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Aislinn Leggett

Eight Seconds: The Quebec Rodeos

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“In the little time I spend with them, the men strike me as a mix of athlete, performer, daredevil and innocent country boy. Despite the danger and the grievous injuries–fractured jaws, broken noses and collarbones, spinal cord injuries–and the risk of death, they persevere because the rodeo has an addictive hold on their souls, and because the ride is their chosen way of life. Watching these men, I feel an unfamiliar nostalgia not only for a time that is passing, but a way life that never existed here. And yet this way of life, the life of the cowboy in Quebec, is not merely decorative and it is so much more than spectacle.” Author Madeleine Thien, 2007

Rodeos were introduced to Quebec, Canada in the early 70’s, a short while ago compared to western Canada. From 2003 to 2005 I researched and documented Quebec rodeos and their cowboys, witnessing the development of a sub-culture that includes not only Quebecers but also attracts cowboys from across Canada and throughout the United States. This relatively new activity and its associated culture are taking shape in rural Quebec. From late spring to early fall, Quebec hosts about 25 rodeos annually. The relationship between these cowboys is stunning. The common love for the sport dilutes any prejudices of race or language and unifies the cowboys like a happy dysfunctional family.

Most Quebec cowboys don’t have a usual cowboy upbringing and are not necessarily raised on a farm. The cowboys come from across the province; they are from cities, from suburbs and from towns. These cowboys are out of the ordinary because most of them have come to adopt and fall in love with the cowboy lifestyle. Most started riding in their 20’s, rather late when compared again to Western Canada and the American cowboys, where they are often raised with a cowboy mindset and start riding at a young age.

This documentary project is not only about the 8 seconds, the danger, the hype and glory but also to explore the Quebec rodeo experience and the uniqueness of these cowboys.


Music: Brad Barr


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Aislinn Leggett


72 thoughts on “aislinn leggett – rodeo”

  1. Perfect that the entire essay is in black and white. I love some of the use of high contrast, grain, and blur. The pictures seem to be moving, yet are frozen in time, in a place where cowboy history is relatively new. The essence of the essay comes through with a powerful punch and leaves the viewer with wonderment about a life charged with danger and adrenaline, passion and loyalty, and the wicked sense to conquer. I really enjoyed this…

  2. Beautiful work. The images work together nicely as a whole to create that nostalgic feeling you described. The idea of the the essay is also pretty intriguing, cowboy culture still being relatively new to the area. But, I would have liked to see pictures that somehow communicated this sort of cultural appropriation (if you could call it that). With cowboy/rodeo projects I think its a little easier to rely on the graphics of the cowboy hat and the iconography associated with the old west, but its a little harder to communicate conceptually about how/why little enclaves like this still thrive against the backdrop of a more modern society. Hope that makes a sense. Cheers.

  3. Rodeo cowboys are hard photograph meaningfully. It’s difficult to get beyond the “yes ma’am, no ma’am” facade they erect. Behind that facade tends to be difficult, hard-living individuals who seem to find a lot of trouble. I liked the essay and the pacing. Not convinced all the fuzz and grain added to it.

    Good work.

  4. Enjoyed the piece alot. First and foremost, that it takes place in Quebec!!! I’d heard from a dear friend, photographer Ali KutluRaza, that there was a rodeo circuit in Ontario (he shot it) and parts of Quebec, but somehow I’d never (ever) imagined cowboys and a rodeo in Quebec. For those who are not from Canada or who’ve never spent some time in Quebec, the amazing aspect of this story is that it was shot in Quebec, instead of Alberta, Saskatchewan, or Manitoba. It’s just surreal and I’m still wrapping my head around the pics imagining they were shot in Quebec. It is an example of what i’d written yesterday about what I cherish in work, particularly documentary work, is that it speaks to me of a place or people or life that I’d never known about before: a reimagination of things.

    I love the conviction of the work and a number of the pics are just drop dead gorgeous or terrific: 1, 4, 9, 11(!!!), 18, 19, 20, 22(!!, like mirror of 11, romance ;) ), 24, etc….but i really love the intense use of shadows and shooting into light(s)…not only casts an ‘halo’d’ feel but also suggests for me the brutality of the physicality. but i love too the clausterphobic feel of many of the shots, the intensity of their bodies and hats and shoulders all in close quarter: the intensity of this community and the rodeo….And yes, the soundtrack is wonderful!

    enjoyed it…gotta, i guess, get my son over to Quebec to check a show out….

    thanks so much for sharing…


  5. Pingback: Burn Magazine Features Eight Seconds, The Quebec Rodeos — Aislinn Leggett

  6. I love it. Amazing, wonderful stuff. I could do without some of the heavy grain, maybe it was un-avoidable, I hope not added. Doesn’t need it, only distracts. Love the graphics. Best stuff I’ve seen for a long time. Thanks from a fellow Canuck.

  7. for me,
    this piece is driven by the images
    and audio..
    at times it felt as if they were moving images..
    I like the grain…
    its rough
    just like
    a cowboy….

