He’s traveled the world shooting photos of wildlife, landscapes, and its people, but until recently, Tom Cummings had never been to a rodeo.

“I’m not really a rodeo kind of guy,” Cummings admitted.  “But they came to me and asked if I would take photos of the rodeo…so I did.” 

Cummings has been the photographer at the Cushing Community PRCA Rodeo since approached in 2005 and from the looks of his photos, he’s a natural.  From awe inspiring shots of roping and riding, to the face of a child filled with wonder, Cummings captures the sport and the spirit of Rodeo.

“The first couple of years, it was all so new that I focused mainly on the action shots,” Cummings said.  “The challenge was capturing the action.”  More recently, Cummings said he has found himself also concentrating on the unexpected – a close-up of rodeo announcer Justin McKee’s boots, the face of a rider as he gives chase to his catch.  “I still go for the action shots, but I’m looking for the whole package.”

Being a rodeo photographer definitely has its challenges – lighting, shot angle and even a bit of athletics.  “Yes, last year I got hit by the gate while I was leaning out trying to get the right light and catch them as they were coming out of the chute,” Cummings said a bit sheepishly.  While it did land him on his…um…derriere, luckily he wasn’t seriously injured.  “It broke a part on my camera and I bled a little, but I was ok.  I should have known better.”

Cummings said he has been given free reign in the arena to go where he needs to go to get the best shot.  “I can go anywhere I feel ‘man enough’ to go,” he said with a laugh.  “But really I try to just become part of the landscape.  I don’t want to get in the way or spook an animal.” 

This year Cummings said he’s been thinking about different angles, which camera body and lense to use for what, and where he needs to be during the different events.  “I think I’ve pretty much figured those things out.” 

One shot in particular has eluded Cummings so far – that of a bull rider’s hand as he holds on for dear life.  “Those bull riding shots are the hardest,” he said.  “I swear one year, every time I was about to get a great shot, one of those clowns would get between me and the rider.”

Yes, Tom Cummings may not be a cowboy, but undeniably – he’s a heck of a photographer. 

For more information on Tom Cummings and his photography, visit his website at www.trcphotos.com.