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What Bull Riding Can Teach You About Real Time Visual Storytelling

Jose Vitor Leme attempts to ride Phenom Genetics/Rothe’s Bad Beagle during the championship round of the Oklahoma City Unleash the Beast PBR tour. Photo by Andy Watson
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© Andy Watson / Bull Stock Media

*This post is part of the brand new FOS Insights program. Libris is a proud launch partner of the program. 

As the official photographer for Professional Bull Riders (PBR), Andy Watson has captured every major moment in the sport’s 25-year history.

“It’s an edge of the seat sport,” says Andy. “You pay for the whole seat, but you only need the edge. It’s a very visual sport, too. You can really freeze and zoom on every little detail — the dirt flying, the expression in the bull’s face, the expression in the cowboy’s face. The photos are just powerful.”

Working directly with his wife Jacey, the duo, who also run Bull Stock Media, has mastered getting compelling photography up online in mere seconds to increase audience engagement and excitement around the sport.   

Watch the video to see how Andy and Jacey bring bull riding to life through stunning visuals and fast image delivery:  

Behind the Scenes with the Storytellers

Over the years, Andy and Jacey have built a massive archive of 1.5 million images. While Andy’s on the road shooting 40+ PBR events a year, Jacey manages the archive from their home in Bozeman, Montana. She crops and edits, tags all of the images with relevant metadata, and adds them to Libris to make them available to everyone who needs them.

© Andy Watson / Bull Stock Media

Thanks to Andy and Jacey’s workflow, people across the PBR organization can get the photos they need, whether they’re posting shots on Instagram seconds after a great ride or digging deep into the archive for a celebration of the brand’s 25th anniversary.

Here’s a look at how they get PBR images published online so quickly:

  1. Andy takes photos inside and around the PBR arena.
  2. He uses a wireless transmitter to send them straight to a laptop at the edge of the arena.
  3. Jacey is logged into that laptop remotely from where she lives in Montana.
  4. Jacey crops and edits the photos, then pushes them out to the social media team using WhatsApp, and to others members of the team using Libris.
  5. Team members then immediately distribute those photos across social media platforms and PBR’s website.  

© Bull Stock Media

“They’re being used for everything,” says Andy. “There’s social media, there’s the website, media, marketing, they’re up and down billboards, they’re in all the papers, they’re on TVs, and all the sponsors use them.”

© Andy Watson / Bull Stock Media

Today, Andy and Jacey have nearly 150 people on their Libris account who need access to PBR photos on a daily basis. On top of that, 400 people float in and out of the system when they need a particular asset.

“Of those people, we need to make sure everyone has the right image permissions,” says Jacey. “Some departments within PBR need access to the entire archive, while others don’t. Proper permission settings ensures you’re not allowing access to old images or old logos, for example. It’s important for PBR that the photos being pulled are always being used in the right context.”

© Andy Watson / Bull Stock Media

“The evidence is strong when you also look at the huge following that PBR has on their social media platforms,” says Jacey. “Fans are being driven to consume PBR news and content solely on the PBR properties online, rather than seeking it out elsewhere. We’re an integral part of providing that content for those channels.”

And as the team uses these images across platforms, they have a powerful ripple effect on this fast-paced, fast-growing sport. Andy says photography is crucial to drawing people into the arena for the first time.

“Their curiosity gets the best of them,” he says. “And once you get them here, they’re hooked.”

For more tips on how to maximize the impact of your events, listen to the full webinar featuring PBR’s photo team.

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