Ken Marcinkoski



"If it's rodeo photo's that you want, we probably have them!!"



If you can't ride the bulls anymore, shoot 'em       

Former bronc rider keeps focus on the rodeo circuit with his trusty camera


Sunday, November 13, 2005

EDMONTON -- Ken Marcinkoski has captured all 32 Canadian Finals Rodeo through his camera and the picture is clear -- cowboys have become better athletes and are mentally tougher.


"They're more psyched up now," says Marcinkoski, a 63year-old freelance photographer from Camrose.
"They're more mentally adept to the animal compared to when the CFR first started 30 years ago." Marcinkoski began his career in rodeo photography in 1969. He also worked as a letter carrier, but gave up the mail bag three years ago so he could shoot pictures full-time. In addition to the CFR, he works the Calgary Stampede every year. Rodeo competitors are his main clients. Three decades ago he almost didn't photograph the first CFR because he didn't have enough holiday time from his job, but he was able to make the event. Rodeos have been a big part of Marcinkoski's life. He started bareback and bull riding in the early 1960s. He suffered four concussions. "I found it easier to take pictures -- let's put it that way," he said of his rodeo career. But even behind the camera, Marcinkoski hasn't escaped all of rodeo's hazards. "I've been kicked and run down taking pictures," he said. "I had a saddle-bronc rider fall on top of me off his horse, and I had five stitches on my head. "I got kicked by a bareback horse once, climbing up a chute gate, and I got three stitches on my butt." He said that years ago, he was more familiar with the animals and could better judge how much time he had before he had to leave the area. During the first 10 years of the CFR, Marcinkoski would stand in front of the bull chute with his camera. If the bull got within 10 to 15metres, he knew he had to get out of the way. Photographers are now banned from the infield. Shooting at Rexall Place has become more difficult over the years because suites have been built between the first and second levels, blocking out light."Lighting conditions . . . aren't as good as they used to be," he said. Before, he could shoot good pictures using ISO 400 film without flash. That's not possible anymore. Marcinkoski travels the rodeo circuit each year and wants to continue as long as his body allows it. He said his experiences, meeting people from all over the continent, have made it worthwhile. He's made many friends and has been able to document the sport's  biggest event in Canada. He has thousands of photos on file and is hoping to produce a book of his best pictures. He wanted to make one for the 10th anniversary of the CFR, but was working full-time with the postal service and didn't have enough money to support the project. Now, he's thinking of doing it for the 35th anniversary.

© The Edmonton Journal 2005

Photography Copyright © Ken Marcinkoski.  All Rights Reserved.