  8. The Rodeos is a topic that is inspiring several of you (Lance, Cathy) and it is clearly a great topic…. I have really enjoyed this essay with my favourite images being 1, 4, 7, 13, 14, 17, 18, 20, 24. I could not stop wanting to go back to the essay of our friend Lance Rosenfield that I had previously seen on Road Trips and compare….different essays clearly but both B&W and both on cowboys/ rodeos… I think that Aislinn has done a real god job capturing the event, maybe managed to get more a feeling of being inside…there is also sort of a mystic feeling in some of the photographs that I really like (Pictures 1, 13, 14, 18, 19, 29)… Lance on his side has done a better job in my view showing the life of the roads of these cowboys and also capturing the soul of these men with some closer more impactful portraits…. Tough job to pick as both are very fine essays and in a way complementary but I might be more touched by the soul of the cowboys…

    Would be good to also show the essay of Lance soon. I am curious to know what others would think when looking at the work of these two fine photographers at the same time…. Now, both also have tough competition with Allard on that topic as they continue to develop their stories…. they seem to be up to the challenge….


  9. I completely agree..
    thats why I think the audio is so important in this piece…
    without it,
    it could be..

  10. ERIC…

    i thought of Lance first when i saw this Aislinn piece…i called him and talked about it as well….Lance is not quite ready to publish , but as soon as he is, we will publish it here…his essay is a bit different in that Lance goes outside of the rodeo itself and more into the personal lives of the cowboys…you are quite right, it will be interesting to see the stories compared…

    cheers, david

  11. Now I know what it means to have audio & visual in perfect sync. Aislinn’s photos coupled with Brad Barr’s audio track literally took me inside the world of these rodeo cowboys. I’ve now watched/listened to this essay three times and with each viewing I see and feel more tangibly the raw power of these men, the animals and the rodeo environment where risk is normal and pain a way of life.

    I’d love to know how Aislinn managed to get access to this world. Her images come from an insider’s perspective judging by the vantage points from which she shoots and her closeness to both the action in the ring and the scenes backstage.

    Technically speaking, her use of black & white and a mix of grainy blurred images and those in sharp focus works for me. It heightens the sense of drama, of never knowing what the next moment will bring.

    My hat is off to Aislinn and Brad for a remarkable body of work.


  12. I’ve been living in Montreal for 10 years now and never knew that such a thing exists in the neighborhood. Well, isn’t this a place full of surprises?

    Eric, you said: “Lance on his side has done a better job in my view showing the life of the roads of these cowboys”… Perhaps these ‘cowboys” in Quebec do not live the “cowboy life” outside of the arena and that could be the reason. Seems to me, from Aislinn’s statement above that these man simply blend in the “ordinary” life when not participating in a show. Probably following them “of the roads”, going outside of rodeo and into the personal lives, wouldn’t add much to the essay… uness that would be the point. But that is me guessing.

    Wonderful photographs.


  13. Veba, my copy of “The Lazarus Project” arrived yesterday and I am already hooked! Your photos are such an addition to the story and, of course, Aleksandar Hemon is a masterful writer. I recommend this novel to anyone who loves excellent writing, superb photography and a spellbinding story!


  14. I really, really enjoyed this Aislinn; congratulations and thank you. I have looked at your website and see good, consistent work. Good eye!

    I find the transplanting of another culture fascinating; it may as well be English sheepdog trails in Japan – very surreal. Not only that but do we see a culture transplant or a transplant of the myth of a perceived culture? Does it exist in the American West or is that, too, nostalgia.

    For both Lance and Aislinn, I would love to see the subjects away from the rodeo. How much of creed of the cowboy is infused into daily life?

    As Carrie says above; good use here of high contrast, grain and blur. Very evocative essay.

    Best wishes,


  15. Eric:

    when i saw the pics, i too thought of my silent amigo from Austin…but I also knew he’s been working and extending True Grit and so after the initial reaction, I settled in the saddle here and kicked up some dirt and really got into the Aislinn’s story (again, I wanted even more pics, Im insatiable ;) )…while both ‘appear’ similar, they’re very different stories and have very different ‘souls’….for me, Aislinn’s is about the community of this group, the joy and the wild rides and the spiritual bonds they share….for me, Lance’s is like Cormac Mccarthy novel: full of loneliness and sadness and existential questions, the heroic sadness of the individual and the attempt to make that often difficult life rhyme. I love Lance’s story so much, but this deep bond with his work and his sensibility and poetry did not at all detract from Aislinn’s story for me: i really really enjoyed Quebec Rodeo….though, I cant wait to see Lance’s story here…but I think they will both complement each other very well, as both stories are well shot, passionate, intimate and up-close….the ying and yang of the Burn rodeos ;)))…

    all stories are the same, all subjects have been explored (though i never saw quebec rodeos before!), so what makes things ‘new’ for me is just that: the exploration and the celebration of the life before the eyes….

    again, wonderful piece Aislinn! :)


  16. BOB,

    As often my friend :):):) you have captured with your words exactly how I felt when looking at both essays… “the joy and the wild rides and the spiritual bonds they share for Aislinn vs the heroic sadness of the individual and the attempt to make that often difficult life rhyme for Lance…. so well put Bob and so spot on!!!!! If only I could master the english lamguage (or French for that matter) as you are, I would be a happy man!!!!!



