Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stopping by at Can't Stop Street

Everyday as I leave for work I drive past a man who walks up and down my street with a broom. When I come back he's still walking.

Years ago I lived next to a women who every Thursday morning, before the sun came out, would cruise through recycling bins. A few months later the bank foreclosed on her home.

Last summer I found a man drawing with chalk on street corners. Everyone knew about him, but no one knew his name.

We've all seen them and everyday we look over our shoulder as we fly by and wonder what they're about. But we never stop to find out.

I think that's partly why I got into this field. I was always a shy kid. But the camera drew me out. The chance to communicate my thoughts and ideas, to show others the way I see things and to do so without having to talk to anyone sounded pretty good at the time.

It didn't last though. Walking anywhere with a camera in my neighborhood wasn't very inconspicuous, I might as well have hired a guy to walk around behind me with a spinning arrow. In hindsight that probably would have been safer.

I was getting noticed everywhere I went, people were coming up to me, curious about the clicking box in my hands, asking me to take their picture, wondering what I was up to. I was talking to people I would never have normally stopped to talk to; hearing their take on current events, sharing laughs and taking trips down memory lane. Sitting with them on a street corner, at the bus stop, walking in the park; I was finding stories and interesting people everywhere I turned.

It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. My camera had become my excuse to not be shy and before long I was finding my curiosity was taking over too.

Fast forward to today and I guess I'm still at it. Stopping at a street called Can't Stop, because my camera allowed me the excuse.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Butterfly Migration

Turns out there's a family of the monarch butterflies which migrate through south Texas and today I had the opportunity to make a two hour drive to spend the day in a sea of them fluttering all around me.

For a day, I feel like I'm back in California :)

There's more pictures if you're interested in the slideshow over at the San Antonio Express-News website.


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Monday, October 05, 2009

Sinkhole recharge

A series of caves in Stone Oak City Park are part of the recharge zone for the aquifer.

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Friday, October 02, 2009

Lost in translation

When I was handed an assignment sheet to cover the San Anto Cultural Arts press conference, I was a bit confused.

They're going to crown King and Queen Huevo? "Eggs," I thought. "Am I losing something in translation here?"

It turns out my two years of bumbling through high school Spanish had once again come through.

It was their founders' sense of humor, I was told when I arrived. Even calling the event they were promoting a gala was part of the joke.

I liked the sound of that; I carried some of the same affinity for the absurd.

In reality, the 12th annual Huevos Rancheros Gala fundraiser taking place Oct. 3 is far from a formal affair, but instead a picnic style breakfast at Plaza Guadalupe. The gala features music, a silent art auction and, of course, a full huevos rancheros breakfast. Admission is 99 cents to $999 — i.e. pay what you can.

The press had been called to gather under the brightly colored La Musica de San Anto mural along Commerce Street. Flanked by depictions of other mifoto huevos 100209 05.jpglocal musicians, there was Cultural Arts founder Manuel "Manny" D. Castillo Jr. mid-song: eyes winced, mouth agape, pounding the drums with his signature print of Our Lady of Guadalupe lining the drum bass.

I have no idea who he is.

The locals look at me like I'm an alien when I ask about him.

It's not a look uncommon to me since I arrived in San Antonio a few months ago. The last time I'd seen that look, it came from David Robinson's father, Ambrose. I approached him to get his name.

Hey, what can I say? I'm not from around these parts. Plus that is one of the joys of this job — getting to learn something new every day.

As I hear tales of Manny from the volunteers, family members and the organization I look up at his mural and I am sad. I wish I would have met this man who touched so many lives and tried to make a change in his community, even when the odds were against him.

It's something we all aspire to — making a difference. In my line of work, I think it is what drives most of us photojournalists. It certainly isn't the pay. This job is not about getting one over on someone or making them look bad — only the bean counters care about that. Those of us in the trenches, we're just hoping to end the day having shined a light on a dark corner and maybe if we're lucky, once in our career, will report something that affects positive change.

The podium is moved into place and after the speakers make their announcements one by one, its now time for the crescendo. With Manny reigning over the event from his Technicolor stucco canvas, a crown of feathers and sequins are placed atop his mother and father.

Long live King and Queen Eggs.

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