Rodeo Photos

Lucas and I were walking through R Bar B last year checking out the inventory.  Near the entrance Russ, the owner, has nailed up some old rodeo photos.  I could stare at old rodeo photo’s for days on end.  Everyone of them is a little bit different.  Is the stock raring up or kicking out? the steer low or high headed? the loop going to catch or slide off? the rider in position? are the bullfighters in position?  what is going through each persons mind? what are the connections between the people in the photo? Amidst photos of rides and runs and rodeos, there was one that stood out.  The photo that we both studied for sometime was of 8 cowboys standing in front of a chute.  From the looks of their attire, it was the late 70’s or early 80’s.  Seven men stood in their pearl snaps and wranglers, but one stood out.  It was Lucas’ uncle Doug who fought bulls during that period.  He was decked out in baggies and face paint.  Traveling partners and friends, who rodeoed together and supported one another on their quest and played major roles in each other stories.

A few years back, Baxter Black wrote a commentary on a photo taken by Jim Fain of bullfighter Wacey Munsell making a save.  To this day, it may be my favorite article that I have ever read.  He captures the stocism of Munsell, the chaos of the event, and the action of the picture with his words.  If you get a chance, take a moment to read it (here).  I love each and every picture because of their minute differences and the stories each one tells.

A picture might show a guy before the biggest ride of his life.  At the NFR, with thousands of dollars down on the ride, 100’s of thousands of miles driving all year to get to this point…the picture is taken.

Ready for the NFR

The image might be of another time when rodeo wasn’t as organized or professional as it is today.  Riders getting on animals to win $2 or a suit.  In the middle of a pasture with only bragging rights on the line.  Check out all the guys in the backgroudn watching him make a ride,  A simpler time where it all began.

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It could be of a bullfighter risking his body to make the save…

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a wreck in process…

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or a winning loop…

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but every picture is different and tells a different story of how the subjects came to be captured.  Each and every image tells a story, a journey that every cowboy takes in rodeo.  The picture is but a slice of an entire string of events that brought them to that point and will be shoved backward as new images come to the front.  Each picture is part of the tale.

I am fascinated by the stories rodeo photo’s tell.  Almost as much as the story that is being played out all over the world by God.  In the same way that I am blessed to be part of some fun rodeo pictures, I am greatly honored to be part of the pictures of God’s work in this world.  Each image tells a story of what God is doing or has done.  Sometimes we are a central figure in the picture, sometimes a blurry face in the background, but our placement in the frame makes the work no less real.

For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?  What, after all, is Apollos?  What is Paul?   Only servants, through whom you came to believe–as the Lord has assigned to each his task.  I planted the see, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.  For we are God’s fellow workers, you are God’s field, God’s building.  (2 Cor. 3.3-9)

Paul is writing to the Corinthians a letter about unity.  One of his main ways of fostering unity is to remind them of the journey that they are on together.  Part of what gives rodeo photo’s their uniqueness is not only the action, but the people in the picture.  The background, the foreground, the blurry and the focused.  Together, rodeo cowboys are journeying together, buddying-up, traveling the country, chasing those white lines.  Paul reminds the Corinthians of the awesome journeys happening in their church, the awesome pictures being captured, if their unity can remain in tact.  He is certain that we all have role.

Who are you partnering with today, to capture the images focused on the work of God?  Are you seeing his action and involvement  clearly?  Do you recognize his handiwork?  Is there  a bond that needs to be forged in unity, to celebrate God’s activity?  We are all part of God’s plan of redeeming the World, let’s journey together…

me seth and lucas

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About Travis Long

I am a cowboy saved by the grace of God.

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