A sign of the times. Taken last year. Parking for a month? A week?
Naw, that was the rate for the day.... welcome to New Austin.
In about three days the onslaught will begin. Hordes of pale skinned people with tight legged pants will descend upon the city, finding and taking every parking space within a sixty mile radius. All 200,000 temporary visitors will walk around downtown and all will have smartphones pressed against an ear or held just in front of them as they stroll, oblivious to traffic lights, "walk" signs, other pedestrians and multi-ton chariots of steel barreling down upon them.
I will be on a busy street corner hawking elevator passes, helicopter transport coupons, maps to the downtown houses of famous rock musicians and, of course, translation "cheat sheets" for those who do not speak Texan.
Restaurants will languish as most of the attendees live on endless coffee until mid-afternoon, replaced by beer and more beer around prevning (pre-evening). Rounded out by donuts and breakfast tacos. And swag food at the parties for the platinum pass holders.
I very much recommend photographers in the area head downtown to document this gathering. It's the documentary equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel. Just walk out into the middle of Sixth St., spin around in a circle and keep the shutter button pressed down. The difference between a good SXSW photographer and all the rest? The quality of the captions.
I actually do think it's all fun. I just feel sorry for people such as my wife whose advertising agency is located in one of the downtown high-rises. For about ten days in a row getting downtown and into one's parking garage is akin to one of the labors of Hercules. Messy work.
One real benefit of the gathering is that it provides much work for many of my friends in the video field. There's always a new batch of up-and-coming start-up companies hungry to have their events shot on video. Let's give those Sonys and Canons a workout.
And they all come with nice little labels on lanyards.
I am fortunate to have worked with a regional theater for so many years. My show images cover the walls at the rehearsal studios and in the main offices. It's rare for a week to go by without getting a call from an actor, inquiring about headshots.
When I am wrapped up in projects I tend to refer the actors to people who specialize in actor's headshots. When my schedule is clear I welcome their business. But when I want to just enjoy the process of making portraits I seek out the actors who've made it clear that they want one of my portraits, and who have a look or sensibility that I want to capture.
I ask them to exchange their time in front of my camera for portraits. We talk about the parameters of the sessions and how much time we'll spend getting images we like. I try to cover all the nuts and bolts of how I work and why so we are all on the same page and ready to work toward a common goal. A beautiful portrait.
The image above is an outtake, a shot between shots that made me smile. I love the energy and the happiness it conveys. I also like the more serious one I've included below.
The opportunity to experiment with light and lenses, and poses and expressions, is a vital element in honing our craft to do our best in commissioned engagements with other clients. Practice makes better photographs.