Photographer vs. wild cow
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.