Back When They Bucked with Ferrell “Flashbulb” Butler

by Lily Landreth

Ferrell “Flashbulb” Butler hadn’t a penny left to pay his entry fees. So the calf roper took out his camera and started shooting rodeos, selling the photos for a dollar and a half apiece in the 1960s. Each click of the lens drew him closer to the acclaim he receives today for the moments of rodeo history captured with his German Rolleiflex T camera.
Butler, born in 1936 in Davidson, Okla., was the only child of his parents, UJ and Hazel Butler. His family later moved to Mesquite, Texas, and young Butler began competing in rodeo when he was 15. “I wanted to rope calves like all the other kids in the ’50s. I wanted to ride bulls, too, but that didn’t last long.” Butler went on to compete on the Arlington State College rodeo team. He was a charter member of several rodeo associations, but much of the time he competed in his hometown in Mesquite. It was there that 24-year-old Butler began his photography, learning the trade as he went. “I started taking pictures for money and the picture taking got plumb out of hand!” In 1960 at the NFR in Dallas, Texas, Butler met rodeo photographer DeVere Helfrich, future friend and mentor. Helfrich pioneered the technique of classic saddle bronc pictures capturing the rein picked up and the horse stretched out, jumping and kicking.

Full story available in the July 15th edition.

 

© Rodeo Life Media Corporation | All Rights Reserved • Laramie, Wyoming • 307.761.9053

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