As we planned the marketing for the 2010 Week Ride, I came up with a few visual concepts to bring to the table. Then the Cycle O creative team gathered, someone said, “We should use the rodeo’s bucking bronco logo, but make it a guy riding a bike,” and thus ended the shortest creative meeting in history. How are you going to beat that? The resulting illustration was an instant hit, and it adorned the best-selling jersey in the history of the event.
But one of those first ideas stuck with me, and I happened to mention it on a phone call with Yolanda Lennon of the Pendleton Chamber of Commerce: “I was picturing a cowboy and a cyclist, standing at a bar at the Round-Up – one in blue jeans, one in lycra, side by side.” (OK, full disclosure: I told her my initial idea: to shoot a close-up of just their backsides. See, the contrast would be all that much more apparent. A cheeky approach, no?)
She loved the idea. And then she made it happen. While we were in town, she arranged for us to have access to one of the bars at Hamley’s for an hour before it opened, and she rustled up a real-life cowboy (Justin Pearce, son of Hamley’s owner Parley Pearce and a competitor in the rodeo) as a model.
A couple days before we hit Pendleton, I saw Arthur Hung, a Cycle Oregon rider I’ve known for a few years, out on the road. Seeing as my wife had previously and quickly ruled me out as a potential model (“Sorry, honey, but you just don’t have enough butt”), I had been, um, scouting for a few days. When I asked Art, who as you can see is quite fit, if he was interested in doing some “modeling,” he was, naturally, intrigued. OK, actually I had to sell him a bit by saying he would end up with something cool he could show the little ones when he was old and wrinkled. I may have mentioned that his face wouldn’t be in view. Anyway, he’s an amazingly good sport, and he agreed to give it a shot.
I had already lined up a pro shooter – Phil Bard, another loyal CO rider I met a few years back – and had arranged for his equipment to be hauled to Pendleton. And so it was that while tens of thousands of people were lined up on the streets outside to watch the rodeo parade, a small group of us gathered in a cool barroom to make a picture.
After we decided that a full-body shot might work better (although I believe some tight shots do actually exist), we set everything up accordingly. If you’ve ever been on a photo shoot, you know that that means 55 minutes of set-up – plugging things in, checking light levels, fussing with backgrounds, moving the models in one-inch increments – for five minutes of shooting.
But Justin and Art were troupers, leaning on the bar and casually chatting as we scurried around and conferred and told them to tilt their heads a little bit more this way. And, although the photo was a piece of artifice – a totally staged meeting of two people who likely would never have met under any other circumstances – it looks great.
And then I strolled around town that morning watching the rest of the parade, and the people watching the parade. And later, bikers and buckaroos stood in food lines together and sat in the same row of rodeo grandstands and (so I heard) closed down some local bars together. And I think our photo actually became an embodiment of one of the foundations of Cycle Oregon: taking people to places they’ve never been, where they can get to know people they’ve never met. It was art imitating life.
Note: We have some extra 8 x 10 prints of this iconic picture, and we’ll have them on hand and for sale ($20 unframed or $30 framed) at the Kickoff Party. If we sell out of the available photos, we’ll take orders for additional prints ($20 unframed, $10 shipping).
Photo by Phil Bard, Copyright 2010