It was at this dinky little county fair rodeo, and he had just tried to ride a bull and got thrown off. Now, he’s not just some average bull rider. He made it to the PBR [Professional Bull Riding] finals in 2005; he’s really good, and has a shot at being very successful. But here he is, just having been thrown at this crappy little country fair, beaten, actually, by the boy who won the high school rodeo championship the year before. So, you know, he’s got this 19-year-old on his tail. At the same time, he’s trying to watch after his daughters. His wife, Ileah, also competed in the rodeo—she’s an amateur barrel racer—but you can see in her face that it’s a lot less complicated for her. She wants to smile for the camera, whereas Keith is sort of working it out every minute of every day. It took a lot of time spent not photographing, just listening to him, to get there.
Hamilton’s project is at www.realrural.org.