Now Reading
Quiet sadness for rodeo photogs this year
arts

From the archive: This story is more than 5 years old.

Quiet sadness for rodeo photogs this year

  • A quiet moment before the final performance at the 90th annual Fiesta de los Vaqueros.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comA quiet moment before the final performance at the 90th annual Fiesta de los Vaqueros.
  • Stretching before the bareback bronc riding event.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comStretching before the bareback bronc riding event.
  • Tying boots before loading the chutes, moments before the beginning of the final performance of the 90th annual Fiesta de los Vaqueros.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comTying boots before loading the chutes, moments before the beginning of the final performance of the 90th annual Fiesta de los Vaqueros.
  • Rodeo clowning at the Tucson Rodeo's celebration of the 90th anniversary of the Fiesta de los Vaqueros.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comRodeo clowning at the Tucson Rodeo's celebration of the 90th anniversary of the Fiesta de los Vaqueros.
  • Layne Delemont, the first to compete in the final performance in the steer wrestling competition, managed a time of 6.8 seconds, the second best time in Sunday's performance.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comLayne Delemont, the first to compete in the final performance in the steer wrestling competition, managed a time of 6.8 seconds, the second best time in Sunday's performance.
  • Caleb Bennett took the best score of 86 points on a horse named Choctaw Ridge.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comCaleb Bennett took the best score of 86 points on a horse named Choctaw Ridge.
  • Matt Lait of Alberta took 82 points on a horse named What's Happening before a hard fall. He walked away with no serious injuries.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comMatt Lait of Alberta took 82 points on a horse named What's Happening before a hard fall. He walked away with no serious injuries.
  • Tanner Aus of Granite Falls, Minn., on Rockin Ruby, for 79 points.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comTanner Aus of Granite Falls, Minn., on Rockin Ruby, for 79 points.
  • Tanner Aus of Granite Falls, Minn., on Rockin Ruby, for 79 points.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comTanner Aus of Granite Falls, Minn., on Rockin Ruby, for 79 points.
  • Buck Lunak on a horse named Hollywood Hills.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comBuck Lunak on a horse named Hollywood Hills.
  • Matt Bright of Stafford, Texas, taking 79 points in the bareback competition on a horse named Movie Madness.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comMatt Bright of Stafford, Texas, taking 79 points in the bareback competition on a horse named Movie Madness.
  • Behind the chutes, as the cowboys prepare for the final performance at the 90th annual Fiesta de los Vaqueros.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comBehind the chutes, as the cowboys prepare for the final performance at the 90th annual Fiesta de los Vaqueros.
  • Chase Bennett had a impressive ride on Night Moves, but failed to score by violating the mark-out rule. A huge upset.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comChase Bennett had a impressive ride on Night Moves, but failed to score by violating the mark-out rule. A huge upset.
  • Issac Diaz of Desdemona, Texas struggled atop a hornse named Little Angel. He took a 'no score' for his attempt in Sunday's event.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comIssac Diaz of Desdemona, Texas struggled atop a hornse named Little Angel. He took a 'no score' for his attempt in Sunday's event.
  • Dustin Flundra of Pincher Creek, Alberta, took 77 points on a horse named 4 Aces.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comDustin Flundra of Pincher Creek, Alberta, took 77 points on a horse named 4 Aces.
  • Dustin Flundra of Pincher Creek, Alberta, took 77 points on a horse named 4 Aces.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comDustin Flundra of Pincher Creek, Alberta, took 77 points on a horse named 4 Aces.
  • Lane Sterling wasn't able to hold on during the final saddle-bronc challenge at the 90th annual Fiesta de los Vaueros. He took a 'no score.'
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comLane Sterling wasn't able to hold on during the final saddle-bronc challenge at the 90th annual Fiesta de los Vaueros. He took a 'no score.'
  • Bubba Buckaloo and Russel Cardoza took the best time in the final performance team-roping event with a time of 7.3 seconds.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comBubba Buckaloo and Russel Cardoza took the best time in the final performance team-roping event with a time of 7.3 seconds.
  • Victor Ugalde and Cole Jackson started the team roping event, but sadly took a 'no time' score home when the steer broke loose.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comVictor Ugalde and Cole Jackson started the team roping event, but sadly took a 'no time' score home when the steer broke loose.
  • Brad McGilchrist made a noble attempt, but took a 'no time' in the steer wresting event on Sunday.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comBrad McGilchrist made a noble attempt, but took a 'no time' in the steer wresting event on Sunday.
  • Chance Howard took a time of 7.3 seconds, the fourth best time in the final round of the steer wresting event at the 90th Fiesta de los Vaqueros.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comChance Howard took a time of 7.3 seconds, the fourth best time in the final round of the steer wresting event at the 90th Fiesta de los Vaqueros.
  • Beau Hill, happy with his ride and with a certain confidence that his was, indeed, the top effort in the final bull-riding event.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comBeau Hill, happy with his ride and with a certain confidence that his was, indeed, the top effort in the final bull-riding event.
  • Beau Hill took the only qualified ride in Sunday's bull-riding event, on a beast named 90 Proof.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comBeau Hill took the only qualified ride in Sunday's bull-riding event, on a beast named 90 Proof.
  • Cody Samora of Cortez, Colo., wasn't alone. Like 10 other contenders, he couldn't hold on long enough to take a score, riding a bull named Pitbull.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comCody Samora of Cortez, Colo., wasn't alone. Like 10 other contenders, he couldn't hold on long enough to take a score, riding a bull named Pitbull.
  • Patrick Geipel of Evans, Colo., tried his best, but couldn't make it the full 8 seconds on a bull called Trooper.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comPatrick Geipel of Evans, Colo., tried his best, but couldn't make it the full 8 seconds on a bull called Trooper.
  • Seth Hopper, in a dramatic run, took the best time in Sunday's tie-down roping event, with an 11.4 second time.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comSeth Hopper, in a dramatic run, took the best time in Sunday's tie-down roping event, with an 11.4 second time.
  • Ace Sloan of Cuero, Texas, took 13.7 seconds in the final round for the tie-down event at the 90th annual Fiesta de los Vaqueros.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comAce Sloan of Cuero, Texas, took 13.7 seconds in the final round for the tie-down event at the 90th annual Fiesta de los Vaqueros.
  • Justin Macha, the second run in Sunday's tie-down event, took 14.4 seconds.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comJustin Macha, the second run in Sunday's tie-down event, took 14.4 seconds.
  • Ty Thompson of Wanblee, N.D., had a tough ride on Wound Up, taking a 'no score' in Sunday's saddle-bronc event.
    Joseph Oland/TucsonSentinel.comTy Thompson of Wanblee, N.D., had a tough ride on Wound Up, taking a 'no score' in Sunday's saddle-bronc event.

