No Pastime for Old Men


Bronc riding, calf roping, and steer wrestling may not be pastimes for old men, but taking pictures of the action sure as heck is. Sam Adams, a retired literary agent for motion pictures and television, has been taking/making photographs since he was nine years old and spent five years documenting the rodeo circuit at the turn of the twenty-first century.

The fleeting action of a bucking bronco tearing across the arena is only a small part of what goes on at the rodeo. Cowpies, mud, blood, flying dust, cowboys, cowgirls, cattle, and horses are all part of the behind-the-scenes preparations and ministrations of rodeo life. Adams captures life among the animals, trailers, and pickup trucks behind the arena’s board fences, focusing on family members, veterinarians, clowns, and curious bystanders. The Sam Adams Collection of photographs, including his No Pastime for Old Men series, is being cataloged and brought into the Photo Archives, preserving the “pastime” of a man who photographs everything from musical performances to street scenes and nursing homes. This photograph of a rough and tough young cowboy spending a tender moment with his infant son in the midst of the gladiator-like atmosphere of competition captures the life of a young rodeo family as only Sam Adams could.n

More photographs in Sam Adams’s No Pastime for Old Men series are online at, the website of the Photo Archives at the New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors.