to get a good snap of somebody who had a good run. It's a drive that gets me excited every year when I dust off my goofy cowboy hat, throw on some poop-ready boots and git ready to act like I belong in a place that's such a different world for me.
In other poopy news...
The crusade to make photography illegal continues, this time in Long Beach, Calif., where police are under marching orders to detain photographers if they deem what's being photographed as not having "apparent esthetic value." I don't think I need to elaborate on how ridiculous of a policy this is, and you can read more about a June 30 incident at the Long Beach Post.