  17. eric :)))…

    if i could master french (my wife and son laugh at my pronunciation which is pretty horrible), i’d be a happy man too :)))

    ok, back to the Quebec rodeo show :)))


  18. BOB…ERIC

    what neither of you mentioned, but which i found interesting, was to see a woman’s view of this all macho ritual….i think there is a certain tenderness with Aislinn’s work ..many of her photographs would seem to reveal a feminine touch …even her action picture #20 and most particularly her photograph #31 puts some macha into the macho..

    even Lance’s all macho title, Thirst for Grit, lets us know exactly from whence the pictures come…when we publish the Lance essay , i think few will actually compare the two in terms of structure..yes, it happens to be at least partially the same subject…but please remember , Lance goes home and out drinking with his cowboys…sees them with their wives, girlfriends and children…Aislinn frames her essay strictly at the rodeo grounds….she covered the EVENT exquisitely.. ….Lance will take us more into the cowboy LIFESTYLE…

    cheers, david

  19. david:

    totally agree :))…and that’s why i think the 2 of their stories are complementary and wonderful thought of/seen together…: one communal, tender (the 2 pics which, though separated, seem like a love song together: #11 (2 cowboys with black hats) and #22 (3 girls watching the boys) and one lonely…..

    as i said, ying and yang ;)))….

    enjoyed both alot..


  20. sorry, typo: that is Communal (aislin) and one Lonely (lance) and pic 11 has 3 black hat cowboys and pic 22 3 girls watching the boys (the tenderness of symmetry and conversation between pics, which to me, shows how ‘senstivie’ this Quebec story is to a story beyond the specifics of the event :)))…it’s that subtle ‘tender’ side of this story that i loved: very subtle, but an open sensitivity sees that clearly :)))…

  21. Beautiful compositions- a series of “decisive moments” that capture an apparent alternate dimension of the whole experience.

  22. I went to check Aislinn site to see if this essay was done by a man or woman. I was not surprise it was from a woman, as I’ve guessed from the poetry evolved is most photographs. Not that a man can’t be poetical, but I think that women photographing style are very different from men. This is a topic for a long discussion I guess :)

    It’s a great essay! Cowboys are different everywhere. I’ve photographed some portuguese “cowboys” (let’s called them this way) that you can see here http://pontosdevista.net/expoi.php?id=359 and here http://pontosdevista.net/expoi.php?id=87 as two very different realities in the same country.

    The only thing I miss in Aislinn essay is the lack of photos of action in the arena. I guess she preferred to stay a more in the backstage and capture the moments of instrospection and happyness. I also know that’s hard to capture good moments of action, because all is going too too fast and sometimes brutal.

  23. I seriously commend Aislinn for all the effort in putting this together, and I am pleased that it elicits such a positive response from everyone thus far, but in putting in my 2 cents if I am honest I have to say I had a hard time with it… Certainly a nice essay that communicates the sense of the event, and generally smart compositions going on in the frame with poignant light and some stimulating motion or mood shots, but overall I didn’t feel any form of emotional connection to these people. Maybe I am over saturated right now with images..I know how much it takes to put something this good together, and I do think it was good, but I was left wanting more. What I am becoming aware of is how crazy hard it is for a photographer to be truly excellent.

  24. Talent is common these days. To rise above the merely talented takes an extraordinary amount of work and commitment. Few are willing to make that sustained commitment.

  25. here’s the other thing..it would be helpful to understand something about the photographer and their level of experience and their goals before offering feedback..for example, someone said that on his site Victor places himself as an art photographer..that would have been helpful knowledge. I don’t think it is important to have information about how many years someone has been photographing, their goals. perspective, etc. to have a pure reaction to the work, but it does help in being able to respond to the photographer wit regard to feedback. For all I know could have only started shooting a couple of years ago, and may be pleased with my feedback knowing that I saw many strong elements, or may be a seasoned photographer thinking I should take a hike…

  26. The essay was well constructed and had some pictures that gave me pause. However, while I was watching it my mind kept referencing Winogrand’s ‘Fort Worth Fat Stock Show and Rodeo’ photographs. I think I prefer more of an odd take on the rodeo than images that reinforce my visual ideas. Winogrand’s pictures do this for me. In his photographs I feel that he’s there chuckling at the absurdity of the spectacle.

    Now, this doesn’t mean that this essay isn’t effective. I think it would be a nice piece in a local Quebec magazine or some other outlet like that. Perhaps a bit more digging into the specific Canadianness of the events would add a bit of the oddness I’m seeking. Because as we all know, Canadians can’t help but being odd….

  27. I quite like it.It has a nice feel to it. The choice of treatment works well for me also. I do not see the feminine vs masculine POV raised earlier, but then again I would not really be looking for it. Good solid PJ work on a subject that is probably quite hard to get an angle on that is not entirely hackneyed.

  28. True James, true. In fact it may be possible to make an argument for the most successful photographers not necessarily being the most talented. I said it MAY be possible. We all know (or should know) that it takes more than talent to succeed and not just at photography. That’s why I’d like to see input from a few magazine editors etc. to explain why one essay is publishable and another isn’t.

    Have you seen anything here at Burn that you would publish as a newspaper editor James?



  29. I have previously seen this work published on stilldancing.

    I think Aislinn has very good technique and did a really nice job of putting the piece together. Love the audio clip.

    That being said, she doesn’t show me anything I haven’t already seen a million times, maybe two million times, including in my own rodeo photography. There are the cowboy getting ready shots (#3,6,26) the ring action shots (#4,9,17,20,23,28) the cowboys praying or listening to the national anthem with hat off shots (#18,29,31) the closeup of guy in chute shot (#15)…I could go on thru each image but by now you get my point. A lot of these photos are very well done…#2 shot from above, cowboy in chute just before the gate opens is a favorite of mine.

