Bull riding is considered by many to be the most dangerous sport. Being on top of an animal fifteen times their weight, a rider is required to stay on a bull for eight seconds to be considered for score. I chose to photograph riders right before and after their rides. Contrasting the overtly masculine, outer appearance, there was a greater image of vulnerability coming through this collection of portraits. These men appeared like young boys. This uneasiness of the riders contradicts this hyper-masculine culture. Perceived weakness is looked down upon within these groups of men. This fragile side of the riders is apparent “backstage” before and after their rides in the arena. Experiencing this clash of two opposing sides in a stereotypical masculine sport fascinates me. A seemingly masculine appearance layers over the bull riders’ fragility, showing them as both powerful and boyish. The resulting photographs attempt to investigate the undisclosed contradictions of hyper-masculinity in America through rodeo culture.
Jake Dockins (b. 1996) is a photographic artist based in Denton, Texas. He is interested in identity, perceived realities, and the fabricated nature of photographs. His work takes shape as exhibition installations, which have recently been exhibited at 500X Gallery and the Colorado Photographic Arts Center among others. Jake is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography at the University of North Texas. You can view more of his work here.