Cowboy Photographer: Erwin E Smith
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Rodeo
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The peak of Smith's photography of cowboy life on the open range was from 1905 to 1912. For a brief period during the late 1910s through the early 1920s, however, he turned his attention to rodeo photography. In 1917 he documented the first ever indoor roping and riding competition, held at Fort Worth's Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show rodeo. In 1920 and 1921, he photographed the events and contestants at the Durant and Ardmore rodeos in Oklahoma. Smith had come late to the rodeo photography business, however, and other photographers already had priority at some rodeo grounds. When he expressed interest in photographing at the Second Annual World's Championship Rodeo at Soldier's Field in Chicago, Smith discovered that Ralph Doubleday, the first full-time professional rodeo photographer, had negotiated exclusive rights. Although he never became a distinguished rodeo photographer, Smith's talent at capturing horses and cattle in rodeo action resulted in some memorable images of those early days of the sport.


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