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Just Plain Lucky

An assignment to shoot the pageantry of a bullfight in Seville brought me to a stadium on a warm, Sunday afternoon. I had taken up position behind a low wooden barrier close to the chute leading to the ring. The matadors passed, looking serious and grim. I leaned out over the barrier and began to photograph. They looked straight ahead and paid no attention to me. After entering the ring and saluting the crowd, they took up positions behind several barriers.

The first bull was released from under the stadium. He came out of the blackness and thundered down the chute. I don’t know if the sight of me leaning out over the wooden barrier infuriated him or if he just felt particularly nasty that day. He came at me, lowered his head and jammed his left horn in the space between two of the wooden slats. He twisted his head and with no great fanfare, tore a four-foot plank off the front of the barricade. His horn just missed my groin.

The crowd saw it and started waving, laughing and screaming, “Ole! Ole! Ole!” I looked down to make sure everything was intact, then waved back. The matadors glanced over with a mixture of boredom and disdain. They were clearly annoyed that they had lost the moment and focus of attention.

I lifted my camera and got back to business. As it turned out, that day I came closer to getting gored than any of the matadors.