Purvis, MS | March 12-13, 2021

I think posting blogs a week after the rodeo is just going to be a new unintentional routine! I tryyy to work on them during the week but with college, it feels impossible to set aside the hour it takes to make a blog post.

Excuses, excuses.

Anyways, what this blog is about: Purvis rodeo March 12th and 13th. If you seen my other post about the purvis arena, you know I struggle here. And while I don’t struggle as much as I used to here, I still struggle. This arena is just SO dark, so now that even though I have a camera and lens that is capable to generating enough light, nailing the focus is difficult because half the time my camera can barely tell where to focus at all.

More excuses, I know. So now what you’re here for, my favorites from this weekend!

All of these are from the junior high rodeo, and I really do like how this rodeo’s pictures turned out! The lighting is, of course, not perfect but I did manage to be able to edit most of them to the point where I am happy with them! The roping pictures in particular were challenging to edit because I had to underexpose the rider and horse in order so there wasn’t a terrible glare from outside the arena.

So now on to the high school rodeo:

So, those aren’t terrible, right??

If you are looking on a phone, anyways.. on a bigger screened tablet or desktop, they are sooo noisy. Not to the point where you can barely tell what is what, but there is a lot of noise. (Don’t quote me) but I think I was at around 10,000 ISO most of the night.

Aside from looking at the pictures, from a personal aspect, I was sooo burnt out after the junior high rodeo. So if you tried to talk to me Saturday night and I was a little off, blame the 5 hour long junior high rodeo that morning. Just kidding, pretty sure I faked my tiredness off pretty well!

This weekend will be the third weekend in a row I’ve shot a rodeo and I’m hoping I am conditioning myself somewhat to not get so tired by the end of the day. I have 6 more weekends of shooting, and I’ll finally be getting a little bit of a break. That makes an entire 2 months of shooting every weekend!!

Feeling very blessed lately!!

If you made it to this point in the blog with all my rambling, thank you for reading! I’ll be back after the Poplarville rodeo tonight and tomorrow!

-JS ❤

Poplarville, MS | March 5-6, 2021

Wooo, first full rodeo weekend that’s been on the blog!!

March 5th and 6th was the Mississippi Junior High and High School Rodeo, and I was at all 3 shows! Staying up late Friday night and then getting back up on Saturday morning for the junior high rodeo just about killed me, but it was all worth it! From this weekend alone, I had so many new customers as well as so many amazing loyal returning customers that bought pictures!

A few favorites from Friday night:

I was really nervous about Friday, for literally no reason. I’ve never shot from in the arena so for some reason I was nervous about that, but of course, everyone was super nice and allowed me to shoot in there no problem. I got on the bucking chutes for steer wrestling and stayed their for barrels, and it honestly wasn’t my favorite spot. The pictures don’t look BAD but the higher angle is just not he most flattering especially when most the contestants have hats on so their faces are covered. For slack, I moved over to shoot with first barrel and I really liked the images there a lot more!! So much I stayed there for the junior high and high school barrels on Saturday.

So now, let’s wrap up the high school rodeo with my favorites from Saturday:

By the time Saturday night rolled around, I had already shot for a combined 8 hours total from the junior high and Friday night high school so I was feeling pretty confident. I did get the random idea to stand by the roping boxes for calf roping and I have to say I LOVED this angle. Probably not an angle I’ll do all the time (it does get redundant after a while) but I do like it for occasional or more creative shots.

And now, the junior high rodeo.

Shooting the junior high rodeos are not for the faint of heart. They last ALLLL day, and getting burnt out is so easy. However, I did manage to stick it out and shoot 14 out of 15 events (more than I’ve ever done in the past) and get some really good shots!

All in all, a really successful weekend hanging out at the rodeo! I’m very late getting around to posting this, so tonight is actually the first performance of the Purvis high school rodeo!

-JS ❤

Lumberton, MS | Feb. 28, 2021

FINALLY back to shooting outdoors in some natural light!! I posted on my Instagram story that this is my favorite arena to shoot at, and I meant it! The pictures are always gorgeous and dreamy! The good light also allows my workhorse of a lens to have a day off and not having to struggle to focus through a bunch of glare and shadows.

This jackpot was the first of a series that Candy Parkinson is having at her arena and I’m so excited to shoot them!! Every time I shoot there I always say, “Okay, these are my favorite roping pictures I’ve taken.” and I say that EVERY SINGLE TIME I go there because I swear they just look better and better!!

The arena was a little dusty and (even though I had to wipe my lens down after every run) it made these big stops look even better!! Like I said, this is one of the only outdoor pens I get to shoot at so I always love love to come here. And it helps that I either know everyone and the people I don’t know are sooo nice!!

