The Cowboy Way

It was Sunday and I had no pressing plans so I headed to the Wycliffe Exhibition Grounds for Cranbrook's 33rd Annual Pro Rodeo. I wasn't aware that in our small part of the kootenays we had such a strong rodeo community which brought athletes from all over North America.

With my camera gear in hand I headed on down for the action, giddy'up!

Greeted by kind folk and guided to a parking spot, I followed the crowds across the dusty field to the stands where bustles of people swaggered through in their fine, tight fitting wranglers and kickers. One thing I love about the rodeo is the people, so many interesting people.

All of these interesting people actually bring me to a question I've always pondered 'how do you snap a photo of a random stranger?' Do you approach them first and tell them why you want their photo? Or do you sneak it and ask afterwards? The dilemma for me is that if you ask first it will change the shot that I want, inevitably people will pose or be uncomfortable and no longer themselves which is who I adored from the start. Anyways, that's a topic for another time and another blog. Today is about the athletes of the rodeo!

As I proceeded towards the arena the smell of a fresh pile filled the air, children's hands were occupied with cotton candy and as Wes Cummings welcomed the masses I could hear cold ones being cracked at the other end. And so, I too found my way to the other end. As I situated myself amongst the other photographers we were all brought to silence while the Cowboys prayer was thoughtfully spoken overhead.

And then it all began...first with the ladies rounding those barrels tighter and lower than I thought physically possible. Might I mention that nobody looks as good killing it in a sport than those barrel racing beauties.The broncs are where my heart lies though. I don't know if I'm enamoured by the cowboy whom can hold on for 8 seconds or if it's the undeniable beauty that exudes from the wild broncs.

What I love about the rodeo is that it is non-stop action for a quick couple of hours. Next we move on to steer wrestling, more broncs, trick riders and the grand finale of bull bustin'! Man those guys are tough.

With adventure in my spirit and a dream of living the cowboy life I left the comforts of the stand and hunkered down in the dirt alongside the arena, close enough to be hit in the face with the dirt being tossed up from hoofs as they passed by. This is where I find the most happiness mixed in the action, getting dirty and shooting athletes as they put all their hard work and passion into the competition at hand, for all to see. 

As the rodeo came to a close, Wes Cummings gave respect to all that the Cowboys & Cowgirls do. I walked with the crowds back across the dusty field to my truck, toes covered in dirt, my camera dusted out and my face warm from the summer sun and thought to myself 'man! I love the rodeo, there just isn't anything else like it!'

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