Austin Texas photography blog by Ben Sklar

Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Irrelevant today, gone yesterday. Rick Perry’s Response for Newsweek

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It’s really amazing how fast things change. Six months ago Gov. Rick Perry was a strong contender for the White House and what feels like overnight he’s disappeared from relevance in the Republican primary race. In August Perry tried to rally the conservative Christian right at an evangelical prayer event held at Reliant Arena in Houston. I was commissioned by Newsweek Magazine to photograph the rally, Perry and anything else of interest.  People were really into their prayer and that’s what interested me most so I remember aggressively wandering around the floor of the stadium shooting what these people were passionate about. I tried to understand or atleast make a visual translation of what they were doing. Before the event I was pretty terrified of what might take place but it was a wake up call to a vast sector of the American population that I’m rarely exposed to in Austin’s liberal/apathetic/progressive bubble. The participants were fasting during the rally as a part of the Call to Prayer so there was no food to be found. This was a logistical nightmare for a working photographer so I came prepared with croissants from breakfast (I ate 4).


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A few weeks back I had the pleasure of photographing U.S. Senate hopeful Ted Cruz for the New York Times. Cruz is seeking the Republican nomination for Texas’ open senate seat. The idea concept of the shoot was to document the candidate on the campaign trial – great! My day was longer than I expected: it began at 6am when I drove to San Antonio to catch him at the airport for his 8am arrival, then we met at an IHop for a Tea Party chapter meeting, then we went to a Republican Women’s Forum, shot a portrait in a large empty storage room (above), then a Starbuck’s for a conference call and then we drove to Marble Falls had a bite at a Whataburger (far below) and then attended another Tea Party meeting (below). I left Ted with his constituents at the 2nd Tea Party gathering at close to 10pm to drive back to Austin. The Tea Party group in Marble Falls was very concerned about my presence and the company I represented, which became a small ordeal and led to an exhausting evening after a long day.

This shoot falls into the small wave of conservative Texas themed shoots I’ve had throughout the fall since Rick Perry announced his run for the Presidential nomination. These are some of my best images from the shoot. You can see the NYTimes slideshow of the true conservative Ted Cruz’ life on the campaign trail here. The print edition is down at the bottom. Enjoy!