In Texas, vendors are only allowed to sell fireworks in specific locations two weeks before New Years Eve and two weeks before Independence Day. Running the stands is a way to make quick cash, though I wouldn't say it's particularly easy. I've seen people camping out in tents and trailers next to the stands with the whole family helping out. This Fourth of July I drove right outside of Austin to photograph some of the people working fireworks' stands dotting the sides of country roads and highways. There's something about the selling of fireworks that feels very American. And it's an activity that accurately represents the true diversity of our country— all people, no mater the race, age, gender, or ethnicity seem to enjoy buying fireworks, big and small, colorful and loud, to blow up with loved ones.
Holland Photo asked me to participate in their monthly Speaker Series and give a presentation about my career and work. It was a good opportunity to redo my website (welcome to my new website!) and have an open conversation with attendees about what it's like to freelance full time as a photographer and videographer. I had a great time presenting and was grateful for all the insightful questions people had, which always makes talking in front of a crowd of people easier :)
A nice start to the year! The Austin American-Statesman featured my East Austin churches project in their paper. I had been in contact with the reporter Michael Barnes for almost a year in regards to publishing this piece, so it was nice to finally see our efforts come to fruition.
As I wrote my list of goals for 2018, one of them was to either complete or continue this project. The Statesman's recognition of the photos reinforced the feeling that I'm not quite yet done.
Below are some snaps of the actual paper. Here's a digital version too: https://atxne.ws/2KMaxKS
My photo of the taxidermist Rachel Ahern was spotlighted in the August 2017 issue of the Texas Observer. The magazine's Eyes on Texas column features Texas-based documentary photography, and I was pumped to show some love for my project on Texas taxidermists, one of my favorite assignments to date.
Check out the virtual edition here: www.texasobserver.org/eye-on-texas-fantastical-taxidermy
“I think people who are involved in taxidermy look at animals in a different way,” Ahern says. “As much as I love them and love them alive. …At the same time I can look at a dead animal and still love it just as much in a different way. As morbid as it sounds.”
A ritual of mine is taking my Yashica twin lens camera with me whenever I go on trips and finding ways to fit large landscapes and small town buildings in squares. Shots below are from a recent trip out to Big Bend National Park.
Since I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, I have always been a huge proponent of public transportation. I even lived in Austin for 8 1/2 years before getting a driver's license! I recently teamed up with Cap Metro as a photographer to collaborate on their Austin Collective project, which highlights the stories of public transit riders through portraits and interviews. I was really excited to be able to work on a project that combined so many of my interests. A few photos and quotes are below. The Austin Collective will be exhibiting photos from the project during East Austin Studio Tour at 507 Calles Street, and I will be participating in a panel discussion about the project in the same location on November 12, from 4-5 PM.
“I don’t think about stopping, but I know there’s going to be a time. It’s probably going to be due to injury. I expect to get hurt in a way where I really can’t recover well enough to play again. I’m going to hate it. I just like the competition and the game itself. So I’ll be very unhappy. But I’ve got the gym. I can continue going to the gym and getting exercise that way. But it’ll be a sad day.” - Abe
“I have children. They’re my world and everything I do is for them. I’ve had employment to where I had to catch the bus two hours to work, two hours home. It wasn’t a good paying job, but I had to do it. My children are my biggest job. Just to better myself in any area.” - Jason
“I’m sort of a pessimistic optimist. Things are going to get bad in the next twenty or thirty years, but at some point we’re going to be able to turn it around. Once we have more solar panels, we change our lifestyles, and we use less resources. I think we can do it.” - Pedro
“I was at an emoji-themed birthday party and they wanted the poop emoji all over their face. The whole face as a poop emoji. They made that decision and I was like, ‘alright, we can do that. I mean, your parents might be upset with me later on, but it was you that picked this.’ They loved it. I gave them glitter and everything. They were happy.” - Ruth
“I specifically want to work in gene therapy. You see a gene and it’s messed up, and because it’s messed up it’s causing some kind of neurological or biological problem. If you can go in and fix the gene somehow, then the problem is solved. I think if we could do that for Alzheimer’s or Huntington’s or other degenerative diseases then that would be the best thing.” - Victoria
“I started taking the bus and trying to ride my bike and do all that after five years of commuting to Texas State. I was just driving so much and I could tell it was negatively affecting my life. Being stressed out on the road, not having time to do things I needed to for school or for work. Just spending lots of times on the road and feeling frustrated because I was just driving so much.” - Sarah Beth
When I heard Donald Trump was coming to Austin, I knew I had to go. I was curious to meet people who like the presidential nominee and ask them one question— why do you support him? Photos and responses below.
"I have grandchildren. A good country must have a military man. It must have a commander in chief." - Marcos
"I don't believe in politicians. Politics has never changed my life in any significant way. But Trump said what do African Americans have to lose by voting for him. And he's absolutely right."
"Trump has a lot of the same values as me. And my husband is a small business owner and I think he could help him." Annette, Ashleigh (quote from her) and Rebecca
"Trump isn't a politician so he's not going to put up with any of their shit." Tim
"Trump is the best candidate that has ever run." Ariel
"I'm a Republican." Art
"Trump is a complete departure from everything going on. I want a totally new effort." Beth
Slack Capital is a compilation put out by Austin Townhall Records that features twenty local bands. It was really fun collaborating on the CD art design and using my photos in this way. All proceeds from Slack Capital will be donated to Anthropos Arts, a local non-profit organization which provides music lessons and musical instrument to at-risk youth. You can buy the album here and get involved with the nonprofit at anthroposarts.org. A great project to work on and the album is worth a listen!
This spring, I was awarded an Arch and Anne Giles Kimbrough grant from the Dallas Museum of Art for my East Austin church series. What a wonderful surprise! I'm excited to continue and finish this project the help of the museum. It's been a really important part of my growth as a photographer over the past several years, and the award is a much-welcomed motivation to keep at it.
I'm showing some new work during the East Austin Studio Tour this weekend, alongside some wonderful Austin artists. We're located at Satellite Studios, 1109 Shady Lane.
Though I've lived in Texas for almost a decade, I still feel like an outsider looking in, and the images I'm exhibiting are a slice of that continuous exploration of what looks and feels unfamiliar.