So on the way back from lunch at Casino el Camino yesterday, I saw this on the dirtiest, stinkiest, most disgusting sidewalk in North America (6th Street, Austin, Texas) and see this. If it were a Pepsi top, I think the same old thought would come to mind: “People are thoughtless pigs, littering on my street.” Maybe even if it were a Budweiser top. Maybe. Definitely if it were ANY light beer. But Coke has brand power with me like no other. I wonder why. Because I’ve never, in 44 years, had a bad experience with it? Or maybe I have, and it still didn’t prevent me from buying it again.
So in case you’re wondering why I’ve been so silent over the past few months, above is a big part of the reason. Infor sent me on a 10-city photo tour shooting their actual customers, and we’re on city seven. Great job, great people to work with and if this doesn’t wear out my shutter, nothing will. Tens of thousands of images into this thing, I still can’t call it work. Thanks to everyone who has provided support and assistance through this bigtime shoot. Onward.
So I finally got an iPhone, and as much as I like it, I’m astonished by the quality of the photos it takes. I say “it,” because there are no settings. It’s all automatic. This is the first photo I took with it, today, on 6th Street. The only Photoshop work done here was to cut the file size in half. Incredible. Those people there at Apple may just have a future in computers and stuff.
I never even knew this was a contest, but evidently, at The Shady Grove down there on Barton Springs Road, you can sit in (and tweet from) the first ever “Tweet Seat Champion Chair.” Evidently, Twitter‘s GPS functionality can identify from exactly where the most tweets have been sent, and to think our own little Shady Grove is such a hotspot for the twitterazzi, having broadcast over 71 million tweets in 2009 alone. Congratulations, Shady Grove, and thanks to Twitter’s media people for the use of this shot.
I’m not sure if he was ever in the PGA of America, but the late Larry Trader managed Willie’s golf course for years, doing all the stuff that golf pros do. I ran across this shot of him I got back in 2004, a few years before he died, and it remains my favorite portrait. Probably because I knew Larry, and we’d spent a couple of hours together on this day talking about Willie and Evel Knievel and Ray Benson and Ear Campbell and Coach Royal and all the things that happened out there at Pedernales and on the road. And because I know that he bummed that very cigarette there off my friend Mopar, who today will give a few golf lessons at Ascarate Park in El Paso. I never asked Larry what happened to that finger.
I started this blog on the suggestion and encouragement of the talented team at Fosforus. In terms of ROI, it has been a homerun. Off the charts. The only investment has been time posting entries, and I’ve had actual cash return. So big thanks to WordPress and to Fosforus. That said, I think I’ll join the rest of you bloggers out there who use these things to tell people about your day (no, I’m not making fun of you…I repeat, I join you). Today started out with trip to the dump. 1-800-Got-Junk is not effectively marketing themselves if they’re not using an image like this with a caption that reads something like, “You’ll Never Get The Smell Out of Your Nostril Hairs.” You think Hell has fire and stuff? Mine has six inches of foul-smelling slippery grey mud.
Then, I drove back downtown. Probably shouldn’t be snapping photos on a 70-foot flyover at 55mph.
I saw a bad wreck at the intersection of MLK and the I-35 access road. I hope everyone was okay, and by the look of that Prius, I bet they are. Astounding structural resilience.
I drove past the Capitol and thought about all the people I know who’ve worked there.
Then I saw this in a parking lot in Sunset Valley.
Then I drove back downtown and noticed how far along the W Hotel is coming.
When I got up to Congress, I saw a small herd of those Segue tour people.
And one of them wiped out. I couldn’t help laughing. Sorry.
Then I went south on Congress to shoot some of those traliers that sell food, but got there to find that they’re not open on Mondays. Shit.
So I went home.
Oh, and today is my birthday.
Maybe that’s what I should call my business. Maybe not. Anyhoo, the good folks over at UT Golf Club have asked for my assistance in producing some materials to help them secure the deal to host the 2012 NCAA Division 1 Men’s Golf Championships. I’m honored to be a part of the effort. I drew this map tonight with some of the crumbs I’ve picked up down at Fosforus.
There was a line in the film American Beauty where that videographer guy said something like, “There’s just so much beauty in the world, sometimes I think I can’t take it.” I remember instantly identifying with that. Maybe all photographers are like that. They probably have to be. Imagine flipping it around, and all you see through the lens is horror and negativity and pain and sadness. Sure would make for a tough job in the visual arts.
At this point in my life, I cannot donate money to charity. I simply don’t have enough. And with two small children and a full-time job, I can’t be a volunteer. But Chris Maher at Fosforus introduced me to Meals on Wheels and More a couple of years ago, and I’ve been their photographer, free of charge, ever since. Anytime they need me, they can have me, for whatever they want. It’s not much of an offering from me, but I am doing something that directly afftects their bottom line. If they paid a photographer even $10/year, that’d be a couple of meals someone wouldn’t get.
The funny part is that all the people there at MOWAM are very grateful for my pro bono work, but it’s me who wins here. The satisfaction I get from doing this for them is beyond overwhelming. But when I was looking over the latest round of shots, I thought about the kindness of the people there. The staff and the volunteers. These people are helping people who need help, right now. Their compassion is real. They can’t hide it. I can see their soul right there on their faces.
Dan Pruett (at top left) recently gave me a tour of their new facility they’re building, and it’s incredible. Incredible that they need that much room. But they do. Sarah Andrews (there at the top right of the grid) said that they’ll be delivering their 1,000,000th meal this September, and as she articulated, “it’s amazing, yes, but it’s amazing there’s that much need.”
One point I should make here is directed at the people you see there in that grid. Almost all of them walked into my little portable studio I set up in the foyer and said something about how awful they looked or asked me about airbrushing. For what it’s worth, I didn’t retouch these shots in any way. Photoshop doesn’t have a tool to remove compassion. You are all the most beautiful people I’ve ever photographed.
While working on a project down at Fosforus, I met a very nice man and lifelong Austinite. Marshall Kuykendall (pronounced “kirk’ in dawl”), who grew up on the land now known as The XV Ranch, was kind enough to invite me to his home in southwestern Travis County and allowed me more than a few minutes to photograph him. Turns out I knew his late wife Karen, through her work as an actress at Zachary Scott Theater. I also know his niece, Laura, who was my son’s preschool teacher a couple of years ago. Mr. Kuykendall is a highly respected and accomplished land broker and has a ton of great stories about growing up on his family’s ranch.
Here’s a closer look at that memorial you see on the Hike-and-Bike Trail along Town Lake near the 1st St. bridge. I get the point, but I’m not sure it’s written so well. I remember something from college (believe it or not) that 95% of communication resides with the audience. But it’s that other 5% that’s important to me, as a writer, photographer, designer and whatever else is asked of me down at Fosforus. Getting the point across isn’t enough. Fosforus has a tagline: The Idea is to Sell Something. That’s a completely different practice from the widespread perception of advertising being “The Idea is to Tell Something.”
Don’t be surprised if these start popping up in College Station around Thanksgiving week this fall. Fosforus‘ engineers are in the final steps of breaking the code of crosswalks all over Texas.