    When I showed some of my own rodeo shots on burn David had a long list of questions for me…”What are you trying to say?” etc…These same questions should be asked of Aislinn, no?
    What she said (in writing) was very interesting but IMHO the photos are not saying much other than “This is what happens at a rodeo” which is not particularily desirable around these parts.

    (That’s rodeo talk for.. burn generally tends to like what is beyond the obvious :)

    Lance also comes to mind for me. Not that we need to compare but Lance is saying more…or at least I am hearing more when looking at his photographs.

  30. Well I just want to thank everybody that has been posting and participating with the comments. I’m really excited about the dialog and it’s nice to see what works for some and doesn’t for others.

    There’s one reason why I started following the rodeo circuit in Quebec and that’s because I didn’t really know it existed – actually, most people in Quebec don’t know much about it. The more research I did brought me further and further into the Quebec rodeo world. I knew when I started shooting the circuit and the cowboys that that particular subject (cowboys) had been documented many, many times. But for me, in my backyard, there was this entire world completely detached to Quebec’s normality’s. And that in itself was the base of the project.

    These cowboys were and still are learning the ropes (no pun intended): How to ride and how to be a cowboy. Most of these guys are freelance cowboys. They have a somewhat steady job being a mechanic, construction worker, laboring jobs during the week, which pays for their weekend rides. They’re not born cowboys and I just find it fascinating that they’ve ‘learned’ to be cowboys.

    The hype of the ride gets one pulled into the action, I mean that’s why the cowboys are there – to ride. Macho aside and them playing the part, these guys are real. When they turned that off, it was their vulnerability and their silence that got me. I’m speaking generally here, but as much as the guys can be boastful, loud, even arrogant, these are all attitudes they must have to be able to mount these beasts. So their “off” moments were the ones that really captured me. Another reason that attracted me to these more serene moments was knowing that there were a couple hundred people in the crowd to see the ride and only the ride. Spectacle, hype, pain, glory, leaving the world behind the chutes practically non-existent. So leaving the action shots to a minimum in my essay was a conscious decision. I stuck to behind the chutes because I didn’t want to alter my way of seeing these guys. I didn’t want to befriend them more than what I needed to. I liked that barrier that they put up with me because when it did come off, it made for the chance of a nice shot. Maybe it is because I’m a woman that these invisible barriers were there, on their part and just as much on mine.

    To me the audio aspect of this project is really important. The audio playing now is a shortened version of the full length, which is about 20 minutes along. There is a lot more French dialog on the full length version where you can get a sense of the “Quebecness”. I think it was Wendy that even commented on this. (Thanks for picking that up.)

    And finally, as this is getting a bit winded, all the images were shot on 35mm film. The grain and blurriness are all real. So there are absolutely no added treatments to these images.


  31. Beautiful light and composition. Great sense of movement. I think it stands on its own just as a “rodeo” piece very nicely. As others have said, there are a lot of rodeo pieces out there, but this one I think is particularly nice just because of the visual style.

    The added element of it being a cultural transplant to an Eastern Seaboard Canadian province introduces a conundrum: what is it that makes this rodeo different from a Wyoming rodeo? The text clues us in on this, and I could see where for this story the text could be a lot longer, possibly getting into the personal stories of some of the riders, some descriptions of the towns, etc. As for the photos, I’m not exactly sure what more–if anything–we need to see to get the sense that this is a bit of a spaghetti western, without diminishing the grit, determination and sheer ballsiness of the rodeo riders, and the fervor shared by riders and spectators alike.

    I think this project could work well as a multimedia piece; a little bit of video, interviews with the riders, interspersed with Aislinn’s luminous, nostalgic action photos. You’ve already begun this with the audio…I’d say, do more…

    OR, and this is just off the top of my head, more a thought than a recommendation: you might even consider doing some color photos, for example portraits of the riders, environmental shots of the area, the rodeo grounds, etc…That way, you could create a nice contrast between the “here and now” of modern-day rural Quebec, and the “once upon a time” nostalgic world of the wild west that the participants are entering into as an act of collective dreaming…

    Depends on how much more time you want to put into the project. Already I think it’s beautifully shot and stands on its own just fine.

  32. What a great sound!
    What a great set of images!
    Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!
    This is a very fine example of how to combine the still image, live sound and music!
    I admit, black and white makes the series pretty nostalgic, it could be 1970. Can’t you sneak in a mobile phone or something 2009ish?
    Nice discussions here on burn! And awfully great images!
    It is bed time over here in Europe!
    More soon!

