Much of my SXSW coverage this year centered around my black and white portraits. Something new that I haven’t done previously. But I still went around town, capturing what I thought was interesting. While I used my PEN-F with a 50mm equivalent lens for the portraits, I used my other Olympus, the OM-D E-M5 Mark II, fitted with the versatile 14-150mm travel zoom, for these photos. The lens worked well, especially in good light, during the day.
While there are tons of marketing bucks spent on promotion, desperately trying to stand out from the crowd, I find the local Austin color, most interesting — Ruckus the Bulldog that rides a skateboard or an odd wolf-man playing a violin. There is a festive, family friendly atmosphere around SXSW, especially during the opening Interactive and Film portions. Once SXSW Music kicks in, half way through, and the big corporate sponsors leave, the atmosphere turns more gritty. For me, I feel more at home among the nerds and media people of the first half.
Like last year, the biggest and most elaborate displays where by the media companies. None this year, however, were as elaborate as last year’s Mr. Robot display, where they created a mini amusement park. TNT’s Animal Kingdom had a surfing ride along with an artist painting an elaborate mural.
As a non-badge holder, I was particularly happy that they let us regular people into a number of venues. I shot many of my SXSW portraits at the Nat Geo Further Base Camp and The Amazon Prime Video display. Here Adriana and Kelly pose in the “The Man in the High Castle” themed set that Amazon created to promote their original programming.
I noticed that they had more open, badge optional events this year. I hope they continue with this in the coming years. Perhaps the more enlightened figured out that non-badged people are customers too. So Kudos to Amazon, National Geographic/Vox Media, TNT, Panasonic, IBM, Giorgio Armani, Casper and a few other places I visited. On the other hand, a big thumbs down to the Exhibit from Japan and local tech company, Dell, who still only let badge holders through.
Carvana featured a giant car vending machine. I didn’t bother standing in line to see what they were giving out. I assumed it wasn’t a free car so I opted not to wait. But the company is interesting. They are sort of a high-end used car company, like CarMax, but with more technology.
Of course, sometimes, it’s the simple displays and adequate seating that are the most enticing. The weather for most of the four days I visited, was not ideal — cloudy, rainy and chilly. Monday, however was beautiful with blue skies and puffy clouds.
I think the hardest working folks during SXSW are the pedicab drivers. It may be the funnest and easiest way to get around.
Capital One took over Antone’s again, no doubt promoting financial services in a famous Austin club. I shot a photo like this last year, which I featured in my 2016 SXSW Photo Essay. I like this photo better, though. It’s brighter, livelier and with a nice big lens flare, purposely done.
I’m closing this photo essay with some more local color. What’s Texas without some cowboys riding through town. And no, this is not a common occurrence, even in Texas. I’m not sure if they were part of an event, or just trying to stand out.
Contrasting with the Bulldog, opening this post, here’s a Chihuahua taking in SXSW. Like I usually do, I took thousands of photos, but I figured these give a good feel for SXSW Interactive. It’s a nice opportunity for on the street photography.
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