In the livestock barns of the 2013 Fort Worth Stock Show, I shot portraits of animals that seemed distinctly human. The caregivers, often children and teenagers, seemed eager to pose with their animals. For many of these youngsters, the sale of an animal at the stock show means money for college. The young people dressed as boys might have in 1896, the year of the first show, in plaid shirts, cowboy hats, and cowboy boots, yet the iPhones they all carried updated the images to 2013 and the internet age. A close-up of a teenager’s iPhone reveals him sexting, which made me reconsider the nature of the youthful energy I was capturing.
The stock show photographs are necessarily of a documentary nature, since they are looking at a social phenomenon, a rodeo tradition from the 19th century as it intersects with the internet age. This intersection of a 19th-century tradition with the internet age raises all kinds of questions about the very concept of tradition and how a tradition must update itself in order to remain a tradition.