Austin Texas photography blog by Ben Sklar

Archive for May 2010

Oil Rig Explosion Survivor, Chris Choy

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Saturday National Public Radio.org sent me to Houston to photograph Chris Choy with his wife Monica and their attorney Steve Gordon. NPR partnered with PBS Newhour to do an exclusive radio-tv interview with reporter Joe Shapiro. The PBS Newshour video shows Chris and Monica telling their tragic and gripping story.


A few different portraits have accompanied the first and second NPR stories, but I had a few hours to make photos and listen to Choy’s story. I felt like it was important for me to put my camera down at times and just listen to what he had to say and try to relate to him as a human, not just a subject to point my camera at. I feel that when a reporter or photographer takes a genuine interest in the people he/she surrounds himself with rather than just doing their job, the work they create with that person will transcend the person’s experience. Sacrificing one’s own personal interests isn’t routine for any body, but I think it proves instrumental in good journalism when trying to tell a story that is difficult to understand and out of a normal person’s comprehension.

I hope this commitment to people’s stories gives viewers a better understanding of what is taking place around them.

Photographs of the Choys in the archive and a few of my favorite images from the hours I with the Choys:

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May 10, 2010 at 7:22 pm

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Clip time

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Just got back from a photography shoot I did yesterday in Houston for National Public Radio. One of the survivors from the Gulf oil rig explosion gave an interview to NPR reporter Joe Shapiro and in cooperation with Newshour and their attorneys. More on this story tomorrow…

In the mean time… style:

Last month I met Ashley Chiles and made some photographs of her for the Statesman’s Glossy style magazine. Chiles co-founded the Texas Huntress, a tv mini series about 3 women who globetrot, shoot to kill and then have the kill prepared for them by a well known chef.


We had time to do a few different sets with mixed lighting opportunities at Laguna Gloria in Austin. Marques Harper did an outstanding job assisting with the styling and working with Chiles to make the shoe fit. Thanks Marques!


It’s ironic how the image we shot on the fly for fun in ambient light go the cover, but perfect for just that reason.


Brad Bourland lives in Lakeway and has compiled a list of nearly 10,000 english language films and ranked them based on public opinion and polling. The Times did a story on him and I shot some photos in front of his sisters home.


Ed Marcotte is starving cells to find links to genes that respond to drugs to cure cancer… capiche? He’s really smart and works at the University of Texas with other bio researchers and a lot of graduate students. The Times ran a last minute story on him and the project. They have a secret lab full of frogs that they draw embryos from for their research. Good luck with you’re research!

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May 9, 2010 at 10:28 pm

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The weekend

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On Saturday Maria and I went to an art opening at Thunderbird coffee on Manor rd. featuring my logo designer and friend Maseman. We bought a few pieces of his work, which is awesome and had a great time hanging out with friends. He’s been working recently with wood, paint and other mixed media recently that has really taken it beyond a 2 dimensional canvas level. Above are 2 of his ‘little men’ in our kitchen going on a nature hike.


Guy at the show who looks like Conan O’Brien.


This is my friend since childhood Eric Powell, looking good in some new frames and a healthy polished smile.


An assumed installation of painted high heels hanging on electric wires above Thunderbird Coffee.

Mi novia, Maria, back lit and camera shy.


Flower with sunglasses on table at Maseman’s show.


Snap at Rio Rita.

Big thanks to the Drews… First, my web designer, Drew Teiken, above in a self portrait with Blar modifications for making some crucial changes to my photography website and new photoshelter online archive.

Secondly to NYC based photographer Drew Anthony Smith who has been making epic snaps and recently visited Washington for a wedding some cherry pie. I’ve been watching David Lynch’s Twin Peaks tv series to celebrate its recent 20 year anniversary. If you don’t know TP is credited for changing prime time dramatic television series that we watch today. Its kind of like a good soap opera, but not.


The Texas State Capitol.

Congress Avenue.


Yesterday, for the first time ever, I gave a private photography lesson to James, a photographer from New York who mostly shoots fine art in a controlled studio. He is trying to diversify his photography abilities and wanted learn about using his flash in different lighting situations for an event he has coming up. We talked and went over switches, dials and numbers for an hour or so and then walked around downtown Austin and made some snaps.


As a result of all the hubbub in DC regarding health care bills I’ve had many opportunities to shoot health care related stories. Above is a lit portrait I did to illustrate uninsured people who sustain injuries participating in recreational activities. Makes you think twice before you go skateboarding or rock climbing… I had the fortunate opportunity to work with stylist Robert E. Lee to make this image happen. He has a history of working in specialized make up for horror and action films. Pretty realistic stuff huh?

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May 4, 2010 at 12:56 pm

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