One of Australia’s top fashion and portrait photographers, Simon Upton will swap high fashion shoots for rodeo chutes at next month’s Xstrata Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo.
Known for his local and international portraiture and international magazine work, Upton has photographed Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Renee Zellwegger, Cate Blanchett, Eva Longoria, Naomi Watts, Jennifer Hawkins and many other instantly recognisable faces.
He will touch down in Mount Isa to capture the people and spirit of the biggest rodeo in the southern hemisphere – this year being held from August 10 to 12 – for a book on Australian rodeos.
The 43-year-old former Olympic swimmer competed in the Seoul Olympics and first picked up a camera after failing to qualify for the Barcelona Olympics.
Upton said he was looking forward to experiencing Mount Isa’s famous rodeo.
“The book isn’t a specific history of rodeo, more a photographic essay which is like a day in the life on the circuit,” said Simon. “I’m as interested in capturing the essence of the people around rodeo and its spirit, not just the riders.”
Xstrata Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo Manager Patricia Esdaile said she looked forward to welcoming the talented photographer to Mount Isa over rodeo week.
“The Mount Isa rodeo has a long and proud history of inspiring artists as diverse as photographers of Simon’s world-class calibre to Slim Dusty who wrote several songs based around our rodeo,” she said.
The Isa rodeo (www.facebook.com/isarodeo) has a 5000-plus Facebook fan base who want to keep in touch either because they are coming to this year’s rodeo or have been in the past, according to Ms Esdaile. “Social media works strongly for our event because rodeo really touches people at a very personal level.”
“In the lead up to this year’s event, people have been sharing their favourite memories, photographs and songs and we realised how much the Mount Isa rodeo has been an inspiration to many artists.”
Ms Esdaile said Isa rodeo Facebook fans had recently shared memories as diverse as Slim Dusty’s song, “Mt Isa Rodeo” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WImEEHPfR_A&feature=youtu.be), rodeo photographs from the 70s and 80s and through Twitter, Ian Quinn’s song “The Dust of the Kalkadoon”.
“There have also been a number of rodeo-themed photographic exhibitions over the years,” she said. “It’s really exciting how much our event has inspired artists to record their memories and lots of people to continue to enjoy sharing their rodeo memories. It shows how much rodeo is part of our history and our culture – it’s much more than just an event.”
Highlights of this year’s rodeo include three days of world-class arena action, plus entertainment headlined by Busby Marou, country singer Shea Fisher, Fred Brophy’s Outback boxing troupe, a Friday night mardi gras parade, a race meeting and bush poet breakfasts.
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