  33. CATHY…

    you have asked all good questions…..

    i wrote earlier today , maybe you did not read it, but Lance is not ready for publication…or says he is not yet…at least, i do not have his material…he never submitted it to Burn…i called Lance when i saw the Aislinn piece and asked him if he was ready to show..i would have given Lance the first choice…he said no…we will publish Thirst For Grit later which is quite a different piece altogether…you should go back and read my comments before about this…

    now Cathy, i know you think i blast you sometimes, but i swear you set yourself up for me saying something to you that might hurt your feelings, and i hate hate to hurt someone’s feelings…but, now you are asking me a straight question, so i must give you a straight answer…while Aislinn does have as her coverage mostly pictures we “have seen before” as you say, she also has a few pictures that put her over the edge…

    looking at your rodeo work i never thought you had those “edge” pictures…i will look again whenever you want, but i just do not remember anything that approaches the best of Aislinn…now , i know you and like you and i have never met Aislinn nor spoken to her at all…so, i am just talking about the pictures…i would rather publish Lance or you from a friendship standpoint, but Aislinn has it in pictures…see #1,7,12,18,20,31 those are the ones that put this in the above average category for me….all the others are just ok…

    you could look at those and say “hey, those are no better than mine”..and you would be right about the “seconds” …but can you really say that about the numbers listed above?? honestly?? in any essay not every single picture is going to be the best you ever saw, but there has to be four or five very special ones to make it all sing….very few music albums contain all “hits”..but you need four or five super songs to carry the album…see what i mean???

    there is another reality as well in magazine terms….who among the three of you, Lance, you , Aislinn has a story ready for publication?? who actually DID it?? finished it..delivered it…this is no small thing in magazine publishing….somewhere somebody has a brilliant idea, and somewhere else is someone with the idea DONE…think about this please…

    Cathy i want you to have an essay here…and you can…you just need to go do it…which is what i have been saying all along…i will love love the day when this happens and i promise, as always, to facilitate any way i can…

    be of good cheer amiga….

    cheers, david

  34. David,

    The photos that you singled out made me look at rodeo in a different way than the way I normally do. And rodeo is one of my favorite events to shoot. I think you are right. These are the stars of the show. The rest are the supporting cast.

  35. DAVID.

    First of all, I DID see what you, Eric and others wrote about Lance. I was just adding to that.

    I don’t know where you got the idea that I was comparing myself to Aislinn, saying “I’m as good as she is” or that I thought you should be publishing my photos instead of hers. Do you really think I was saying any of that??? … because your response sounds like you do and I ABSOLUTELY was not saying anything close to that. You brought all of that up…for what reason, I don’t know.

    What I did say was that I think many of her shots are similar to ones I commonly see, as are my own. In other words saying I am guilty of the same thing I was noticing in her work…that it doesn’t go beyond the obvious.

    Here again is the “straight question” I asked you…
    When I showed some of my own rodeo shots on burn David had a long list of questions for me…”What are you trying to say?” etc… These same questions should be asked of Aislinn, no?

    I was sharing my experience of a critique I got from you as part of the comment I was making about her work. Was there something wrong with mentioning that?

    I have absolutely no idea how on earth asking that question set up a situation where you feel it’s necessary to compare me to her, negatively no less and say that I asked for it???

    For someone who “hate, hates to hurt someones feelings” what you said was totally unnecessary.

    You are right…she gave you a piece to publish and you published it. Good for her. Why bring me into that? I had no problem with anything. I just wanted to comment on her essay, not start a war!

  36. Since you made a point of bringing up my rodeo photography and comparing it to Aislinn’s I may as well remind you that the images you saw of mine were only from one rodeo!

  37. Aislinn, thanks for sharing a bit of the story behind your essay. I’ve been to Quebec a number of times but would not have imagined it would have a cowboy culture. Your essay shows this cultural anachronism in a rather haunting way. As others have noted, there is an air of nostalgia in your images, but now I ask, “Nostalgia for what? A world these men imagine existed before their time or in a place much different from their own?” I’ve also been to Saskatchewan and Alberta. Now, cowboys BELONG out there!

    Anyway, I commend you on discovering and exploring Quebec’s rodeo world. As with many viewers here on BURN I have seen some excellent essays that deal with this subject, but to my eye, yours is unique. As David noted, you have several stunning images, and, to me, the addition of Brad Barr’s audio track really sets this work apart from the rest.


  38. CATHY,

    I can tell you are still upset but you really should not… You know that I am a friend… Honestly, after reading your comments about Aislinn’s pictures and this before seeing the response from David, I did think myself as well that you were comparing the work she had done with your own work and inviting David who had asked you some tough questions in the past to maybe provide some perspective on what was different about the work of Aislinn…. Clearly from your reaction, this was not your intent…. We joke about it but it is so true… It is so easy to misinterpret someone with email-web communication…. Now Cathy, do not get upset…. I do not think that David said anything mean at all…. I did read his response as an invite to you to push a given subject… You said it here in a way… You have been inspired by Rodeos I know but you only went to shoot one and only one Rodeo… I think that David would want you to sweat and work hard one topic until you get these very very rare but special pictures… I have heard him say that so many times. There is only a little thing, gap that separates good photographers from great photographers but this little gap is the toughest part to close… the difference between a good photograph and a great photograph…. now the good news Cathy is that these do not come easy to anyone I do not think…. I am sure that for most photographers even the most talented, it is hard work…. I did read David’s response to you as a push to get out there and finish a topic and really finish it…. like when you have nailed it by sweating over it, over and over again…. Do not get upset dear Cathy… We love you and David want syou to become the photographer you can be!!!!

    Your friend.


  39. CATHY….

    after all this time (2 years) of trying patiently to explain a concept to you and writing extensively in the best way i could think of at the time and now answering you based on what i certainly thought you were asking or implying and obviously not succeeding very well and receiving a tirade (war?) after all of what i thought was well meaning photographic critique and phrased as such and after all this time of trying to get you to go out and shoot as so many here have managed to do in fine style and just absolutely getting nowhere, i have only three words left…..i am done.

