Wyoming’s venerable Cheyenne Frontier Days—the largest outdoor rodeo in the world—has been captivating rodeo fans since 1897. For four years, Christy Wilder took in the event from a unique vantage point: the photographer’s pit. The West Virginia native first trained her camera lens on the cowboy way of life when she moved to Cheyenne in 2003.
“I’d never lived in a place that was as Western as it is in Wyoming,” she laughs. “The physician I was working with at the time was also a rancher and invited me to Warren Ranch. I spent the day out there while they were branding and I never wanted to leave. I just fell in love with the Western lifestyle and how beautifully it translates through the camera.”
Photographing Frontier Days puts Wilder up close and personal with the action—sometimes a little too close. Like the time a horse jumped the arena fence and ran right over the top of the photographer’s pit.
“There’s definitely a lot of adrenaline and excitement,” Wilder says of the rodeo and its many outside-the-arena events. “You want to come back for all 10 days in a row. It’s that fun. Everyone should come out to Cheyenne and experience it for themselves.”