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Meet the National Western Stock Show photographer who is legally blind

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Posted at 4:45 PM, Jan 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-22 21:21:25-05

DENVER — The National Western Stock Show wrapped up its two weeks of shows and rodeos in Denver on Sunday, and one volunteer was there to document the best of it. He wears a cowboy hat like most others, in addition to a leather eye patch.

“I’m a venue photographer,” Hans Watson said.

Watson has been giving his time to the Stock Show for the last 12 years. He’s part of a team of photographers and part of a larger group of volunteers that help showcase the people, the animals, and the experiences of the many events.

“Really just showing how fun the Stock Show actually is,” he explained.

Showing it through his camera lens, and through one of his eyes.

“I’m legally blind,” he said.

Hans had a stroke in 2015. He lost most of his eyesight.

“And as my vision came back, one of the things that they suggested I do was take up photography to try and train my vision again,” he said.

And so he did, starting to photograph rodeos in Texas. When he moved to Denver, he began volunteering at the National Western.

“I’ve got decent vision in the one eye, so the real big difference is, especially rodeos, not be able to see out of this area,” he said, describing his lack of peripheral vision. “I have no way to know if I'm about to be hit by a horse or a bull or something like that.”

So he stays outside the protective fences, turning in impressive action shots of rodeos, along with excited reactions from crowds, or award-winning livestock.

“It’s always an honor when the Stock Show uses some of my images. This year I've got one on the souvenir cup. I've got a billboard,” he said.

Watson adds that he plans on being back for the 2025 Stock Show, marking his 13th year.

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