A recent tear sheet from The Texas Observer, who last month published a couple of images from my bull riding school project.
I had a recent photo assignment that sent me down to Freeport, Texas, about an hour south of Houston, where I live. While the story I shot for is an important one (and will subsequently will be published this Friday), being back in Freeport brought back memories from ten years ago, when I was a staff photographer at The (Brazosport) Facts. At the time, most of what I shot was newspaper fare: car wrecks, parades, high school athlete portraits. I could sense there was a deeper narrative to the place, basically built from the ground up around World War II to help process magnesium for the war effort. From that industry sprouted dozens of chemical refineries throughout the area. This evolved side by side with the shrimping industry. While photographing the chemical refineries is something that is typically done from the side of the road (and even then, a photographer will be asked questions and have his license plate recorded by a plant security guard), the shrimp dock in Freeport is much more accessible. According to Tom Wood, of Tom's Net Shop, the canal where the shrimp boats dock used to overflow with hundreds of ships. The one shrimp processing facility, I was told, started making drastic cuts for the price it paid for shrimp, and a great deal of the shrimpers eventually started docking elsewhere. Now that there is new ownership at the processing facility, it's thought by Wood that the docks may someday revive to their former glory. I photographed Tom Wood at his net repair shop as well as a few other areas that looked compelling. I used a Hasselblad to force me to slow down and take a closer look at the area. I look forward to returning to the area soon to explore the dock and Freeport soon.
I took a trip last week through the Eagle Ford Shale drilling area of south Texas. I wanted to see the oil and gas boom in action and first hand. I met a few interesting folks along the way, including the two men I met in a Carrizo Springs, Texas barbecue joint - Wes Baucom, left, and Terry Vaughn. Both are from other towns in Texas and have been working in the oil fields for many years. [gallery link="file"]
The adventures of photographing typewriter repairmen continues with Ross Herdejurgen, 83, who has been repairing typewriters since 1947. He has been in his current shop since 1973. He poses next to a pre-1948 Royal manual typewriter. This image was shot on chrome, which I can only get processed locally. The C-41 batch should arrive next week. Stay tuned..
During a massive cleaning of my office, I rediscovered some negatives from a self-assigned shoot to photograph a Tea Party rally in the summer of 2009 (I think) at a race track in Bay Town, Texas. Wanting to try something different, I rented a Hasselblad medium format camera and made the trek out to the rally. I seem to be attracted to the overt patriotism: flags and people dressed up as figures from American history, as well as a sense of the paranoia of a dystopian, socialist future that seems to drive much of the conversation at these events. Also to note: I shot a couple of different film stocks. One is chrome and the other was an expired batch of porta left over from grad school.[gallery]
After a portfolio review in Austin last week and hearing great feedback all around, but especially from Will Chau regarding a quirky-ness in my work I hadn't really defined before, I've decided to post some recent work I made with my Hasselblad. I've also been on a cleaning jag as of late and in the process discovered a bunch of uncut, unscanned negs that I'm going to give a second look. I also have one more roll of black and white film I shot on the way home from Austin that I still need to develop.
As for the review itself, I must say that I really need to step it up and attend these gatherings more often. It's hard to get honest feedback as a freelancer. We're kind of out here on our own and the opportunity to hear reactions to our work from professionals in the visual communication industry is priceless.
On a whim, I also went out to photograph a typewriter repair man after reading about him in the local paper. There is something anachronistic about someone who still makes a living repairing old technology. The experience has sparked some ideas about what I might focus on next. We'll see!