-JS ❤

Lucedale, MS | Feb. 27, 2021

This blog has just became a journal of documenting how the day went and I’m pretty okay with that!!

I posted about this barrel race last week and said I struggled, which is true. I can into this barrel race with a new game plan and a new attitude.

First things first though, had to take pictures of the awards.

Not much to say about the awards ceremony, everything went pretty smooth and I’m very proud of how my little off brand 50mm does for me!! I plan to buy some more lenses from this brand, as I’ve been really impressed with how its done for me the last few months.

Now… on to the barrel race. Some friends of mine came for exhibitions so I was able to play around with my settings a lot before the run started, which I’m so glad I did. I ended up using my external flash for the entire run, and the pictures looked SO much better. Worst part about the flash is you only get a couple shots from the entire run, which leads to less options for the riders to look through when going to buy.

Anyways, here’s my favorites from the day!!

After a while, the second barrel shot started to feel really repetitive but the nature of the flash pretty much gave me no option but to stay rooted to where I was. Overall, I’m really happy with these images and enjoyed getting to spend the day at this event! Everyone was so nice and seeing some friends was awesome as well!

Next time I’ll be back in Lucedale with be in April for the Friday night saddle series that starts soon!

-JS ❤

Purvis, MS | Feb. 21, 2021

Pretty sure there’s a rule not to upload two blog posts in one day… oh well. I’m WAYYY behind on uploading these so enjoy the double post!!

Like I said a couple posts back, the Purvis arena and I go way back. On this day, I was shooting a breakaway roping in the day and felt pretty confident going in. Shooting roping events is something that I’ve gotten really comfortable with (I’ve shot more ropings than barrel races in my photography career!!) so I already had a position in mind and how I wanted the pictures to look.

These aren’t all my favorites, but just a few from the day!! I really loved shooting and watching the girls tie down at the end of the roping!! I’m about some woman power and seeing those girls do a “man’s” event was sooo refreshing.

Some critiques from the day: I made the mistake of leaving my camera settings totally wrong for the first 5-10 girls. I had a really high shutter speed (I don’t remember exactly but it was over 1/1000ths for sure) from when I was shooting outside before the roping started which in turn lead to using a really high ISO so some of the first images are REALLLY noisy. If you don’t have the photographer’s eye, you probably won’t notice because my camera handles the high ISO honestly pretty well. But this is just a more personal note for myself for the future!!

As of this blog post, I’m shooting another roping tomorrow and I’m super excited about it!!

-JS ❤

Lucedale, MS | Feb. 20, 2021

The official start of my routine blogs after shoots!! Today’s post is all about a barrel race I shot last weekend in Lucedale. I’d honestly only been to this pen a couple times and that was years ago so I didn’t really know fully what to expect here.

To summarize the entire day: major learning experience

Not going to lie to y’all, I struggled here. And I think that reflects in the pictures. Just about every drag I was getting up and moving to a new spot in the arena to attempt to not get some of that horrible glare coming from the sun. And once I thought I had finally figured out the glare situation… the sun started to set. And the arena was positioned so allll that sunshine when straight into the arena making it even harder to shoot. However, once the sun went down, I was back to my normal spot by the second barrel and finally in my comfort spot.

So, obviously, like I said before, I struggled here. But I’m not mad about it, I learned a lot about my camera and even forced myself to play around with some new settings that I’ve never thought to touch before.

I’m not going to lie and say this is my favorite gallery I’ve posted, because it’s not. I’m always proud of the images I take, but I know that these could be so, so much better. I’m shooting again at this same arena this upcoming weekend so I’ll be coming with some new gear and a new game plan!!

Thank you everyone that bought pictures from this barrel race, I really appreciate it!! I was so fortunate to have found another event to shoot after the high school/junior high got rescheduled, so I’m very grateful to even have been able to go and shoot this barrel race (struggles and all). This is my main job and when things get cancelled or rescheduled, it puts me in a very difficult situation so I was so happy to have found this barrel race to shoot at!!

Thank you all for the support, as always.

-JS ❤

Tackling the Monster that is the Purvis Arena’s lighting

So, if you’re not a crazy photographer, you might not notice this but the Purvis arena is DARK. I have a theory that is has to do with how dark red the dirt is and how far the lights are from the ground, but that’s rather boring to talk about and I’m sure you don’t really care that much anyways.

However, this has a lot to do with pictures at this arena. And as someone who photographed their first rodeo at the Purvis arena, I can vouch for just how challenging it is to shoot their.

Anyways, back to what this blog post is about: my journey with shooting in this arena.

