A storm rolling in on the horizon, a rodeo roper, his wife, his dog and his portable steer offered a compelling chance for an image with insights into the summer rodeo life in the Nebraska Sandhills.
The environment is changing: As witness, one only need look about. If that sounds familiar to the photographers among us, it should, since it is our daily ritual to soak in the aroma of the visions with which we are greeted. But when I saw this mushroom on a tree little more than a quarter mile from my front door, I halted. Here was evidence that all is not right. Why? Although it’s perhaps common to find mushrooms of all sorts in Nebraska and the Great Plains, this one is special: It’s larger than a human brain, and weighs in at more than three pounds, the product of an abnormally rainy and humid summer.
One of my dearest friends announced his retirement today, and I’m devastated. Heartbroken.
The moment has left me pondering the temporary nature of our perceived permanence; in other words, our propensity to assume, incorrectly, the relative order of our lives. And yet all is entropy in the end.
It made me think of this image, one I made this summer in response to the timeless, yet disparate nature of the scene at hand.
Why did I find the Grant auction so enthralling? The reclamation of historical chaff. Our need to place value on the lost and the discarded.
My dear friend and former assistant Liz McCue and I were at an antique-car auction on Saturday morning, and as I told Liz, I went into the event looking for more images that illustrated my ideas about the chaff and decay of humanity’s past as viewed through the present.
I love shooting rodeos–after all, they’re the subject of my next book. And at rodeos, wild horse races are by far one of the most energizing, terrifying events for a photographer. Horses and people bucking and running and shouting and riding all mean lots of danger, and that’s a certainty if one isn’t careful.
But the photos are worth it.
I’ve always found textures a worthwhile and intoxicating tool for making photographs, as well as frames-within-frames, so when I found this inflatable house at the Wheeler County Fair and a boy playing inside, I stuck around for a bit–and was rewarded.
Rodeo stops for nothing. Nothing.
A massive storm rolled through the skies over Arthur, Nebraska, for the Saturday performance at the rodeo, complete with massive wind, torrential rains, and…lightning. Big bolts of lightning. But no one moved, especially the cowboys.
And so the festivities continued, and so did I, photographing–and I was rewarded with the storm and sunset and visual drama and…this image.
Many thanks to the Greeley Rodeo Committee for giving me carte blanche access to their rodeo this year–the shots were worth it and people were fantastic!
I’ve always liked the last line of Tolkein’s The Return of the King: “Well, I’m back.” And so I am, after digging out the studio from a mound of baby clothes and papers after a nearly four-week absence. I had a wonderful group of students at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshop, and I learned more from them than I’m sure they learned from me (which is how it usually works). Since I’ve been back from New Mexico and Colorado, I’ve been on a fair number of shoots as I try to develop the details of my upcoming Nebraska Arts Council exhibition in 2015, but the call of rural rodeos is strong.