Wednesday, August 26

luckenbach - pickin' for the record

made the short drive up to luckenbach to cover their attempt at breaking the guinness world record for largest guitar ensemble. the previous record was held by 1803 germans, who gathered to play 'smoke on the water' in 2007.

the unofficial count on sunday was 1859 guitarists, enough to set a new world record with the song 'luckenbach.' it was a sight and sound to behold. i haven't had a chance to sort through all the audio i recorded that day. i met some nice folks from all over the state. i hope they do it again next year.

Saturday, August 22


there's probably not many of my readers who are unfamiliar with the awesomeness of APAD. this community is the reason i am the photographer i am today.

i joined the listserv just before the first big geekfest in Austin. i helped coordinate that event and met a ton of APAD'ers for the first time that june in 2005. after an exhausting weekend of photos, laughter, inspiration, and geeking out, a friend of mine asked if i had found 'my people.' without hesitation i replied with a smile, 'yes.'

almost five years after joining APAD, i am a photojournalist in transition. with so much changing in the industry, it's a small miracle to have a steady group of friends and mentors who stay focused on telling stories, refining the craft, taking risks, and supporting each other. thanks, gang.

this year's geekfest line-up is the best yet with 2009 pulitzer winners damon winter & patrick farrell, nat geo legend sam abell, photo wise man bryan moss - writer of the awesome book PhotoSynthesis and the man behind Life in Corydon, portrait & lighting genius bob croslin, multimedia superstar dai sugano, fellow texan allison v. smith, and one of my favorite community journalists out there nicole frugé.

i almost ran out of epithets for this cast of great photographers. stop sitting on the fence and come join us in st. pete.

Thursday, August 20

VJ Workshop

weekend workshops are lessons in flexibility.

we look forward to them as a relief from daily routine, a chance to break out and breathe, and a time to soak in inspiration from amazing storytellers. when assignments are involved, you also hope serendipity befalls your camera and microphone. when luck fails, hard work and flexibility can always find a story, however small. the inaugural VJ Workshop in ventura was my reminder that i'm not always in control.

i came to ventura with a pent up wave of enthusiasm. i was ready to dig deep and push personal boundaries. there's nothing like a 24-hour deadline to spark a creative challenge. daryl peveto did an amazing job tracking down 50 stories in the ventura area - a labor of love that will bring many karmic returns. even the best laid plans, however, are open to detours.

my first story was a non-starter. the second was shaping up nicely until the family decided to leave town for the weekend. as my team leader pauline lubens said - we tell people to ignore us and go about their normal routine and then they leave us in the dust.

with my 24-hour window closing and just one real interaction with the family, i decided to embrace it. embrace the narrow slice i was given and try to tell a story, however small, about that slice. i could pounds my fists against a closed door of opportunity, or go with it. in these days of moving onward and upward, there was only one real choice.

i headed back to the gym after sebastian and his family left town. i hung out with some other boxers finishing off their training session. i loved the color of the place, but decided to produce the multimedia in black & white to avoid many hours of color correcting for the *awesome* mixed lighting and florescent flicker. the yellow walls worked better as unrelated singles.

many thanks to adam flores, benjamin, cesar and servando mendez, as well as junior garate at world crown sports for helping me out on deadline.

you can see other stories that came out of the VJ Workshop here. others overcame a lot more obstacles than i and produced some great work.

some of my favorites -

adam lau
who said, "got no audio, crap stills. but learned something in the process of failing." his piece on the mayor of the pier had some hilarious audio and used every animated video wipe in the book to great effect.

ariel zambelich
who knocked on doors to find a story of enduring love. your persistence and grace-under-fire always impress the hell outta me.

kat nyberg
spent her day with shirley meyer, a homeless woman living in her RV who drives from spot to spot trying to avoid getting fined by the ventura police.

take a gander and remember you're only 24-hours from another story.

Saturday, August 15

road trip

3971.5 miles - door to door

getting back in the swing of things after a long trip to cali for the VJ Workshop in ventura, ca. i decided to drive out to see friends and family along the way and get a little road-therapy.

it's been a slow summer in texas. i've worked on personal projects and had assignments here and there, but it's hard not to feel like i should be doing more, making more progress. putting a few thousand miles between me and that mind-set does wonders for motivation. so does QT with old friends and new ones. viva road trips.

en route to cali, i spent a night in tuscon with james gregg. besides being a total photo stud (2009 POY), james gives a great critique and is the consummate host. we stumbled on a local pool league in south tuscon that might turn into a cool little feature story. one of the first of many reminders that stories are everywhere.

the next morning out in the middle of nowhere I-10, i had my first blowout of the trip (emphasis on 'first'). as these things go, i can't complain. i anticipated a few unplanned detours of this kind. i limped to salome, az where i met sean, an iraq war veteran trying to regain a sense of normalcy out in the desert. we chatted while he put on a new tire for me. stories are everywhere.

onto california.

i hadn't been to see david in a long while. his studio space in LA was a little slice of mexico.

insert workshop madness here - four days of little sleep and deadlines, how refreshing. as soon as i rework my project i'll throw it up here. if you can't wait, you can see my group's projects including a piece by the talented ariel zambelich, who tore-up the pavement in ventura when her stories fell through and found a story of lasting love. yet another reminder, stories are everywhere.

stopped in shell beach, ca to see one of my bros, and his wife, and their first little 'un, sila. she's a character.

then up to SF for more friends and fam.

the northern most spot on the trip, twin peaks, SF.

back through west texas at dawn.

there's a lot more trippage to come in september with geekfest, a run to oregon to see more nieces, and MPW to finish off the month. should be a great butt-kick to fuel the close of 2009.