Like I said before, my first attempt at rodeo photography was at this pen. And boy oh boy, that was a rough place to start. I had only owned my camera for about a couple months and I didn’t have the “eye” to really tell how the lighting situation was. I thought since it looks bright enough to my eyes, it’ll be bright on camera, right? I was wrong. So incredibly wrong. See pictures below for reference to the tragedy.

Scarily awful, right? To be honest, I thought these were amazing when I took them. I was so proud of myself. Looking back, I was clearly having some problems to think these were remotely good. I did give them away for free, so I suppose at least I don’t have the guilt of charging for these images.

Starting to figure things out…

Flash forward: it’s November 2020 now. I had successfully avoided shooting at this arena at night like it was the plague. That night in March left me mentally scarred and I just didn’t know if I was ready to try something like that again.

But, as a stubborn kid, I knew I had to defeat this monster somehow. I had recently purchased a new camera (my favorite child, the Canon 70D) and I have a new game plan. I knew the limitations of my old 4000D would never have the ISO capabilities to shoot there, so the new camera was a must.

After that rodeo in March, I had actually purchased a decent telephoto lens: the Tamron 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6. I bought it used, and honestly paid maybe $50 for it. This was my ONLY zoom lens at the time, as the only other one I had was a 50mm f/1.8. The

November 2020. Purvis, MS
Gear used: Canon 70D and Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6

Now, before we dive too deep into it, let’s appreciate how much BETTER this image is than the one in March. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. But it’s such a major improvement and I was so, so proud of these images because I knew that I finally had a setup that could take decent pictures at this arena.

Now let’s critique it.

First of all, this picture is NOISYYY. If you’re not a photographer, it basically means it looks “fuzzy” and not really clear. If you zoom in it’s really hard to tell specific things apart. I no longer have the original file, so this is after edits and actually reducing some of the noise. The noise comes from being forced to use a really high ISO due to a higher shutter speed and aperture. Even now, I think I did the best I could with the gear I had for this night.

The monster that is this arena was slowly being defeated. I just need a bit better lens.

The finale (for now, at least)

Whew, only a month later and boy oh boy have we made some changes. After the weekend in November I shot that rodeo, I finally had saved up the money and courage to purchase myself the iconic 70-200 f/2.8.

And now, we’re pretty much all caught up on my little journey with taking pictures at this arena!! The new lens was a game changer for sure and I’m so happy I finally bit the bullet and bought it. There was a learning curve to figuring it out, but I am ready for my next time to shoot there even more!

There is a junior high and high school rodeo here next weekend where I will hopefully take even better photos than before!!

January 30 | Columbia JH/HS Rodeo

Yeah, yeah, this rodeo was over a week ago but I started this blog today so we’re rolling with it. Okay? Okay.

I was a bit nervous about going to this rodeo, as I had never been to the Columbia arena before but I’m really happy I went! Indoor pens tend to have better lighting situations than just covered arenas so the lighting was definitely on my side for these. This was my third time using my new lens and, of course, it worked beautifully!! The arena was set up less than ideal for a photographer, with the alley for the cattle on the left side of the alley. This made getting pole pictures and goat tying pictures a little bit more tricky, but I liked the challenge of being forced to be creative!! I always tell myself I stand in the same spot too often anyways haha

Below are just a FEW favorites from both rodeos.

View high school rodeo photos here.
View junior high rodeo photos here.

Welcome to the blog!

Hey, everybody!! Welcome to the NEW blog!

I’ve tried having a blog a couple times in the past, but I wasn’t consistently taking enough pictures to update it enough BUTTT 2021 is going to be a lot different than 2020 and I have so many more rodeos and events scheduled than ever before!

I suppose the normal thing to do in these things is to introduce myself, right?

Hi, there. My name is Jessica Smith. Here’s some boring facts:

  • I’m 19 (20 in March)
  • I live in Poplarville, MS.
  • I started photography in November of 2019.
  • I barrel race with my horse Spanky.
  • I’ve been apart of rodeo my entire life.
  • I’m a college student majoring in Finance.
  • I love all things western fashion.
  • I didn’t really like rodeo pictures at first. (obviously that changed though)

Despite what that last bullet says, rodeo photography is now my passion. I love the variety of events and the ability to make no two images look the exact same. I hate cookie cutter photos that pretty much make an entire event look the same.

During the week when I’m not playing in the dirt, I can normally be found glued to my laptop doing online classes at the University of Southern Mississippi (#SMTTT!!). I’m a full time student and a part time photographer, so to say.

I love getting to talk and get to know new people, so feel free to reach out to me anytime!! I have a contact form on this site, but I also check my Facebook and Instagram messages often. Looking forward to hearing from you!!