Why is this not litter?

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 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.

Texas Golf Professional

traderI’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.

A day in the life

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.


austin mapMaybe 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.


wilmaxconstructionThe talented team at Fosforus is putting the final touches on Wilmax Construction’s new site.  Pay a visit sometime.

Marshall Kuykendall

marshallkuykendallWhile 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.


homelessHere’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.”


hookemDon’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.


keyholeA peek through the keyhole in the door to the studios at Fosforus.  We’re working on something pretty cool.  And it has nothing to do with that shot of the tea bottle.  Kidding.  Sort of.  That project is cool, too, but the one I’m talking about is big time.  Think:  meat, guitars, vodka, wine, candles, beautiful women and a 100-foot long table.

More love for Fosforus

fosforusI’ve gushed about them before, sure, but Fosforus continues to amaze and inspire me.  Let me be clear.  I work with more than one agency, and I say what I say at the risk of losing business from the many.

This shot here is a screengrab from Fosforus’ site, today.  I shot the handsome young man there in the middle, and I shot the backdrop of the guy with ________ behind his back (we shot him with lots of different stuff back there.)

I didn’t realize it before, but this incredible group of people has entrusted me, your local pro, with imagery that takes them around the world onto the screens of those that make multi-million dollar decisions.

Quite a compliment to me.

In this, the purgatory season between giving thanks and simply giving, I give my thanks to the gang down there in the Grove Drug building on Sixth Street.

The Perfect Company?

fosforusMaybe, but at the very least, Fosforus is easily one of the most effective companies I’ve seen, in terms of what goes on there and what their clients get from them.  As a whole, they deliver fresh, smart business ideas and direction, but it’s downright astounding to witness the separate creative elements spill out.  Ask anyone there to come up with something to help your business, then push “start” on your stopwatch.

Their head writer is smart, informed, caring and genuinely interested in helping sell whatever there is to sell.  Not just tell.  I’m sure lots of companies have enough cash to simply spend a lot of money to show and tell, but I bet more and more of them will find their way to companies like Fosforus, especially in the current economic storm.

Their Creative Director (and I’m not blowing smoke here) is the Tiger Woods of the creative world.  His brilliant mind churns out more effective, creative and relative ideas in 30 seconds than I would in month.  Scratch that.  He does things I could never do.  Ever.

Their design guys stay out front in terms of what’s cool, what’s next, what’s useless and what works in different situations.  Masters of media, all of them.

I overheard a client of theirs coming out of a first meeting with them, saying, “My bullshit meter never went off.”  And that client went in with an itchy bullshit trigger finger.  I’ve watched the Fosforus engine work from many different angles, for years now, and I can safely say the same thing.

I’m a bear. Not the gay kind.

Studying the current economic landscape and how it affects me, you and other people I understand, I’ve come to realize that in business, I’m inherently bearish.  I run a bare bones photography company.  I undercharge, overdeliver and do things other photographers seem to turn their noses up at.  In the realm of “good, fast or cheap…pick any two,” I seem to mostly deliver on all three.  At my expense, of course.

I’m lucky that I can do business that way.  Most can’t.  I think my revenue growth is to blame for it.

I’m also lucky that I’ve seemed to fall upon the payroll of a few good clients who do business the same way, and we’re all in decent shape, despite the looming ___ession.  Fosforus is one, D-Crain is another, Wilmax yet another. All three are full of caring, giving, creative people who care about their clients and don’t give a shit about the trivial internal issues that drive most small businesses into the ditch.  Hopefully they see me in the same light.  Some of my previous clients don’t call anymore, and I couldn’t be more thankful.  Maybe we just didn’t fit.  No hard feelings here.

The bottom line is that my business model is one that will survive tough times.  It may not reap the benefits of the best of times, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.