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ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT
Thirst For Grit
Emerging Photographer Fund – FINALIST (number seven of eleven)
After returning to my hometown of Austin, Texas after years on the California coast, I set out to explore and understand one of the Lone Star State’s cultural staples: the rodeo.
With ‘Thirst for Grit’ I offer a vignette of modern-day, small-town rodeo cowboys in Texas. I traveled endless hot and dusty miles crisscrossing this oft-lonely expanse, following the itinerant ways of these men who live a life of legend and little. They share a special bond, a camaraderie with one another that seems to center on respect, loyalty and toughness. While mostly well-mannered gentlemen, rodeo riders can also be as wild and rough as the beasts they ride, and sometimes skate the edge of social rule when it comes to the bottle and women.
Every time I jump in the truck with these spirited men and burn asphalt to another small town on the horizon, it’s an embarkation on a new adventure. The rodeo is a time for these men to let loose from a hard week of labor as contractors, construction workers, and the daily grind of their lives; to hit the road with fellow rodeo cowboys and girlfriends; to grit their teeth and ride hard; to test their strength, skill and toughness, and to compete for prize money and bragging rights. Some of these men are addicted to rodeo even into their mid-life.
These cowboys uphold this old Texas institution amidst an ever-watery modern world often less forgiving of cultural traditions. They ride nearly every weekend and put their bodies and heartbeats on the line because this is their identity, they can live no other way. They are born with a thirst for grit.
Additional artist’s note:
At the beginning of this project almost two years ago, I befriended 30-year old bull-rider Jimmy “Stretch” Borunda. The mutual respect we have for each other and the trust and friendship that has formed has been my key to the door for this story. It is through my interpretation of Stretch’s world that I share ‘Thirst for Grit’. This spring Stretch was hurt badly and lost sight in his left eye. I have continued to document his return to the rodeo arena, now as a familiar presence and supporter, and will follow his quest to return to competition.
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Lance Rosenfield (b. Austin, Texas 1972) is a freelance photographer based in Austin, Texas. In addition to shooting editorial and commercial assignments, he concentrates on personal work such as “Thirst for Grit.” He has exhibited in a number of group shows including FotoSeptiembre and East Austin Studio Tour. He attended the Eddie Adams Barnstorm Workshop in 2007 and is a B&W Magazine Spotlight winner. Lance serves on the Board of Trustees for Austin Center for Photography and is a founding member of Texas Toast Photo Show.
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Many thanks… david alan harvey