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'Greatest sport there is': PBR photographer reflects on three decades of experience

Posted at 6:05 PM, Apr 14, 2024

BILLINGS — In the dirt and on the ground, that's how professional PBR photographer Andy Watson captures his photos. His is a talent that didn't appear overnight. Watson has nearly thirty years of rodeo photography experience under his belt.

“I grew up around horses and tried my hand at riding. Was not good at riding bulls. Was not much better at riding bucking horses,” Watson said Saturday at MetraPark.

There was something else that the Three Forks resident found that he was great at.

A photo by Andy Watson

“It’s my job to hunt photos I call it. I’m always looking, I’m always trying to find interactions with guys, interactions with cowboys and fans, or fans and sponsors," said Watson.

It was back in 1996 when the self taught photographer first got his foot in the door at MetraPark, selling the photos he captured of the Nile Rodeo to the PBR.

“I jumped in with both feet. I had no money. I was buying airplane tickets all over the country and trying to sell 8 by 10s to the riders and tried to make ends meet. 29 years later, here we are,” Watson added.

Now, Watson and his wife Jacey own Bull Stock Media based out of Bozeman. Founded in 2009, the media production company offers a variety of services from real estate to landscape photography. Bull Stock Media is also the official photographer of the PBR.

Andy Watson

“I’m coming up within the next year, I’ll hit 700 premiere series events, not counting all the rodeos, challengers tours, and the other events that I’ve done,” said Watson.

He's seen all the changes when it comes to his art and the sport.

“The speed of photography has changed. The cameras have changed. And it’s good because with social media, all the needs with photography, it’s all instant. Everyone wants it right now,” Watson said.

There's a reason why he's spent over 230 days out of the year on the road for nearly three decades.

“This is the greatest sport there is. I love being here. I love everything about the cowboys, the bulls, the stock contractors, the crew that puts this whole thing on. It’s a job, but it’s not a real job. It’s a fun job,” said Watson.

A photo by Andy Watson

Bull Stock Media also produces two bull-riding events each year, one in Livingston and one in Big Sky.

"This year, July 13, we got all these great bull-riders. We got pretty much the same staff that comes to all these. It's an incredible event, you get to watch the sun set on Lone Peak and feel that warm summer air in July. It's awesome," Watson added.