Thursday, February 28, 2008

I Pledge Allegiance to the Mustache

I drove out with Saul and Jackie to Wimberly last night to shoot a beard and mustache competition. It was less a competition than it was a friendly gathering of a bunch of goofballs who were all drinking beers and singing Bob Wills songs. There were three legitimate, unique mustaches and beards among the assembled facial-hair-warriors. Lighting was... well, it was a bar, and the Texan's flash hadn't been charged before I checked it out, so you can use your imagination.

Dueling Emcees
Judging the Kids Division

Monday, February 25, 2008

Barack Obama Greets Texas

Sen. Obama looking rather like the Cheshire Cat...

Why is it that standing is more exhausting than actually exerting yourself? Standing is just brutal. Weird how that works, huh?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Huston-Tillotson University Heritage Festival

Busy day... I began the morning by going out apartment finding, and by sheer luck the first place we looked at was nigh utopian. Simply perfect. It's in an upscale, trendy, yuppie neighborhood with lovely old buildings that have been extremely well preserved and/or renovated. Then I went to East Austin for an assignment. East Austin has undergone a lot of what's known in the city planning field as "gentrification," meaning the city or investment firms buy up failing properties, clear out the "riff-raff" and start setting up franchises, lofts, and Starbucks as far as the eye can see. I don't pretend to know the full depth of the situation at hand, but I know what I see: the yuppie Austin is meeting the old Austin and devouring more land every year. Black businesses and households are vacating one by one, and going where? I don't know. Probably to Riverside, where the crime is rising all the time. Not a nice place to live. What's a city to do?

Worlds of difference, only a few miles apart.
Basketball Team
In and Out
Conked out

Make-out Circle

I'll let this one speak for itself... I love Austin.

Make-out Circle
Make-out Circle
Make-out Circle
Make-out Circle

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Yes We Can

Felt strange this weekend... probably an aftereffect of my recent slight illness. It could also be this recent bout of rainstorms. Melancholy, but really directed at anything. Honestly, I probably just need sleep.

Well, it's nice to be on a newspaper staff during an election year, and this story is just one instance of that. I got to shoot the opening of Obama's campaign headquarters in Austin. Like the Scientology assignment, it's interesting to go into something with pre-formed biases. I can't lie and say I'm totally impartial. I have distinct opinions and ideologies, there's no denying that. I don't feel like it affects my picture-taking, however. When I shoot, I zone out, I stop being myself and instead act like a disembodied presence, just looking for potential images. Nice arrangements of people and architecture, good light, emotion, action. I believe I'm able to simply document, without letting personal feelings interfere.

So, objectively, there was a lot of energy in the air at this center. Lots of eager, hopeful people, from all walks of life. There was simply no sadness visible to the eye, only weariness.

Personally, I found the whole place very encouraging. If the vigor and positivity shown by his supporters is any indicator of Barack's chances, I'd say they're very good. Of course, Austin doesn't generalize well when put side by side with the rest of Texas, but regardless, I'm hopeful.

Asian News Anchor

New Media

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Austin Scientology Protest

The full story, along with a video I produced...

Austin Scientology Protest

Austin Scientology Protest

Friday, February 8, 2008

Interview with the Mayor

Being a journalist is interesting... you're able to gain access to just about anything. Reading about the current events of our country is one thing, actually seeing the wheels of power turning is simply fascinating. Mostly, it's astounding how mundane it is. The people in charge are just people, and often nice, like in the case of Austin's mayor, Will Wynn. Though one gets a slightly yuppie real-estate developer vibe from him (which is understandable, given that was his occupation before entering civil service) that doesn't exactly jive with the idealized image of Austin as a hippie haven, Wynn appears to be intelligent, genial, pretty down to earth, and focused on Austin's development.

I took a liking to him the moment I saw a colorful pile of child's toys in one of the corners of his office. I suppose it evoked a feeling of humanity, which is not something one normally associates with government.

Interview with the Mayor

Interview with the Mayor

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

You're so Vain

6th Street is sort of a bizarre phenomenon to me. People act like idiots, but because the collective group is idiotic, it's accepted. Hell, it's cool to be dumb here. There are some upsides and downsides to this practice, as I see it. Alcohol is such a social lubricant, the streets were practically slippery. Total strangers meet, laugh, joke, and pal around like high school buddies. Of course, there's also the fighting, date-rape, and riot police standing ready. In any case, I want to explore this theme more.

Spectator Sport

60,000 people at this school, and there were more players on the courts than in the stands... bizarre. I know this picture would never run, but it captures the feel of the event much better than any other picture. In essence, it's the purity of sport, of competition. These men are working their very hardest to be the best, and no one is watching. I wonder how a UT football game would go if there was no one in the stands...

Also, note to self: always shoot singles. Doubles are boring, but singles somehow are awesome.