A Midwestern Holiday

Photography: Road trip photos of Missouri

I married into a family that has many more traditions than my family. We go to my wife's hometown of St. Louis at least three times a year, and every time I go, I add to an ongoing photo essay of St. Louis and the region. St. Louis is different in a way that is hard for an outsider like myself to describe, so I do it with images.

As some of my other personal work is about the environment and our impact on it, some of the pictures I make relate to this theme. However, I also make pictures of my in-laws and their home. It's a quiet house on a quiet street, with a quiet dignity to the area that is different than the suburbs of San Antonio I grew up in, hewed out of South Texas caliche and live oak scrub.

As we become more alike in the Age of Information, I still try to celebrate the regional differences in America that give each place it's own particular flavor.

From the archives: Bull Riding School Student Portraits

I recently took time to reorganize some of my negative archives when I came across some portraits I took at a bull riding school in 2014. I remember my goal was to make a portrait of the students immediately following their first-ever ride on a bull. The students, to my surprise and initial disappointment, looked nonplussed. I wanted to see a modicum of vulnerability in their faces, but instead only saw pictures of teenagers in cowboy clothing. I scrapped the idea and moved on.

A second look this month, at least three years later, revealed there is an underlying tension in the images, for me at least. Whom of us as adolescents couldn't wait to grow up to be the archetype we most admired? In some of these images, I see some who easily slide into the role, and others have a long trail ahead of them.

In case you're interested, the images were shot with a Hasselblad 553ex and Tri-X film. Let me know what you think!



Throwback Thursday: Arcade Fire, Spike Jonze and the filming of "Scenes From The Suburbs"

In the spirit of Throwback Thursday, I've assembled an edit of some of my favorite photos from the production of the Arcade Fire/Spike Jonze short film "Scenes From the Suburbs," shot in the summer of 2010 in Austin, Texas. Currently Arcade Fire is touring full force for their latest release "Reflektor," a killer double album and true Gesamtkunstwerk. I've been lucky enough to photograph for Arcade Fire a number of times since then and am looking forward to seeing them play in Win and Will Butler's hometown of Houston next week.

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

Day Four

Day Five

New work from my Karen refugee project

I spent a few hours today working on my project on Karen refugees. I couldn't have done it without the help of a member of the Karen community who took time out of his day to introduce me to families and translate for me for the time I was there. I'm not sure how cool he is about putting his name on my blog, so for now, he'll be anonymous. I will say he's been in the United States for almost three years and besides English, knows Burmese, Karen, and some Thai. He's a pretty impressive guy. That being said, I think I made some progress as far as getting a little deeper into the community. So far everyone has been great.





Karen refugees project begins

I started on a project today on the Karen refugee community where I hope to tell the story of their daily lives here in Houston. The Karen, to my knowledge, have been emigrating to the United States in large numbers since 2008 and are repressed by the government regime in Burma/Myanmar with genocide frequently used to describe their situation. The Karen, however, are a strong, resilient people who have been in active conflict with the Burmese military government since the end of World War II. I hope to find a number of stories in this community over the following weeks and months. It's so interesting to me what stories we can find in our own backyards.  

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"Scenes from the Suburbs" - Day 1

In April, 2010, I had the opportunity to shoot the behind the scenes still images for the Arcade Fire/Spike Jonze production of the short film "Scenes from the Suburbs." The movie, screen-written by Arcade Fire, illustrates themes explored in their Grammy-winning album of the year, "The Suburbs."  

For five days, I shot a mix of Illford HP5 and Kodak Tri-X film using two Nikon F5 cameras to shoot the images that eventually were included in a booklet released with the DVD of the movie. The grain you see in the film is a result of "pushing" the film three stops in some cases. It effectively raises the ISO (sensitivity) of the film. The trade off is increased grain in the film. For this assignment, it seems to work well.


To view images from the first day of shooting, check out the link to my website here.