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PRCA photographer Jackie Jensen searching for the perfect shot - KRTV News in Great Falls, Montana

PRCA photographer Jackie Jensen searching for the perfect shot

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GREAT FALLS -

You can learn a lot by watching Jackie Jensen at a rodeo.

For example, did you know the best place to photograph rough stock events is from a vantage point six inches off the ground?

“It gives you an honest impression of how high these horses are actually bucking,” explains Jensen from her perch under the arena stands. “If you’re shooting down at something or from the fence it doesn’t give you a glance of how athletic these animals are.”

Jensen is a PRCA rodeo photographer based in Lewistown, who travels all over the country shooting events – mostly those on the Montana Circuit.

She puts in just as many miles as your favorite NFR cowboy or cowgirl. This week she’s shooting every event, both slack and performances at the Montana Pro Rodeo Roundup in Great Falls.

“I’ve logged twenty-five thousand miles this summer, thirty-five hundred just over the Fourth of July,”

And while most rodeo athletes perform for a few seconds, Jackie puts in hours of work in search of the perfect shot.

“it’s about a twenty hour day actually,” Jensen said. “I’m up at 5am getting things uploaded and in bed around midnight at 1am after slacks and perfs and taking care of stuff.”

For the casual rodeo fan, Jackie is just a face in the crowd. And that’s just the way she likes it.

"It's my job to be invisible,” Jensen claimed. “I'm there to see everything and document and to never be in anybody way but never miss anything either."

Jackie grew up in Winnett – clearing steers and calves as a kid. Eventually she competed in high school and college rodeo before graduating from MSU with an art degree.

She spent six years teaching art in rural schools around Montana, photographing on the side – but wound up making her part-time hobby a full time job.

And she’s never looked back.

“My true gift is to teach, but I tend to be more effective behind the camera,” said Jensen. “I can help more people telling their stories that way than I could sitting in a single location.”

She laughs.

“I don’t sit still well.”

Jensen’s work has been featured in publications across the globe, but she says the most rewarding part of her job is clearing up misconceptions and educating people about rodeo.

“People know more about the surface of Mars than what we do and why we do it,” Jensen said. “I can’t imagine doing anything else. It is truly an addiction. Sitting still doesn’t suit me anymore.”

And that’s a good thing. She’ll make her annual trip to the NFR in Vegas in a few months, so she’s booked until December.

You can view Jackie’s work on her website JackieJensenPhotography.com or on her Facebook page. Or just say hi to her at a rodeo near you!

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