  40. Can’t quite explain it but I love that feeling of very still movement. And there is just something about how the hats ties everyone together in more than just composition. Like a badge of proudness and honor
    in this environment.

  41. ERICA..

    my thinking was that having the photographer’s web link right under their byline would give you all of that information and set up an overview of their work… if this is not enough , maybe we should encourage each photographer to give a little bio under their caption….make sense??

    cheers, david

  42. Cathy,

    It’s been one of the great days in the history of BURN and Road Trips. The day exactly represents what BURN is about and where it can take people. Long story short, Panos, in his real person met Charles Peterson, Katia Roberts, and Tom Hyde. In one single day. I have not seen him so excited. It is truly a great feeling to see someone to be this happy because of BURN.
    BURN – is a place to share, meet, learn, and also get burned. It has happened today and won’t stop. Besides that I hate these four – Charles, Tom, Katia, and Panos for being “only by appointment” and only before f-ing 6pm. But it’s ok. I’ll get over it

    Just see it for yourself. Its all about lines.


  43. BRYAN F…

    yes, hard to get past the Winogrand work….one thing i would like to do here eventually is to place the selected essay next to a classic….as in your reference…this could really stimulate discussion.. that may not always be possible and the logistics of getting hold of jpegs to post of some of the classics might be difficult…if you can think of a way for me to do this, please let me know…anyway, thanks for bringing up one of my all-time favorite photographers…

    cheers, david

  44. DAVID.

    Perhaps we are too much alike. I feel EXACTLY the same way you do.

    From you “I received a tirade after all of what i thought was well meaning photographic critique and phrased as such.” YOUR words but MY experience and emotions also.

    What you are calling my tirade against you was simply me asking why you are so hard on me? Trying to understand what you were talking about, which seemed to come out of left field. Why not at least mention that you were attempting to critique me (?) although I don’t see how you could based on not hardly ever seeing any of my work. I’m sorry for saying so but your words came off like criticism not critique. You even mentioned in advance that what you were about to say could possibly hurt my feelings and it did. Am I not allowed to admit that?

    I understood and appreciated everything you said using the albumn analogy and about publishing but you lost me on the “critique.” I guess it is just too difficult to discuss like that online where one can only imagine tone.

    As far as thinking you have not succeeded in getting me to go out and shoot “in fine style”…I don’t know how you can say that when you haven’t seen any of what I’ve shot. I have shot SO MUCH at other rodeos, powwows, jewelry stores….all kinds of work from last summer and fall. I have not shown it to you, that is true, mostly because I do not feel ready to show it but it does not mean you are a failure at getting me to go out and shoot. I am thinking about photography ALWAYS and shooting anything that looks good to me. You have indeed motivated and inspired me and will continue to, whether we are in communication or not.

    For someone who was offering “i promise, as always, to facilitate any way i can…” just minutes ago you don’t seem to be able to tolerate criticism very well either.

    As I said, we are probably too much alike…

    When you say “I am done” I can accept that and agree with you. It is way too painful to have always these misunderstandings. You have already done more for me than I could ever hope for. I will always be grateful and will not ask anything more of you. I am happy to observe here on burn, silently.

    Thanks for everything David.

  45. HAIK.

    You have put a big smile on my face. Yes today I got burned. Lines were crossed…
    With your photos you said the same thing Eric said in words. Thanks so much.
    Very sweet :))

  46. panos skoulidas

    i have no more Leicas to break….
    c’mon now….
    please look at HAIK’S slideshow above…below or whatever….get it????????????????
    its all about LINES…
    YOU CROSSED them all….
    DAVID… is doing a FREE workshop for ALL of us….
    you are exhausting the guy and the REST OF US….
    thousands of people watching…..
    laugh, enjoy… GO TO WORK…. bring us photos…
    you talk too motherf*****g much….
    shoot more , talk less…
    Haik was polite…
    great things happened today… and you missed them all…

    KATIA R.
    TOM H….
    thank you all for that great BURN historic day…..
    what more to ask?????????????????

  47. ERIC.

    I can’t thank you enough for your kind words. They mean more to me than you will every know. You are a dear friend to be so concerned and to try to help clear up the misunderstanding David and I had. I totally understood everything you said and you are right, it is all about the photography…the rest of it is of no importance. As you can see David has already said what he had to say below.

    To be clear…I have photographed MANY rodeos and will continue to do so but the photos I showed on road trips that David was talking about were only from one rodeo. That is all I have shown here…but there is much more.

    It is so funny…what got you and David confused, what caused the misunderstanding between us was my mentioning my own photography. The only reason I did that was because it was too difficult for me to say anything negative to Aislinn about HER photographs without also saying the same (true) thing about my own…my attempt not to hurt HER feelings, so instead in end both David and I are feeling badly. Huge lesson for me!!!

    I will not forget anything you have said here and will go out and sweat. You are right, that is what I need to do. I am rooting for your success Eric and am one of your biggest supporters. I wish you all the best.

