Dear Roper

Buy the Photo: An Inside Look at the May 2024 Issue
Preserving the moments that matter.
Justin Davis spins his first-round steer for Clay Cooper at the 2013 NFR. Read his story linked below. | Hubbell Rodeo photos

Dear Roper, 

On the cover: Ketch Kelton continued his hot streak at the NTR Finals in Wickenburg.
Photo by Kari deCastro

I don’t mean to brag, but I have a superpower. It’s one that matters not at all to most of the rest of the world, but it serves me well here in this very specific job as editor of this magazine. 

I have an uncanny ability to remember every photo I’ve ever seen in my 14 years (this month!) with this magazine: I know on which one of my dozens of hard drives they live, and I know who took them (90% of the time, anyway) just based on the way the file is named and the composition of the shot. 

I know, you’re really impressed. 

The magic in this, though, is that I can pull photos for Kory Koontz’s musings about developing horsemanship, even without any of the fancy trappings of an arena, so I can again remind the next generation about Kory’s great horses like LB and Switchblade. This superpower also let me remember the time I invited these kids who’d just won the College Finals—Billy Bob Brown and Logan Medlin—to our first photo shoot at Ryan Motes’ house in Weatherford. Now, 11 years later, that photo shows a before-and-after of Logan’s heeling to teach you how to up your game.

When we decided to do a story about NFR header Justin Davis and his boys (eloquently penned on page 60 by Contributing Editor Julie Mankin), I remembered those first NFR pictures of Justin with Clay Cooper. I remembered the photo shoot with Justin roping at Motes’ house, and I remembered all the recent win pics of those boys after all of the hardship they’ve overcome. You’ll need to read that story to truly understand. 

Thanks to our photographers who’ve spent years in dusty arenas, I was also able to compile for the family of late NFR switchender Quinn Kesler memories of great heel loops, practice-pen smiles and his amazing reaches, too. 

Anyway, after seven years of writing this column every month, I’m certain I’ve touched on the topic of photography more than once, but it’s worth the reminder: Buy the photo. Whether you’re just making it your phone screensaver or having it printed on a canvas to cover your living room wall, you won’t regret it. 

Chelsea

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