Moving beyond portraits at the Texas Photo Festival

Rusted Eye - Smithville, Texas

Rusted Eye – Smithville, Texas

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, last month, I headed east to Smithville to attend the Texas Photo Festival. It was the third time out of the last 4 years that I’ve gone. The format of the event is pretty much the same though I’ve noticed that it has become more popular over the years. This year, there was a hefty crowed of photographers shooting in a confined space in and around Main Street. The event was interesting and weird at the same time. There were sets setup with models and props along the street and the adjoining park where people could shoot, primarily portraits. The thing is, the event was now so popular that many of the sets were overflowing with weekend photographers encircling the subjects. It was difficult to get a clean portrait without getting loads of distracting photographers in the background. It has become an amusement park for photographers.

A novice photographer can have a great time going out to the Texas Photo Festival. The thing is, I guess after the 3rd time, I was ready to move on and do other things. Taking portraits in the mid day light, surrounded by lots of people, was no longer appealing. And perhaps, over the years, I have grown as a photographer or at least my interest has changed. My friend Mike pretty much agreed and we decided to walk around Smithville instead, to capture bits and pieces of this old place. We shot architecture, trinkets at antique stores and the mellow decay that we found interesting.

We reserved the best light, at the end of the day, for most of our architecture. To pass the time we explored stores and found details that would not be affected by the harsh mid-day light. Smithville is a city in transition and the Chamber of Commerce is working hard to promote the place. A couple of big Hollywood movies (Hope Floats and The Tree of Life) were filmed there and these type of events (like the photo festival) draw people from Austin and Houston. Only a few blocks away from the Main Street sets, the place was calm. As a big city person, I found the hunt for visual treasure in this small place, relaxing. For part 1 of this series, I wanted to showcase the color and texture of Smithville, as seen on that warm October afternoon.

Window with Artistic Distress - Smithville, Texas

Window with Artistic Distress – Smithville, Texas

Window with Texture - Smithville, Texas

Window with Texture – Smithville, Texas

Old Lamp with Character - Smithville, Texas

Old Lamp with Character – Smithville, Texas

Mossy Curb - Smithville, Texas

Mossy Curb – Smithville, Texas

Candy Red Pickup with Flag - Smithville, Texas

Candy Red Pickup with Flag – Smithville, Texas

Please make sure to click on the photographs to see a larger image and hover over the photos to see the exposure detail.

See more photographs that I shot with the Olympus E-P3 and Panasonic Leica 25mm and use the << Previous Photo link to see the next page of photos.

All of the photographs on this post were shot with an Olympus E-P3 using the Panasonic Leica 25mmf1.4 lens. I brought two cameras but used just one. Nice and light and easy to carry all day with no problems.

9 thoughts on “Moving beyond portraits at the Texas Photo Festival

  1. Andy, great photos, and thanks for posting them!

    I went to this event 2 years ago, and the best photos that I took were of the kids “catching air” at the skateboard park. There were very few other photographers interested in them, so they helped me by pointing to where they thought I might get a good shot of them – at least they let me know where they were all going to go airborne for the next 20 minutes or so.

    I also got a few interesting photos of the marching drum corp and also using continuous shooting mode while the cheerleaders performed acrobatic flips out on the street.

    I had fun that year. I didn’t go last year due to the rain, and I didn’t go this year simply because I was completely unaware that they were even having it.

    I like the concept, but also believe that as it becomes more popular, it will become a victim of its own popularity. Your blog post seems to indicate that is becoming the case.

    1. Gregg, thank you. They didn’t have the skateboard park this year. I think that if this popularity continues, they will have to change the format or expand the venue.

  2. Many events are/ have become a place where photographers outnumber civilians. It’s actually impossible to get any photograph of any value. i’ve slowly starting to prefer doing shoots on streets, coffee shops but not at advertised events. i won’t carry a large DSLR and super long teles to try isolate a subject. Nor a super wide that takes in the Gulf coast all the way to Canada..
    There are so many day to day images. Dig deeper and they will literally pop out at you.
    Your shots exactly what i am doing. i do portraits on the street as well.
    We now have super compact cameras with great lenses and almost unbelievable possibilities of exposure,which a few years ago simply did NOT exist.
    i shoot daily an average of 50 shots. Some days way more, others less so. No excuse not to carry a camera. i don’t at this time consider a mobile phone camera. Reason, no cell phone! Go get ’em tigers!

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