A look inside – The life of the Rodeo Photographer and Videographer
Imagine your current everyday life as it is now, maybe you go to school, work a 40 + hours a week job, or maybe even both. On top of that you are a Rodeo Photographer or Videographer. That means every weekend after a long week at school and or work you are driving hours away to spend the weekend doing something your are passionate about.
Make no mistake with every photo and video, the person behind the camera is pouring their passion into every shot. Instead of spending time with their family, they are creating life long memories for the rodeo competitor and their families. Without the passion for rodeo, and their trade these individuals would NOT be out there doing what they do.
Thankfully the majority of the competitors, producers, and families of the competitors are grateful to have us there. In the short time I have been doing this i have received dozens of posts, messages, and such thanking me for the work I do, and for capturing the moments they will be able to replay forever. There is no greater feeling for a rodeo photographer or videographer than knowing their work is appreciated. Every time we see a post, or a photo being shared with someone talking about how much they love it, it is a very rewarding feeling for those who took the photo or video.
What does it all entail?
the rodeo photographer and videographer life can be a grind. For starters you need to invest thousands of dollars in equipment. This is usually a slow process starting out with purchasing the bare bones equipment needed to get a product to sell. This usually consists of a camera, a lens, a tripod, a few SD cards, a computer, an external hard drive, editing software, and a website to display your product.
As time goes on the inevitable gear upgrade is always in the back of your mind. A more professional camera, a number of lenses, a smoother tripod head, larger SD cards for larger events, a new computer as the old one is getting slow, more external hard drives, the latest editing software, a more user-friendly website. In gear alone most of the rodeo photographers or videographers will never break even.
Speaking of the term break… Broken gear comes with the territory of a rodeo photographer and videographer. There are rocks flying, livestock chasing, gear dropping all the time in the rodeo scene. The unexpected rock that shatters your $800 camera lens has no remorse for what it has done. All of this money has come out of our pockets to be able to do what we love, and that is before putting in countless hours on the road, at an event, and behind a computer. Some may feel that paying $10, $15, or $20 for a single photo or a few second video clip is outrageous, but when you look at that list of gear above, and the amount of time put into that one photo or video it starts to seem pretty cheap.
The Dark Side:
Something that MUST be talked about, and I’m sure some of you have seen this coming. There is a dark side to this business, and that is with all the new technology it has become easier and easier for people to flat-out steal our work. As professionals, the rodeo photographer and videographer must make their products available to be viewed in order for people to purchase them. Unfortunately this comes with risks, as people now have ways to rip those products right off the shelf using cell phones and other forms of technology.
For the rodeo competitors who have used screen shots, camera phones to take pictures and videos of your pictures and videos in an attempt to get them without paying for them, I have a simple analogy for you. Lets say you travel 5 hours to get to an event, you pay your entry fee, you have trained hard to hone your skills for years. Your name gets called over the PA and it is your turn to perform. Out of nowhere another competitor hops on your bull and nods his head, or another barrel racer goes flying past you out of the gate. The kicker? no one says anything about it, you go talk to the producer, and they just say sorry and do nothing about it. That is what it is like for a rodeo photographer and videographer when their products get stolen off the internet.
The rodeo photographer and videographer alike are working towards solutions to having people poach and steal their work. We are putting big ugly watermarks on previews of our work. Some are going as far to having a Wall of Shame on their websites and social media pages. This has been a controversial, but effective move for the rodeo photographer and videographer.
Make no mistake about it, we want everyone to enjoy their photos and videos. The thing that mus be understood is that just like if you want to enjoy a new saddle that you bought, you must also buy your photos and videos before enjoying them yourself, as well as showing them off to your friends and families to have them enjoy the product too.
Wall Of Shame:
The basic outline of any wall of shame on a website from a rodeo photographer or videographer is simple. If you have been found to steal any photo or video that was meant for a preview only, and a rodeo photographer or videographer finds out about it, they will literally put your name and a photo of you on their wall of shame. Now we understand that not all of you know about copyright laws, so we have it posted all over our websites, and the previews themselves letting you all know these previews are not to be ripped from our websites.
You may be asking yourself, if i make a mistake and end up on a wall of shame, is there a way to get your name and photo off of that wall of shame? With MOST walls of shame there is one way and one way only to get off of the wall of shame. That is simply to purchase your photo or video that was stolen.
Is the Wall Of Shame necessary?
To put it frankly the wall of shame technique has been a very successful one for many. Personally I believe it is better than the alternative. People can be sued 10s of thousands of dollars for stealing a single photo or video. None of us want to get in a legal battle over a stolen photo or video, so we have used the wall of shame as a much easier alternative. Also if a rodeo photographer and videographer were to sue every person who stole one of their photos or videos they would never have time to shoot a rodeo, as they would be in court daily.
We understand that mistakes are made, and we are willing to forgive them. Personally If i found someone stealing a video from me, I would try to reach out to them first. If I got no response, then up on the wall of shame they would go until they reached out to me. Keep in mind the rodeo photographer and videographer get no kicks or smiles out of adding someone to the wall of shame, but we must be proactive in protecting our work that we have poured our lives into.
Going down the Rodeo trail
I hope this has helped all of you learn more about your local rodeo photographer and videogrpaher, and the lives they lead. Remember we love coming out to use our skills in the rodeo world. To most of us there is no place we’d rather be. Next time you see any of us out at a show don’t be shy to come say hi over a break in the action. We all love to hear from you, and watch you perform over time, and see your progress as a performer. It is much more than just taking a picture or a video, for us it is a way of life, and a way to join in on the tradition of the rodeo family.
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