Homage to twentieth century fine art photography.


Waiting for Godot. On the edge of the universe.

Tangled up in blue.

Shelter from the storm...

Desultory Walk in Black and White. Every City has a Soft Underbelly. So, how's that 50mm f1.8 Lumix working out?

Still standing on Congress Ave. 

I wonder what really happened to Sixth Street in downtown Austin. In the years just after my time as an endless student at UT (late 70's to early 80's) Sixth Street was mostly clean, safe, upscale, and home to some of the best restaurants and clubs in Austin. Wylie's restaurant made great burgers and had very good bar. Alana's restaurant was a perennial favorite of Texas Monthly Magazine's reviewers and a regular haunt for the Lt. Governor at the time, as well as busloads of lobbyists from the nearby Capitol. Juan Goldstein's Champagne and Caviar Bar had an interesting vibe and a clientele consisting of a huge number of Austin's advertising community. It was something like a "Mad Men" venue here. Pecan St. Cafe was the place you took a really, really special date for Sunday Brunch. And everything was anchored by the stately Driskill Hotel. 

Now the area is a vague and uncomfortable shadow of its former self. Home mostly to bars serving cheap shots and loud "music." A favorite location for tattoo parlors, and down market beer halls. The bands who used to perform at downtown clubs have moved on and what's left are people who want to get drunk fast and cheap, intermixed with the occasional tourists who are working from very, vey old guidebooks. And the homeless. And various trouble makers. 

It's kind of fun to walk through if you are a fearless photographer but I'd never take my spouse along. I wonder why this obvious and relentless decay happened when all logic would have screamed to the local chamber of commerce that this could be a huge tourist magnet....if done correctly.

The first round of damage was the 2001 market crash. The second was the prolonged recession of 2008-2010 and I think the pandemic will be the final nail. The locale has been mostly de-gentrified. But I guess there's always hope that the unrelenting and un-curated gush of money flowing into the city will make the re-gentrification inevitable. No one who lived here in the 1970s will be happy though because the resuscitation process will  almost certainly create yet another zone of homogenous national brands and boutique shops but will leave alone none of the soul or laid back essence that made this neighborhood so delightful at an earlier time.

All that's left is to document the destruction. Another piece of what made Austin desirable now scrapped. 

From one direction to...

the other.

In other news, the combination of the Sigma fp and the Lumix 50mm f1.8 seems perfect for these kinds of walks. Especially if one is working in black and white. The lens is adequately sharp at every stop and works flawlessly with the Sigma camera...which makes really pretty black and white files. I like mine and I like how light it is. Waiting patiently to see how they do with their 35mm lens in the same family.

Forgive me if I've posted this before...

 I see this again and again. I experience things like this again and again. There used to be a marketer in town who seemed only to have clients with no real budgets for advertising but nonetheless he would take them on, propose big campaigns and then call me and say, "They have a tiny budget. We need to mercy-f*%k them. Can you do this job for $XXX?" Pretty crude and to the point.

I thought the first time that this was an outlier situation but it was the same with nearly every call for him. I finally had to sit down and explain to him that it didn't make any sense to even bid on stuff like this since these were the clients who would hem and haw about everything, panic at the drop of a hat, misunderstand just about every facet of business, change their minds in the middle of a shoot, and then take months (if ever) to pay.

On the other hand, the clients who are serious don't nickel and dime suppliers. They don't waffle when it comes to making decisions. They pay a decent price without contention. And they pay their bills on time. The quickest way to go out of business as a photographer is to take every job that comes to the door. The best way to stay in business is to routinely fire any difficult client as quickly as you can. And the one's without budgets shouldn't be calling in the first place.

20% of the clients will take 80% of your time....if you let them. Best strategy? Only keep the ones who bring a smile to your face when they call...