I may not be a cowgirl, but I'll do anything that allows me to wear cute and practical boots.
I went to the Boonville Jaycees Rodeo on Friday in Wooldridge, Mo. I have wanted to cover a rodeo ever since I saw tons really great pictures at College Photographer of the Year this past year. To me, rodeos have a lot to offer, including extreme pain, awesome action, interesting subject matter and great feature shots.
I so wanted to cover a rodeo that about three months ago, I sat down and googled any and all rodeos in Missouri and put them on my calendar so I wouldn't forget. Unfortunately, cowboys don't seem to be so Internet savvy and there are about one or two websites that actually provide information about local rodeos. I did my digging and found what I could, however, and plan to cover a couple more over this summer.
The Boonville Jaycees Rodeo was just as I had imagined it. The arena was set up in this extremely small town that exists off of I-70. The sun was setting on the horizon as I arrived at 8:30 p.m. and the horses were lined up around the arena, most of the riders carrying American flags and clad in traditional rodeo apparel. There were toddlers and puppies and other really cute things I find irresistible when holding a camera.
The rodeo, however, was not so cute. It was incredibly hot, and once the sun set, fairly dark. And it was, at times, painful to watch. I love baby animals as much as the next girl, and although I grew up on a cattle farm for some period of time, it saddened me to watch calves chased down, tied up and drug around.
I'm not going to go on some animal activist tirade about rodeos, though. I think rodeos are interesting to watch and are a good example of Midwestern culture. I'm not even against them - it was just interesting to watch from a different perspective. I don't think the owners of the horses or cows would ever want to harm or hurt their own animals; it wouldn't make sense economically.
But I think, when reporting, it is important to look at how others may perceive a certain event through your pictures. If I only took pictures of tied up calves, horses stepping on their riders and extremely mad bulls (all of which were
present), then my reporting would definitely come off a particular way. However, I also included pictures of adorable children, people caring for their horses, and the cowboys themselves, sans animals. I'm not saying this makes me objective or even makes my reporting accurate, but it is important to simply consider what your pictures or words represent and how they will be consumed.
I was initially going to just do this rodeo of my own free will, but decided to pitch it to Vox Magazine, the magazine I am writing for the next eight weeks. They ran a slideshow of my pictures (I was going to do an audio slideshow, but my recorder doesn't like to hold a battery, thus it was dead when I arrived) on their website, which I have included here. Although I'm going to be writing an ungodly and unwanted amount for the next eight weeks, I hope I will still have the opportunity to take pictures that will help me grow as a photojournalist, such as with this rodeo.