  48. panos skoulidas

    im still in Seattle…
    im going out right to shoot a Rodeo….right now…
    f***k venice….
    Rodeo will be the new thing….
    but not with horses or cowboys….
    no, no, no…..
    it will be me naked riding on a RAT….
    ok… Haik will shoot it…
    with a gun….

    oh god….. i see Haik running towards me with the DUCT TAPE…
    duct tape is silver… your SILENCE IS GOLD…
    thank you for the laughs you offered us tonight….
    ok… im about to get duct taped once again…
    please ,… MERCY….
    what did i say….

  49. Cathy:

    I also do not want to ‘jump on the bandwagon’ here but I have to agree with Eric and David. Let me be gentle. I also read your comments too as a kind of indictment against if not the work of Aislinn then at the least against David’s judgment about this essay versus your work. It seemed pretty cleary, BUT as we all know words can be easily misinterpreted/misunderstood. Now, as you know, I’m a big supporter of everyone here so please do not think that I am ‘attacking’ so I’ll try to make it not very verbose (everone’s eyes roll! ;) ). I REMEMBER your rodeo photographs very well (it’s the stupid photographic memory) and there were some pictures that worked: the best, the child on the horse with the parents and the ‘rodeo queens’ at dusk. both of these photographs stick in my memory well but I think many of the other photographs didn’t convey either the emotional or metaphoric power of those two or the experience in a way other than ‘photos at a night at the rodeo.’ Does this mean you’re not a good photographer? does this mean that you couldn’t knock a rodeo story out of the park as Aislinn and Lance: of course not. What it does mean is that as one photographer wrote here yesterday, it takes hard work and sustained commitment and LUCK to get it right. I saw David’s questions to you at the time, and now here, as loving questions to offer ideas about how to consider about the work. As a teacher myself, i think this is always the better approach (credit to socrates): to ask questions of students rather than ‘tell them’ what’s wrong. I didnt see David’s reply either as antagonistic here but again an attempt to spell out the differences between your rodeo and this one.

    but above all, i think it is so important to try to remember that every photographer and every editor has a duty to help and foster and nuture one another through understanding and dialogue. In truth, david is the world’s greatest editor/teacher. this aint ’cause he’s Harvey (magnum) but because 99.9% of the editor’s i’ve ever met/dealt with spent little time giving meaningful ideas as to why they didnt like something, let alone offering attempts to nurture vision and growth. I think your comment, while not intended, looked more like Road Trip dialogue born of frustration with this work and fired off the wrong pistons. But, as eric, panos and Haik have said, please try to remember none of this is personal, nore should you view it as that, only as a way to enrich and enjoy the work and the discussion that arises from here.

    I too have a very close personal relationship with David, one that extends beyond the relationship between photograher to photographer and I can tell you that not one time as that ‘trust’ and relationship been altered or hurt by ‘disagreements.’ David and I have not always agreed, but this as only ever been about the work and profession. David has to be one of the most open people i’ve known and one thing that is remarkably different is David’s generosity and his openness. I have never known david to personalize a disagreement, in fact, david makes it very clear that when discussing photography this is not about the personal relationship. In fact, he’s been incredibly patient and understanding. He makes it very clear and open and honest about personal bonds and discussion about work. David will go to bat for anyone, anyone, regardless of the relationship but he makes it very clear that it is important that within the discussion/relationship of photography, it is important not to personalize feelings. I also know that David is one of the few photographers i’ve had a relationship with who will not close the door, but in fact makes it (much to his stress) absolutely certain that communication is open. If he finds fault with work, he’s a straight shooter and this has nothing to do with the feelings he has as a friend: he’ll give you time and an ear and reflection and what else can a photographer and a friend ask for. My loyalty to david, as a friend and a photographer, is not because david is David Harvey but because he always has time to listen and to reflect and to serve up his experience and professionalism. this is no less true here. I count him as a close family friend, but i also count on him as a professional colleague, one who gives it straight, not bullshit, and with an openess and generosity that is uncommon. I think it is very important that photographers separate this, make a distinction. we must not personalize our work and our lives vis-a-vis others opinions and reflections. Burn is a magazine to showcase work and to extend reflection and conversation abut photography. I cannot think of another professional magazine that allows such rich and unfettered access to both the photographers and the editor. David has never turned his back on a friend or a photographer and it is so important we separate the discussion from our friendship. IN other words, we MUST look at others work not as “i can do that or what’s wrong with my work” but as ‘what works in this work.” Last week, I received Charles Peterson’s book Cypher (buy it folks) and i spent each moring for 5 days looking at the work, blown away and thinking, reflecting on it. Charles work couldnt be more different from my own and yet i looked and looked and thought “damn, how’d he get that access” ‘how’d he use the flash like that’ ‘howd he capture that depth of field’. we must not compare ourselves but must investigate and question and work hard. I have never known, not one time, david to provide anything but remarkably genereous time and thoughts with the goal of getting photographers to be the best that they were and I read his comments exactly in that light. In fact, david has spent more time caring and promoting the work of photograhers, and my own families work, than the gallery that put my own pics on walls and sold them. It’s not personal, its an opportunity and one that comes from a place of commitment: his commitment to really foster photography and foster the lives of photographers. Again, i do not say this ’cause he’s dave harvey or this is Burn but because as a working photographer, i’ve had that incredible experience. I cannot think of another magazine or photographer or school that has done so much for photographers and in return has asked so little of others.

