Austin Texas photography blog by Ben Sklar

Archive for March 2011

SxSw crossing

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Yesterday the New York Times Styles section published the cross section project I shot during the South by South West Music Conference in 3 of the 4 days during the festival.  Serendipity must have been on my side because I was basically being hired to shoot an assignment I had already assigned myself. My photo editor left the assignment pretty wide open and gave me a lot of creative freedom – 4 full days and plus an assistant, seamless and rentals.  I really enjoy shooting style and I was really excited to work with friend/super-writer Melena Ryzik again this year — she gets major props for dubbing the project “Big Whitie.” Please read Melena’s style article — there’s a great quote from Michael Cera — and view the slideshow NYTimes’ Josh Haner and I worked on relating to Melena’s story.

The project was intended to show the intersections of humanity that converge on Austin during SXSW. After the Times Styles section called it seemed like a perfect fit.  The city of Austin estimates that around 200,000 people come to Austin during the 10 day festival, but capturing the mass of this audience in a decipherable way is a challenge. Often there are so many good pictures everywhere it’s hard figuring out what to shoot when you’re out on the street. The project was premeditated and planned out in its conception, but free form and totally open to any possibility in its execution. Some people liked to jump into the wall, some people shielded their face when they saw a camera, some people thought we were shooting somebody famous, but my favorite was the 35 to 45 year old male groups that would stop and pose with their bros beckoning me to take a picture of them while they did something ridiculous. Usually I stared back at them or acted like I was on my phone while they yelled at me. The photos varied so much from crowds of people with hidden surprises in each image to individuals passing through solo in silly costumes or really stylish attire. Austinites really bring out their best during Sx — trying to impress the New Yorkers.

Logistically we used a step ladder and a bar seat with lots of gaff tape to hang 2 pieces of 9 and a half foot seamless to a wall. The extra hands came in handy here in taping the paper to the wall while supporting it, traffic passed by and the wind blew.  From there we set the camera on a tripod and hoped people would walk over our pretty white paper covering a really dirty sidewalk. The below photo was taken by Josh Haner:

This first day we sat between a band’s van and trailer which made us a little inconspicuous. Other days we weren’t so lucky as the street became more clear pedestrians started to walk around us. Most people just walked through, but sometimes people would stop and pose, other times I asked people to stop if I like their attire (because this is a style piece after all) or walk through if they were near by and wearing something really cool like Watusi the pharaoh (yes, I bought his cd):

I also owe a huge thanks to my girlfriend Maria for putting up with me during Sx and driving me to find a parking spot near the shoot location, Jake, Bruce and the Plush Bar staff for letting me do this, my friend and assistant Josh Verduzco, The NYTimes crew Josh, Miki and Melena for being supportive and giving me valuable feedback the whole time in executing this project, Beth on the photo desk for trusting me when I told her “I have a lot of great ideas for this,” my friend Ray on the NYTimes Multimedia desk who put the whole thing together and Tom who worked with Beth on editing the photos. Also, gotta thank my amigos Lance Rosenfield for stopping by and making some snaps (photo credit below) as well as Matt Norris for hanging out and breaking down with me on day 3.

I also owe some credit to the Kent Ave crew – Drew Anthony Smith, Joe Buglewicz and Jordan Gomez who turned me on to this concept and inspired me to go make it happen during SXSW. The festival was really the perfect opportunity to do this.

Without all these people none of this would have been made possible – THANKS!

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Written by bensklar

March 25, 2011 at 10:47 am

SXSW – crowd control

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The Statesman published one of my images on the online dress yesterday about crowd control during SXSW. I took the photo last Thursday — the morning after I saw a line begin to form at the Red 7 for metal bands including White Chapel and Riverboat Gamblers. The crowd began to crowd the doorway and spill into the street as fans jockeyed for position. The club owners, who are notoriously ruthless, refused to let any cutters in and forced people out of the line to the back. The police and fire marshal were on hand, but offered little assistance.  Later in the week the fence came down at the Strokes show at Auditorium shores and again as a riot like scenario unfolded at Beauty Bar for punk band Death From of Above 1979.

I was stoked they published this photo and found an applicable use for it. See the Statesman’s full SXSW coverage here and stay tuned on the blog for more of my snaps.

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March 22, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Posted in music, photography, sxsw

Sx end, photo a new

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SXSW is finally over – hooray! I worked for 11 days straight and had a lot of fun and made a lot of really great photos I’m excited about.

Prior to Sx the Wall Street Journal sent me to Houston to cover the Rodeo. It was a long day and the start of the longest week of my year so far. I took this picture when I got lost in Reliant Stadium trying to find my way out, but got lucky and found the ferris wheel through a vacant stairwell. I was really happy when the WSJ photo staff published this image as the closer in this wonderful online slideshow.

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March 21, 2011 at 12:42 pm

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T Magazine

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T Magazine published a photo of mine from last year’s late night after party escapades with writer Melena Ryzik (or follow her on Twitter). This is from the No Age party at the ND at 501 Studios.

The music portion of SXSW 2011 starts today and I have had my badge in my possession for about an hour – picked it up this morning!

Be sure to RSVP so you can attend these outrageous parties!

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March 16, 2011 at 9:41 am

New York City 4

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There is no shortage of lust and parties in New York City.

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March 8, 2011 at 1:26 pm

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NYC day 3

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I think I realized that New York City really does not sleep on this day…

SXSW is right around the corner and I’m gearing up – helping out on a HBO shoot, NYTimes and AAS. I’m also planning on following a few bands throughout the fest for some behind the scenes imagery, fan portraits and a crossing on a corner. Should be fun!

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March 7, 2011 at 11:36 am

Gary Clarke Jr at the Brooklyn Bowl

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On my second evening in New York I went to the Brooklyn Bowl with old friends from Patton Elementary, including Gary, Tyler and Robbie to see Gary play. We had a lot of fun catching up, exchanging stories. The Brooklyn Bowl is a really nice venue and apparently the food is good too… and there is bowling.  Gary rocked and opened for the Funky Meters – good times!

 

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March 2, 2011 at 8:02 am

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