Tuesday, April 12

Spirit of Community for the Statesman

Most of my assignments these days boil down to portraits. As a freelancer, most of my calls come after some big news event has happened and editors need the photos yesterday. Whenever I can, I broaden the scope to include documentary shooting. If the deadline is flexible and some meaningful interaction close at hand, I'm happy to put in the extra time. These are the photos that are the most revealing to me, the ones I love to make.

At a recent portrait assignment, I sat in on an interview with Gilbert Ramirez and his wife Jane. Like many east Austin residents, they're worried about rising property taxes and the loss of community as older families move out and new neighbors settle in. Gilbert told me about his neighborhood's communal tool shed and a commitment to help elderly residents with their yard work. There's community spirit in action.

With a long lead-time on publication, I went back a few days later when a group of neighbors came together to help Maddie Collins get her yard into shape for spring. The paper might still run the portrait, but I'm more fulfilled as a photographer, story-teller, and neighbor by making the extra effort.

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