    and one last note. i live with another working photographer whose work is poetic and beautiful and challenging and not once is there a need to compare. in fact, when i look at her work i think “ok, bob, see, that’s great stuff, stay inspired” in toronto, we are lucky because we have a group, albeit small, of friends and photographers who support and help one another, all of our work is wildly different and yet it is because of our concern for one another, our appreciation for our projects and our care to know that each of us is bettered by our friendships and our support that makes it all sing. I think people need to look at Burn as an incredible resource to provide continued inspiration and reflection, access to wonderful and challenging and interesting work and we must also value what is offered. David is a tirelessly loving and tirelessly honest and supportive friend, mentor and, yes, editor. It is so important that we dont thing its about ‘our work’ vs. ‘their work’ but look instead not at what we do but what others do and enrich ourselves from that. each person puts their hearts out their when they share work but it’s important we put a shell around our orientation, but not our hearts. david’s pretty clear eyed on that and i think when we begin to not separate the work from the ‘me’, we can see alot better that in the end, what the prize is. like i said, i too am a crazy emotional guy who puts everything into what i make and write and i think yoyu’ll see that david does that too, and that’s rare and that is what makes the relationship with him, as both a photogarpher and as friend so rich. and that has nothing to do with his ‘success’ as a photogarpher.

    there’s a russian proverb: the morning always brings surprises. I hope and trust that in the morning, you’ll see it all differently. Now, there is only 1 type of revenge and i know it’s one that would pump david (and all our) hearts: make a brilliant rodeo essay and get it into submission!

    hope that makes sense. :))


  50. AISLINN! :)))

    thank you so much for this wonderful essay. i’ve really enjoyed looking and listening to it…and would love to see + hear the 20 minute version :))

    And thanks too, as a dad, ’cause you’ve given me something new to do with my son: i guess i have to hook up with Veba and get our kids over to the rodeo! :))

    thanks so much for the work :))

    all the best

  51. Hey Chris,

    The text above by author Madeleine Thien is actually a small excerpt of a much longer text. Madeleine is a very dear friend and an extremely talented writer. In September 2007, when I was getting prepared for the first exhibit of Eight Seconds, I asked Madelaine to accompany me to one of the rodeos to see if she would be inspired to write a piece for me, for the project. She agreed. Since the text is quite long, I couldn’t put the entire work up here. So, my husband has kindly put up the text on my website. So since you asked, here it is! and I thought it was a good idea that people could have the opportunity to read it – if they want to.

  52. I do think a brief bio could help..after all, if we are at burn, we will see the work first, and many times will not have time to navigate away before leaving a comment..

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  54. holy smokes! who’d of guessed… rodeos in Quebec! look at this beautiful rodeo project.. i’m screwed. :) what really struck me was the dream-like quality of some of the images like 1, 9 (for me this soft white aesthetic of a violent trip works), and 15.. and the very nice audio which plays the perfect dance partner to the photos in this little ditty.. the audio in this really got my attention, i’m taking notes Aislinn! :) to hear the francophones mixed in with the cowbells and haunting slide steel and prayer and hollerin’.. this totally worked for me. kinda reminded me of their french kin down over in Acadiana whom i will visit again in a week or so. this is an impressive piece and i have a feeling Aislinn will sell a print or two.


  55. The rodeo is quite a big deal here in New Zealand too. I followed a few of them a few years ago. What amazed me was how little prize money the cowboys received for the amount of abuse their bodies took.

    Most 1st place winnings wouldn’t be over $500; usually around the $150-300 range. When you take in the amount of travel needed and that most hold down fulltime jobs too, they definitely do it for the love of the sport. The best often travel to Australia, Canada and the USA to try to get amongst the big prize money.

    Many of the competitors are from established rodeo families where two or three generations will be competing.

    Over the Xmas/New Year period there is a series of around 9 rodeos in under two weeks in the South Island and all the local shepherds, musterers and farm hands come into town from the large sheep stations to compete. I’ve always been meaning to cover these events and NZ rodeo in general but never have enough time to cover it adequately. I don’t want to end up repeating what thousands of other photographers have already done.

    Cheers everyone.

  56. panos skoulidas

    Lance ,
    U R a class act…
    You work is superb… I wanna point out that there should be no comparison between two photogs… even if in the surface it seems that they are shooting or dealing with the same subject..
    this essay, your approach or Cathy’s rodeo work are 3 DIFFERENT “THINGS”…
    3 different approaches… All needed for different reasons…All can and should exist…
    its useless and dangerous to compare them…
    As a viewer , i want to see ( view ) them all…
    Different philosophies.. INDIVIDUALITY…
    anyways i cant wait for “Thirst for Grit”( hope i spelled it right!) to come up
    peace and hugs

  57. This is an essay after my own heart, I really like the fact that that it was shot along the sidelines. It is such a beautiful & quiet essay, dealing with a less than quiet subject!

    Look forward to seeing more..

    Cheers, Jeremy

  58. I think that this one has the images to put it over the top. While I personally am not really into event photography all that much, I do like many of the singles here.

    Cathy, I think you are being a bit unfair, personally. I mean you concede the fact that you have not shown David much so what can you really expect. Also, to be resentful of being asked questions? Thats silly. Those kinds of questions are meant to push you towards improvement. Do you think you are there already that you dont need to be asked or pushed?

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