Rodeo is a company driven along by photographs. Documenting rides with a camera started a few years before we got going and was for me motivated by the fact that I didn’t have enough time to be a stand-alone hobbyist photographer and also a cyclist, so I merged the two by always having some sort of camera in my right rear jersey pocket no matter what sort of ride I was on. It started with just my phone and the Instagram app. Then I added external lenses to the phone, then I got a gopro, then I got tired of the gopro so I experimented with various point and shoot cameras. Eventually I sometimes even lugged around a full size DSLR on a specially made strap or I brought along my small drone to try to take compelling aerial photos. Taking a photograph on a ride is not hugely challenging and it is quite common these days. “If you didn’t take a photo did it even happen?” is a common joke that has an edge of cynicism. Are we taking photos of rides as a desperate cry for attention or to brag? I’ve certainly done that at times, more often in the earlier years of my cycling photo life. But more often than not I’m taking a photo on a ride because I’m so excited about the moment or the place that I’m experiencing and I want to capture that moment for later and pass it along to others. Sharing the thrill of a ride, the landscape, and the company is a wonderful challenge to take on with a camera and most of the time I actually fail at that attempt to share. 97 out of 100 photos I take go directly to the trash on my computer. Of the three that I might keep only one has the chance of being a photo I’m genuinely excited about, a photo that has the potential to communicate through a tiny phone screen or larger computer monitor what it felt like for me to be there. I think anyone who has attempted to take and share a photo has experienced this challenge. At the peak of a sublime moment of a ride or at the crest of a hill we’re overcome with how good a moment it is and we reach for the camera. We take the photo and review it later only to be deeply disappointed that the photo captures almost none of it, none of that magic that we felt when we were THERE. But when you somehow by some miracle capture that moment and it isn’t dismembered as it filters through a lens, a camera sensor, an image processing chip, and a storage card you feel a pretty huge sense of satisfaction. That’s it! That is what it was actually like to be there! That’s a special image and in Rodeo’s case those are the images that in a large part have built this company and community.
When people ask “Where are you from” it is always interesting to observe how the responses unfold. If a person has lived in the same place their entire life then the answer is of course quite simple but that seems to be the case less and less these days. Now we live in a transient world. People relocate constantly for any number of reasons. Where we are from is open to interpretation anymore.
As for me, I was born in North Hollywood, California… but I only lived there for a matter of months before my parents moved to my father’s childhood home in Ohio. We stayed there for a few years before, I’m not sure exactly how, my parents took a trip to the Northwest corner of the USA. I’m pretty sure the story goes something like “we saw the Columbia River Gorge and knew we had found our new home”. So, promptly thereafter we relocated in Vancouver, Washington which, if you look at a map is neither in Washington DC or Vancouver BC. It’s right across the river from Portland, Oregon but dare I say it is culturally much further than a few miles from Portland. Vancouver is a bit of a sleepy eddy next to Portland’s raging torrent. Things move slower there, it isn’t as “cool” in almost any measurable way, but I think the people who live there have a certain pride in their identity, of being a small town next to a big city. I spent most of my formative years in Vancover, but our family also detoured to Argentina for a couple of years in the middle of that. Argentina opened my eyes to the fact that the outside world is not the USA. The USA is very different from the rest of the world, a bubble of sorts.