July 11, 2012

Just when I was starting to question my photography and wonder where to head with it next - I had a very un-sublte reminder that photography has taken me on the path to where I am now and has allowed me to meet so many great people along the way and has added this magical serendipitous aspect to my life ... it would have been so dull, so far, without it. It has been a great tool to open the door to so many great moments and travels back in time.

Tavia Stevenson

I happened to be in Wyoming last week visiting a friend who I had met through another friend who worked on my now neighbor's ranch next door who I had originally met and photographed when I was in the Badlands in 1999 in the midst of photographing my GO WEST series and several years before I started working on the ranch and while still living in New York City ... I was standing in the kitchen of a ranch house, and this girl was looking at me and I was looking at her and she said "I know you" and I reciprocated. There was world champion bareback rider and bull rider Tasha Jean Stevenson (now Carter). What a treat to run into her and meet her husband and two babies - and what a different way to see her as a mother now. Here was the photo universe or whatever it was, sending me a message loud and clear to keep at it as I looked at one of the women who had inspired me to go beyond being a just a spectator. I photographed Tavia and her sister Tasha (bareback), her mother Tonya (bareback) and her Hall of Famer & five time World Champion Bareback rider grandmother, Jan Youren, who rode up into her 60's over 5 decades! That was back in 2001 - 2002.  I didn't think I was going to start being a bronc rider in my 30's but I just wanted to experience some version of something - I wasn't sure what yet - but it planted the seed at the time and definitely influenced my path to the West and to ranching.

I look forward to a longer visit and photo session with Tavia and her new family. These women are the REAL DEAL!

Tavia Riding Bareback in Wall, South Dakota

Tavia's sister, Tasha, getting ready to ride bareback in White River, South Dakota

Tavia's Mom and bareback rider Tonya Stevenson of Wheatland Wyoming riding in her 40's

And last, but not least, 5 Time World Chamption Bareback Rider and Hall of Famer and all around supporter of women's rodeo as well as the queen of enduring pain - JAN YOUREN! Tavia's grandmother who competed for the title along with Tavia and her sister and mother.