Matt: Back on the Rodeo Road

After seven months of not shooting rodeos, April rolled around (sans showers this year) and I found myself back doing what I’m meant to do. I took a lot of my own advice over the winter, and it more than paid off. First, I made two complete passes through my rodeo archive (+25,000 pictures) once for a book project, and once to update ratings and keywords to make it easier to find pictures in response to client requests and market to new clients. It was fascinating to see how my pictures got better as I was able to shoot more rodeos, but it was also instructive to see what didn’t work – either at certain rodeo arenas, or at all. For example, some arenas are very narrow, and shooting opposite the bucking chutes with a 400mm didn’t produce the results I wanted because by the time the broncs were bucking at full kick, I wasn’t able to avoid cutting off limbs. Some arenas are very big and some shooting positions are too far away for even 400mm. Some angles would otherwise be good, but it’s tough watching picture after picture be ruined by sponsor signs in the background.

Maybe most importantly, I looked at what the particular attributes of each arena/rodeo are and took advantage of them. At Clovis that means the beautiful light at 8am slack (timed-event qualifying) and shooting from the roof of the announcer’s stand for barrel racing and bull riding.

PRCA Rodeo 2013 - Clovis Rodeo

PRCA Rodeo 2013 - Clovis Rodeo

PBR 2013 - Clovis Touring Pro

At Red Bluff, it means the Wild Ride.

PRCA 2013 - Red Bluff Round-Up

PRCA 2013 - Red Bluff Round-Up

PRCA 2013 - Red Bluff Round-Up

At Oakdale it means shooting across the bucking chutes from the side.

PRCA Rodeo 2013 - Oakdale Rodeo

PRCA Rodeo 2013 - Oakdale Rodeo

PRCA Rodeo 2013 - Oakdale Rodeo

These pictures provide the variety that is hard to come by at other arenas, and since each rodeo only happens once per year, it’s imperative to capitalize at each one..

By looking at all of my rodeo pictures at once I was able to recognize all of these things and come up with new plans for each of the places I shoot.

As I mentioned in my post about my 2013 plans, I found myself saying no to inquiries for pictures of certain cowboys, most notably team ropers. I aggressively addressed this by shooting several sessions of team roping at the first three pro rodeos on my schedule, easily surpassing the quantity and quality of all the roping pictures I had in the prior 5 years of shooting rodeo. This effort easily paid off in both media and commercial sales, starting with this picture of Kory Koontz on the cover of Spin to Win Rodeo:

600820_10151659308759101_188562995_n

More roping:

PRCA 2013 - Red Bluff Round-Up

PRCA Rodeo 2013 - Clovis Rodeo

PRCA Rodeo 2013 - Oakdale Rodeo

PRCA 2013 - Red Bluff Round-Up

I also noticed that some of my favorite behind-the-scenes pictures were made with a borrowed 24mm f/1.4, so I rented one for a couple of weeks. I generally try to steer people away from fixating on gear, but there are just things you can’t do with any other lens. Clearly I’m going to have to just suck it up and buy one.

Matt

*Please Read Below*
Big Lens Fast Shutter is funded solely from the pockets of Ryu Voelkel and Matt Cohen. If you think the information we give you about sports photography is making you a better sports photographer and as a result a well balanced human being, please show us your appreciation by supporting us on Patreon and send some of your hard earned dollars/euros/Brixton pounds our way. People who donate will be mentioned on our next show unless you want to remain anonymous. Thank you for supporting us and may the force of sports photography be with you, always.

PRCA 2013 - Red Bluff Round-Up

PRCA 2013 - Red Bluff Round-Up

PRCA 2013 - Red Bluff Round-Up

PRCA 2013 - Red Bluff Round-Up

PBR 2013 - Clovis Touring Pro

And then there’s just the “regular” behind-the-scenes pictures…

PRCA Rodeo 2013 - Clovis Rodeo

PRCA Rodeo 2013 - Clovis Rodeo

MC3_5301

PRCA Rodeo 2013 - Clovis Rodeo

MC3_4238

I broke out the fisheye/monopod sparingly, just one set of 12 broncs, but thankfully that was enough for now.

PRCA 2013 - Red Bluff Round-Up

Other than that, I focused on the basics, light, technique, and timing.PBR 2013 - Clovis Touring Pro

PRCA 2013 - Red Bluff Round-Up

MC1_8401

PRCA Rodeo 2013 - Clovis Rodeo

PRCA Rodeo 2013 - Clovis Rodeo

PRCA Rodeo 2013 - Oakdale Rodeo

PRCA 2013 - Red Bluff Round-Up

With a weekend off before I hit the road for another run of rodeos, I’m trying to accelerate the process, critiquing and planning before I shoot again. I’ll leave you with a couple of clips from the latest issue of American Cowboy magazine where I have both the cover and table of contents page:

935375_10200651388081323_973803864_n

TOC 16-03-14

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Matt: Back on the Rodeo Road

  1. Those are great! Makes me want to go out this weekend and shoot some rodeo! There’s one right down the road. I’ll bet you’ve photographed some of my friend’s kids. They rope professionally.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s