CHARREADA: A Peek Into the Mexican Origins of the American Rodeo

Andy Goodwin’s Charreada series offers a glimpse into the Mexican sport that perhaps not so many know paved the way for American rodeo.

Rodeo and cowboy culture has long been the subject of many photographic projects, among the most interesting of which feature a side that challenges the modern cowboy image. Some may already be familiar with Northern Mexico and its vaquero as the provenance of the iconic American cowboy. But for those who don’t know yet, Andy Goodwin’s Charreada series will serve as a compelling primer, providing a glimpse into the Mexican sport that became the predecessor to the American rodeo.

According to the description by the Ohio-based photographer on Behance, while it began as a curious look into a sport he was unfamiliar with, the experience of photographing the Charreada became a fascinating journey into the realm of the charro and charra (the Mexican cowboy and cowgirl). He described it as a proud culture of Mexican Americans who get dressed for the sport during the weekends and compete in their own version of the rodeo.

Goodwin’s Charreada photos introduce us to the tough yet elegantly dressed charros and charras, and even some of the young ones who would follow their footsteps. We also see some scenes in and out of the action, which give us a more detailed look into the similarities and differences of the charreada with its American counterpart.

This selection shared on Behance is a pleasant cinematic version of the sepia-toned series that Goodwin has posted on his website, as it comes in the color grading by digital artist Jeff Whitlock. This allows us to view this beautiful series two ways: through Goodwin’s documentary eye, and through Whitlock’s cinematic mood.

If you enjoyed this series, we also recommend checking out Rory Doyle’s award-winning series on the African American cowboys of the rural Mississippi Delta.

Don’t forget to visit Andy Goodwin’s website and Behance portfolio to see more of his photography projects.


All photos by Andy Goodwin. Used with Creative Commons permission.