Life of PBR snap­per

PBR snap­per ex­plains how she se­cured her spot ring side shoot­ing the best in bull rid­ing

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - NEWS - AN­DREA DAVY An­drea.davy@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

IT WAS a stir­ring sense of ad­ven­ture that drew Elise Der­win away from her in­ner-city Syd­ney home to a re­mote Top End buf­falo hunt­ing camp.

Although the shift was a cul­ture shock for the then-vege­tar­ian, she al­most in­stantly fell in love with the North­ern Ter­ri­tory, its land­scapes and its peo­ple.

It was the per­fect spot for sto­ry­tellers, which Elise is, so she later forged a ca­reer as a press pho­tog­ra­pher.

And just over a year ago, it was that same sense of ad­ven­ture that took her away from her per­ma­nent job at the NT News to mak­ing the “plunge” to be­come a free­lancer at Lis­more in North­ern NSW.

She hasn’t looked back and has since se­cured a con­tract as PBR’s ring-side pho­tog­ra­pher.

If you have been to a PBR you might have caught a glimpse of Elise in ac­tion.

It’s her job to float be­hind the shoots and around the arena to cap­ture the thrills, tri­umphs and mo­ments of bull-rid­ing glory.

Her big city days are be­hind her, and this week Elise caught up with the Ru­ral Weekly to talk about buf­faloes, bull rid­ing and build­ing a busi­ness from pho­tog­ra­phy.

Look­ing back, Elise said it wasn’t a hard de­ci­sion to move away from Syd­ney.

“I wanted to go some­where warm,” she joked.

“So what bet­ter way to do that then move to the other end of the coun­try?”

Elise moved north with a plan to drive from Broome to Cairns, and on the way a friend told her a buf­falo-hunt­ing camp was in need of a cook.

Her goal of a seek­ing a warmer cli­mate was achieved ten-fold.

“This was dur­ing the build up sea­son, the rains hadn’t come yet, and it was heat I had never felt be­fore,” she said.

“And it was re­ally iso­lated, I had gone from the mid­dle of Syd­ney one day, then the next day I was in com­plete iso­la­tion.

“So it was 12 hours by car to get there from the near­est town.

“I was vege­tar­ian at the time so work­ing in a buf­falo hunt­ing camp was pretty con­fronting.

“I had to re­main pretty open-minded, I had to ac­cept it all for what it was – it was a com­pletely dif­fer­ent world.”

While a chal­lenge, Elise said her stint in East Arn­hem was ex­actly what she needed.

“It felt like home,” she said.

❝Bulls can bash up against the side of the fence though, so you can’t ever be too com­fort­able, you have to be ready to sprint.

— Elise Der­win

“I ended up lov­ing it and end­ing up eat­ing lots of game meat, lots of bar­ra­mundi, kan­ga­roo and buf­falo.”

Elise al­ways had her cam­era on her, and said her time in the north fu­elled her pas­sion for pho­tog­ra­phy.

“Be­ing up there ig­nited some­thing in me to find a way to make a liv­ing from it,” she said.

“I think mov­ing from Syd­ney to the North­ern Ter­ri­tory just cat­a­pulted me into want­ing to make a change in that re­spect.”

Elise moved to Dar­win and se­cured a job as a pho­tog­ra­pher for the NT News, later work­ing her way up to be­com­ing the news­pa­per’s photo ed­i­tor.

How­ever, last year she made an­other bold choice and stepped away from the se­cu­rity of a full-time job.

“I took the plunge and left ev­ery­thing,” she said.

“I left my whole net­work in Dar­win and my job, I moved to a new place and crossed my fin­gers.”

Shoot­ing the bull ride in Dar­win was al­ways a fun job, so Elise jumped at the chance when PBR gen­eral man­ager Glen Young asked her to come on board with them.

Elise de­scribed her role as fast paced and job where you are “con­stantly look­ing over your shoul­der”.

“You have to check there are no bulls com­ing,” she said.

“I have been do­ing it for 12 months for them and I am find­ing ev­ery time I go to an event I find some­thing new.