Rodeo photography is an experience difficult to describe. It's not the same as sitting in the stands, overlooking the arena at altitude. Photographers are ground-level, eye-to-eye with the livestock. It's dirty, a little dangerous, filled with nervous energy, and it's fun.

Down in the photo pit, the earth rumbles as hooves pound into the dirt. At the Tucson Rodeo Grounds, the photo pit is directly in the line of fire during the rough-stock events, right across from the bucking chutes. Broncos often break forward, forcing the contingent of rodeo and sports photographers to hit the deck, cover their equipment, and protect themselves.

Will Seberger would never miss a rodeo. He was an exceedingly brilliant photojournalist who had a special talent for covering rodeo. The excitement of being in the arena drove him to produce a portfolio of stunning photographs. Even while the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) puts strict limits on how photographers can use images gathered from these events, Will always strove to create the most unusual, unique, and expressive images possible.

Will had a casual friendship with legendary rodeo photographer Louise Serpa, too. He even took her portrait once, and the two enjoyed meeting up every year at the rodeo grounds. Considered by many to be the "Ansel Adams of rodeo," Serpa's photographs document a half-century of rodeo.

Like Will, she never missed a rodeo, covering every Tucson Rodeo from 1963 to 2011. Additionally, she was the first woman that the Professional Rodeo Association ever allowed into the rodeo arena and, in 1999, was inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame.

Louise passed away in 2012, three years after a cancer diagnosis. Will had the honor of writing her obituary for this very publication. Sadly Will Seberger passed away, too, this past August.

There was a quiet sadness in the press room this year at the 90th annual Fiesta de los Vaqueros, which wrapped up last week. Without knowing that Louise was up in the stands with her camera, and without Will's wry humor down in the photo pit, it was difficult to get through the events. From other photographers and journalists, to rodeo committee members and even security personnel, it seemed like everybody knew Will and liked him. We all exchanged stories, shook hands, tried our best to laugh and smile.

I shot my first rodeo five years ago, as an assistant to Will. It was cold and rainy for a lot of that year's rodeo. I remember numb fingers, muddy boots, damaged camera equipment. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I understood, almost instantly, why he was so addicted to rodeo. I was hooked.

Like many of the other photographers at the Tucson Rodeo this year, I have been inspired by a great deal of the work he did. And if Louise Serpa is the Ansel Adams of rodeo, then Will Seberger is the Jay Maisel with a dash of Cartier-Bresson — colorful, crisp, brimming with kinetic energy.

I will always think of my friend when I slip on my cowboy boots and head out to the rodeo.

— 30 —

Best in Internet Exploder