2012 Fortuna Rodeo

For a while now I have been counseling photographers to consider shooting scholastic and minor league sports because the expanded access that often accompanies these events creates opportunities to make pictures that are next to impossible to make at higher profile events. I found myself taking my own advice after the California Rodeo Salinas inexplicably denied me a credential, the only rodeo in the last two years to do so, even after I shot it last year. They must not like publicity. Way to go. My friend John Curless spent a lot of time trying to persuade me to shoot the Fortuna Rodeo, and I kept humoring him thinking that I couldn't really shoot a CCPRA rodeo when there was a PRCA rodeo the same weekend. So after I heard that Salinas was not in the offing, I set up the trip to Fortuna.

Walking around the rodeo grounds after the five hour drive from Oakland, I ran into John and his dad Roy:

Roy Curless - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Lou Bugenig, father of multiple NFR-qualifier Billy Bugenig, does the stock for the Fortuna rodeo:

Lou Bugenig - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

I learned more talking to announcer Ted Dwyer for 10 minutes before the rodeo than I would have thought possible.

Ted Dwyer - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Cowboys all prepare for the rodeo in their own ways. Some get their gear in shape:

Forrest Mallory - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Tyler Stueve - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Others trade stories:

Dustin Moody - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Ad Bugenig - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Some pray:

Cody Higgins - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Others have a smoke:

Derek McCormack - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Speaking of access, normally it's difficult to get very close to the roping chutes. At Fortuna, I was able to shoot from just beside the rail:

Dan Williams - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

I was well within range of maybe getting hit in the head with a rope, so I put on my widest lens and tried some panning shots:

Mike George - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Billy Holland - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Jesse Beardsley - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

There were some wild bronc rides:

John Giacone - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Andrew Steiger - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Cody Kiser - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Blaine Davies - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Grant Denny - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Dustin Moody - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Forrest Mallory - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Thanks to some sneaky steer, there were a few spectacular wrecks in the bulldogging:

Danny Brown - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Kaden Zanone - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Local cowboy Kelly O'Day won the all-around title thanks to his performance in steer wrestling and roping:

Kelly O'Day - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Shane Radelfinger - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Austin Tyler - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

A few on the bull rides started out looking good:

Keith Roquemore - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Kris Matthews - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Kcee Boneck - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

But after four sets of bull rides, no one covered. The West Coast Rodeo Co. bulls reigned:

Evan Gannon - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Riley Fish - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Junior Emerson - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Junior Emerson - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Ben Kopshever - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Mariano Ochoa - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Collin Sturdevant - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Keith Roquemore - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

JR Harrison - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

The arenas wasn't especially conducive to shooting barrel racing, but I got a few more conventional pictures that I was happy with:

Mikayla Moore - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Jenny Milsap - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Motorcycles are the hot specialty act in rodeo, and Fortuna got in on the action:

Charlie "Too Tall" West - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

Metal Mulisha FMX - 2012 Fortuna Rodeo

I want to thank Lou Bugenig, John & Roy Curless, and committee president Shannon McWhorter for making everything possible.