Stories from Texas

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February 6, 2019

Picturing Texas

By: W.F. Strong

Over the past decade I’ve seen more breathtakingly beautiful photographs of Texas than I saw in all the decades before, combined. This is thanks to social media where many photographers share their exquisite work online daily. I’ve made it a point to befriend these great visual artists so I can enjoy Texas in all its resplendent glory from mountain to sea, from high plains to the tropics. I will share with you the names of some of my favorites so that you can see Texas through their gifted eyes. Now this is just MY list, work I’ve come to know somewhat at random. Many of your favorites I will no doubt miss, but perhaps you can add mine to your list of favorites, and you can add yours to mine at the end of this commentary.

In no particular order, here we go.

Wyman Meinzer is the official State Photographer of Texas. He was given this honorary title by the 1997 Texas Legislature at the request of Governor George W. Bush. They wanted to recognize his extraordinary body of work that captures the varied landscapes of Texas and the people who work the land. I love his titles: Between Heaven and Texas, Windmill Tales, and Horses to Ride, Cattle to Cut – among the more than 20 books he has published.

They say he has “traveled to every corner of this great state… in search of the first and last rays of sunlight in its magnificent sweep across the Texas landscape.” Find him at www.wymanmeinzer.com

Jeff Lynch left his heart in West Texas. His photographs of the soft cotton clouds floating above the Davis Mountains on a summer’s day, or his pics of the shadows of those clouds roaming across the vast vistas of West Texas, will make you fall in love with that region just as he has.

See his work at Jeff Lynch Photography on Facebook and Instagram.

Carol M. Highsmith is what I call a photographic philanthropist. She has donated her entire body of U.S. photographs (including hundreds of Texas photos) to an online collection viewable anytime for free at the Library of Congress website. You can search her Texas Lyda Hill collection with simple words like “longhorns,” “cowboys,” or “Big Tex.” Her photographs are downloadable and royalty free. She is a visual documentarian. Her Texas work celebrates landscapes, cityscapes, small-town life, and the diverse cultures of the Lone Star State. Here is her web Library of Congress address:   https://www.loc.gov/collections/carol-m-highsmith/about-this-collection/

My favorite coastal photographer is John Martell. He says, “Texas is a photographer’s paradise.” Every day, it seems, from his base of operations in Rockport, he posts an awe-inspiring photo of a sunrise or sunset over Aransas bay. He says, “Texas is a rich treasure trove for nature lovers. As a photographer I want to capture the essence of these jewels. That always seems to be about the light, which translates into sunrises and sunsets.”

Find him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JohnMartellPhotography/

Tim McKenna is to me the consummate photographer of Big Bend. In fact, he was commissioned to provide all the photos for the 2018 Big Bend National Park calendar. He can make a cactus flower in the desert look as delicate as a Tyler rose. He puts you in the moment of being bathed in the pink hues of an Emory Peak sunrise or enjoying the soft grey light of the desert after a rain – so real, you’d swear you can smell the musky tones of the damp creosote bushes around you. His work assures you that the desert is a place of infinite life. When he was a young man he hunted with a rifle. Now, he hunts with a camera. You can find him here: https://www.facebook.com/tim.mckenna.31

Larry White loves trains and old cars and trucks and hill country wildflowers. His photographs of a freight train rumbling through ancient East Texas forests or old trucks sitting in forgotten fields will stir your heart in new ways. His photograph of white horses grazing silently at sunrise in a field of bluebonnets is one of his best. No one is better at photographing wildflowers than Larry White. I think he was born with a camera in his hand.

You can find his work at https://www.facebook.com/larrywhitephotography/

Also, www.larrywhitephoto.com

If the stately nature of the King of Beasts, or the grace and beauty of tigers peaks your interest, then David Pine’s work will inspire you. His aim is to depict the essence of an animal in a still shot. “Still photography,” he says, “is the art of capturing a fleeting moment that can express the gamut of emotions not otherwise seen. You want to capture the soul of a creature through its eyes.” Many of his photos come from zoos and rescue zoos in Texas.

https://www.facebook.com/DavidPinePhotography

George McLemore is an incredibly artistic photographer of life in Texas (Texana), but most importantly to me – he has been the visual chronicler of my social circles for several decades now. For most of his life, he has preserved on film and online, the social gatherings and special events for all who have been in his orbit, and he has done it mostly for free. Thirty  years ago we found his covert clicking unnecessary. But now, for many of us, we realize that we would have no record of that time if it weren’t for him. And we are grateful for the treasures he shares with us often from his labyrinth of negatives and digital files. To all the McLemores of the world, I raise my Shiner Bock to them – those visionary souls who recognized the Kodak moments of our lives that we seemed blind to. www.mclemorephotography.com


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