Photographer vs. wild cow

July 13, 2012

By Joseba Etxaburu

I’m a fireman and photo stringer for Reuters. I have been coming to the San Fermin festival for the past 12 years.

Every year I try to find new images and new ways to tell the stories we see. One of the events I usually cover is the release of wild cows into the bullring following the running of the bulls. A young cow chases revelers around knocking them down and occasionally tossing them.


Looking for a different angle, for a while I have been going into the ring with a wide angle lens – getting as close to the action as possible while keeping an eye on the cow, which is very fast and often pretty bad tempered. On Thursday, I hadn’t really planned to go into the ring but Reuters photographer Susana Vera said she wanted to shoot the action with a long lens. I thought it wasn’t worth both of us doing the same type of pictures. So I went in.

Looking back on it, I think the cow had spotted me from the start and didn’t like the look of what she saw. She had a crooked horn and maybe she was self-conscious about being photographed. She kept her eye on me and started advancing. I tried to back away using a circular motion. It’s never a good idea to run to or from bulls or cows in a straight line. They are faster than you and will catch you. It’s better to move in a curve. They have less ability to turn than we do and there’s a chance you can out-turn her. On this day though that didn’t happen. She came at me and while I was trying to dodge, I slipped.

I grabbed onto her horn to stop her tossing me. It worked but she stepped on my elbow, which is the biggest scratch I got that day. With my other hand I held onto my camera. Those things aren’t cheap.

I guess I was lucky not to have come away with anything more than some cuts and bruises. It hasn’t really put me off. I’ll still be looking for that different angle.


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

some really great action photos

Posted by macro-photo | Report as abusive

sí que has tenido suerte!, eso sí, sin soltar la cámara…, que desde luego no es plan de quedarse sin ella… enhorabuena por las fotos

Posted by cjCarlos | Report as abusive

Great photographer! I love all your pictures. I was worried about the attack that you got from her. Luckily, you went away fine.
Thanks for all the pictures. Keep up with good job!

Posted by kontum | Report as abusive

You ain’t going to get milk from this one, mate

Posted by renyar | Report as abusive