Diana Mantis - Rodeo
Diana Mantis - Rodeo
LA Photographer, Diana Matis talks about life as a spectator at the Rodeo, and how it triggered an unexpected journey of the love for a life through a lens.
I was born in Arlington, Virginia and moved to Los Angeles with my parents and 3 siblings when I was about 5. I remember picking up my parent’s old camcorder a lot and filming my family members at a young age but didn’t start shooting regularly until I was about 13. Photography was always a hobby for me, it was really hard for me to consider myself a photographer or tell people I was a photographer for a long time.
I took "photo 1" for film when I was 15 at Pasadena Art Center. I had tested out of High School early and started to miss studying so I figured I might as well learn more about photography. The one artist that really stood out for me was Francesca Woodman. I was in love with her style, the way her photos made me feel. I don’t even shoot like her, but I felt like I understood her.
As I got older I shifted into doing more surrealist-type photography, shooting for about 20 minutes to get one photo and then editing it for 3 hours. I had a few art shows but never did much with them and was generally speaking, inhibited about it.
The Rodeo was the first real job I took as a photographer. A friend of mine asked me to shoot it monthly and my immediate response was “why?” or “you know I don’t shoot that sort of thing, right?”. She felt confident that I could do it so I decided to give it a shot. I went to the Rodeos every month for about a year and would spend the day there, wandering around. My confidence in shooting increased dramatically and aside from incessantly stating “this isn’t my first rodeo” over and over again-I realized that if I felt confident shooting a bull, I felt pretty confident shooting almost anything.
I later on decided that I wanted to shoot bands and that I like the idea of being on the road, being a fly on the wall. Kind of like I was at the Rodeo. When there’s so much going on that I can just sit back and observe and take the pieces of time apart that meant something to me. Even though I’ve been focused more on music, the Rodeo will always be a key part of my journey as a Photographer and the moment I starting finally trusting myself and believing in myself.
— Diana Mantis