A day in the life of Isa’s famous rodeo features in new book

With Mount Isa’s rodeo just weeks away, leading Australian photographer Simon Upton is shining the spotlight on the country’s most famous rodeo by featuring it in his new book, Tough Stock.

According to Upton, who visited Mount Isa to photograph the 2012 rodeo, “When I started planning the book, everyone told me I had to go to Mount Isa for rodeo  – it’s the one all the cowboys want to win – the equivalent of the Olympics, the biggest in the southern hemisphere.”

So last year he swapped his usual high fashion and advertising shoots to follow the national rodeo circuit to capture scenes for his coffee table book on Australian rodeos.

Candid shots of the Xstrata Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo will feature strongly in the 190 page book which is in the final stages of production.

Known for his local and international portraiture and international magazine work, Upton has photographed stars like Cindy Crawford, Naomi Watts, Christy Turlington, Renee Zellwegger and Cate Blanchett for the pages of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue.

But it was a fashion shoot for Myer featuring former Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins in Narrandera, NSW, which led to an invitation to shoot its annual rodeo and sparked the idea for the book.

From tiny Outback rodeos to the biggest in the southern hemisphere in Mount Isa, Upton has spent 18 months putting together his book, which he says is more like a photographic essay showing life on the rodeo circuit.

The former Olympian swimmer says he was just starting to follow the Australian rodeo trail, when he realised it would be essential to visit the Mount Isa rodeo. While in the Isa, he also captured images of the last boxing tent in Australia, owned by Fred Brophy.

While his more customary work of fashion and advertising shoots will keep him away from this year’s Mount Isa rodeo being held from August 9 to 11, Upton says he loved the freedom of shooting rodeos around the country.

“There’s not an image that is set up,” he said. “I loved every second, loved not having a fashion director or an art director, it was total freedom.”

The 44-year-old former Olympic swimmer represented Australia at the Seoul Olympics and first picked up a camera after failing to qualify for the Barcelona Olympics. Tough Stock will be launched on November 15, rrp $70. For details visit www.simonuptonfoto.com

For more information on the Xstrata Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo visit www.isarodeo.com.au  or phone (07) 4743 2706.  Follow us on www.facebook.com/isarodeowww.twitter.com/isarodeo and www.youtube.com/mountisarotaryrodeo

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