Amanda Dilworth’s lifelong love of cameras and photography needed another outlet, but she had little notion that rodeo would provide it.
“Rodeo kind of found me,” said Dilworth, who is likely the busiest rodeo photographer in Northern Utah and southern Idaho.
Dilworth grew up in Burley, Idaho. She liked rodeo in general, but her dad was a barber and her mom a teacher, so it wasn’t a stereotypical cowboy-type family.
“I didn’t ride a horse until I was 15,” she said.
But today, Dilworth runs a thriving rodeo photography business, crisscrossing the West to photograph events sponsored by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the Utah High School Rodeo Association and more.
In May, Dilworth, who still lives in Burley, bought a new pickup truck. She’s already put 13,000 miles on it.
One day recently, Dilworth was on her way to a rodeo convention in Fort Worth, Texas, putting hundreds of more miles on the Dodge, when she took a call from a reporter.
She was excited to talk about where she is and where she still hopes to go.
“My dad always had a nice camera, and by the time I was 11 years old I realized I wanted to do something with photography,” Dilworth said.
She picked up a photography degree at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, in 2004 and spent the next few years trying to drum up professional work.
It was 2008 when she discovered a rodeo photography opportunity.
“The demand for it in southern Idaho and Northern Utah, I just kind of jumped on it and ran with it,” she said.
Over the next several years, she shot more rodeos and did other types of photography, and by 2016 decided she could do rodeo full time.
“It’s really grown from there,” she said.
Her business, Western Edge Photography, has blazed a trail, she said, attracting customers whose family members compete in Utah and want photos of their competitions.
“I’ve actually had people whose loved one had passed away and I was one of the last people to get photos of them,” she said.
“I hear people mention Western Edge Photography and they don’t even know my name,” Dilworth said.
She has photographed the Utah high school state finals the past four years, and two years ago got her PRCA photographer card.
She said this year she was the only PRCA photographer to work at two circuit finals, the Mountain States and Wilderness circuit events.
She hopes to be able to cover the National Finals Rodeo at some point.
Early on in her career, “I never considered myself a journalism photographer, but now that’s all I do,” said Dilworth, 38.
There’s plenty of demand for her type of work in Utah and Idaho, she said.
“Utah is very rich in the rodeo and horse industry,” she said. “If you think of a Western event, barrel racing, little britches rodeos, team roping, I have done it.”
The Golden Spike Arena is one of her favorite locations to work.
As a photography environment, it’s easier there to get the lighting just right, and she likes the people too.
“Ogden is one of my favorite places to come,” she said. “I have a good friend who lets me stay with her. I absolutely love the people in Ogden. They are always friendly and supportive.”
Dilworth said she’s thrilled to look ahead, to keep having fun chronicling rodeo and growing her business.
It’s an unusual path, she said, because the PRCA photography industry is male-dominated.
“I’m someone running her own business, making things busy on my own,” she said. “I’m single, no kids. I’m a unicorn, maybe.”