Austin Texas photography blog by Ben Sklar

Archive for the ‘The New York Times’ Category

Texas Drought

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I covered a national news story recently for the New York Times about the Spicewood Beach community running out of water. The private community near Austin has its own well that was gifted to the LCRA to manage years back. Now the community is having water trucked in to meet its needs. I gathered a generally bitter feeling from the residents who were very friendly, but obviously unhappy with the impeding stress of their situation. You can read Manny Fernandez story about the Texas Drought and see some of my images too.

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February 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Tom Six

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I photographed Tom Six, the director of the Human Centipede films. In case you’re not familiar with his work here is a summary sentence from the Times article my photograph accompanied: “But most fundamentally “The Human Centipede 2” is, like its predecessor, about a man who kidnaps people and stitches them together, mouth to anus”

He was a really nice guy, not as sinister as I thought by any means, and was very gracious with his time as I shuffled lights and moved us to many locations. We shot during Fantastic Fest, where he is revered like royalty, at the Highball in my neighborhood. You can read the New York Times article and view a segments of the films too. These are some of my favorite photographs from the shoot.

Festie update

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Two weekends ago I shot the Austin City Limits music festival for the New York Times. I had a good time and made a lot of pictures. Here you can view the Times slideshow of my work over the 3 day festival with New York writer Nate Chinen. I wanted to share some of my favorites and some images that were not published in the Times.

Kanye

Bamboo flag

Sleep

Party

Wait for Stevie

Sleep

Wait

Party

Sleep

Party

Rest and read a book during a european hike across Zilker Park

Theophilus London

Arcade Fire fans

Arcade Fire fans

Arcade Fire

 

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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March 25, 2011 at 10:47 am

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