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Photo-of-the-Day / 2012-04-03 / Portrait of a Bullwhip Artist

April 3, 2012

This is one of my all-time favorite portraits of a very talented and well respected bullwhip artist, who just happens to be my brother.  I shot this photo while he was performing and instructing at a special event held each November at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, California.  Situated high above the Pacific Ocean, the setting sun provided the perfect background for this silhouette.  The only post processing applied is a little bit of cropping. 

The dictionary defines a bullwhip “as a single-tailed whip, usually made of braided leather, which was originally used as a tool for working with livestock” and although the traditional craft of whip making and skillful art of  whip  cracking goes back centuries, by the mid 20th Century these were dying skills. 

Then along came the release of the 1981 motion picture, Raiders of the Lost Ark, featuring a whip cracking, fedora wearing archeologist, adventurer and hero named Indiana Jones.  This action packed movie showcased the use of a bullwhip as both a tool and a weapon.  Movie fans of all ages suddenly became bull whip enthusiasts, wanting to crack a whip and make it “POP”, just like “Indy”. 

The subsequent franchise sequels and other mainstream movies featuring whip cracking skills fueled the interest and the over the years fans slowly elevated a hobby into skilled performance art as well as a competitive sport.

However, whip making and whip cracking is not for the faint of heart.  It has taken my brother years of practice to develop the expert skills required to complete complex, multiple cracking routines and precise target cutting techniques for both entertainment and competition.  He now teaches his craft through workshops and seminars held throughout the U.S.

Here’s another favorite photo from the same event. 

  1. Georgia Rasmussen permalink

    Awsome picture, Linda. Also liked the background information on bullwhip making
    And skills.

  2. Vickie Lyke permalink

    Fantastic pictures. Linda, I had no idea your brother was a bullwhip artist. Good write up. I am really enjoying your pictures, and not only amazed at your photography talent, but at your writing ability also.

  3. Hi Georgia and Vickie – thanks! I am really having a lot of fun showcasing my photos and telling the stories behind them and I’m so glad you are taking the time to not only look at the pictures but read what I’m writing. It means a lot to me.

  4. Nancy Ridley permalink

    I agree with what they said :o) /ner

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