People talk about culture shock a lot, but unfortunately there's also such a thing as reverse culture shock. And going to a rodeo after being in Europe and then spending the summer in New York will do just that to even the most Midwestern of women.
For my second Missourian shift, I was sent out to Ashland, Missouri to photograph the Cattlemen Days Rodeo, a two-day Midwest fest in a very rural area. I was really excited to go and enjoy something inherently Midwestern (or Texan, depending where your loyalty lies).
I've had a bit of reverse culture shock since I've been back in Missouri. A lot of it has been in response to New York, really — I was surprised at the lack of people around me and how gosh darn slow people in Missouri drive (compared to New York, it's more like non-homicidal). But the rodeo was kind of an added piece of America that I haven't experienced in much too long.
Of course, I've been to a rodeo before. Where I used to live in southern Missouri, you could hear the fairgrounds from my house — tractor pulls, jeering and all. But to come back to something that is such a slice of Americana, with a uniform dress of Wranglers, button-ups and cowboy hats was humbling but also a bit shocking at times.
And I've noticed a lot of strange things since I've been back. I've been quite in-tune to changes in my community — the way people dress and act around each other and what being an American might mean. And visual-wise, it's been amazing because I have been noticing small nuances and behaviors that can make photos have that much more depth.
Anyway, I am incredibly happy to be back in the Midwest, though you won't find me in Wranglers or Carhartt overalls anytime soon. Also, the title, "A Phodeo," must be accredited to Grant Hindsley, fellow student photographer extraordinaire.