“I never feel like it’s run of the mill.”

Elise’s work has shed a dif­fer­ent light on bull rid­ing, her pic­tures high­light the ca­ma­raderie be­tween the com­peti­tors and of­ten put a big­ger fo­cus on the bull’s ath­leti­cism.

She has learnt a lot about the sport, and now has favourite bulls to shoot.

“There is one called Bee Sting and he al­ways jumps so

high, and he al­ways hits the rail,” she said.

“You can get some good shots with him.

“And Sweet Pro’s Hill­billy Deluxe, that’s a good one too.

“They are my two favourites and I al­ways rush to get them. But I mean at the level of PBR they are all pretty good.”

As for the rid­ers, Elise said most of the time they were “pretty shy” sub­jects.

“They tend to be quite re­served. But I don’t want them to be en­gag­ing with me ei­ther, be­cause I am doc­u­ment­ing what they are do­ing.”

Elise said when work­ing be­hind the shoots she aims to be swift, but not too fast that she is dis­turb­ing rid­ers or bulls.

“It’s im­por­tant to be aware the rid­ers are get­ting into their head space,” she said.

“They are about to be do­ing some­thing that’s pretty dan­ger­ous.”

Elise has found the per­fect spot to cap­ture that iconic bull-rid­ing image, about half­way down from the shoots around the arena.

“Bulls can bash up against the side of the fence though, so you can’t ever be too com­fort­able, you have to be ready to sprint,” she said.

The key to sports pho­tog­ra­phy, she said, was learn­ing to an­tic­i­pate what would hap­pen next so you are ready for the shot.

“I can nor­mally pre­dict this now by watch­ing how the bulls move,” she said.

There is a risk of arena photos start­ing to look the same, so Elise makes it her goal to hunt for new frames.

“You are al­ways look­ing in your pe­riph­er­als too just to make sure there is noth­ing you are miss­ing,” she said.

“While the bull ride is hap­pen­ing there could be 10 other things hap­pen­ing, whether it’s in the crowd, or with the bull rid­ers – there is a lot to be told with their story.”

Elise will be work­ing at the PBR right up un­til the grand fi­nals in Townsville on Novem­ber 23-24.

She was ex­cited to men­tion that she will be about eight months preg­nant at that time.

“So I will be big then... I prob­a­bly won’t fit be­hind the shoots,” she laughed.

Now liv­ing in Lis­more with her part­ner, Elise was keen to see how her ca­reer would progress.

There is no nine-to-five as a pho­tog­ra­pher, but that’s why she en­joys it.

“There is no Mon­day to Fri­day with pho­tog­ra­phy, you just work when there is work. And that’s good,” she said.

“And I am al­ways trav­el­ling which I love, it’s one of my favourite things about my work.

“With the PBR I know when the dates are and when I will be away.

“It can be chal­leng­ing when you are in a re­la­tion­ship and you are away all the time.

“But I might be away a lot for one month, then the next month not so much.”

PHOTOS: ELISE DER­WIN

TOP SHOT: Ethan Watts on Bee Sting at theNew­cas­tle In­vi­ta­tional.

Beau Wills hung up on Light Em Up at the Shep­par­ton In­vi­ta­tional.

Elise high­lights the be­hind the scenes of bull rid­ing.

PHOTO: IVAN RACH­MAN

Pho­tog­ra­pher Elise Der­win.

PHOTOS: ELISE DER­WIN

IN A SNAP: Rid­ers Toby and Os­car Leake stand proud.

Rider Fraser Bab­bing­ton in­tro­duced at the Pro­fes­sional Bull Rid­ers New­cas­tle In­vi­ta­tional.

Pro­tec­tion ath­letes swoop on Jay Borghero and Hells Bells.

A rider gets a help­ing hand from com­peti­tors.

Tully rider Michael Smith on Jump­ing Jack at the Pro­fes­sional Bull Rid­ing Tam­worth In­vi­ta­tional.

Cezar Quaresma. get­ting ride ready.

Brock Rad­ford in the spot­light.

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