Austin Family Portraits

Austin Family Portaits | The Hilder Family

Sometimes the stars align and shit just works out.

The day before I was set to fly to Austin to photograph Lisa and Michael’s Mercury Hall wedding an old friend and former co-worker reached out to me on facebook, asking when the next time I was coming to town was going to be.  They wanted family portraits while their youngest, Ranger, was still a roly-poly mess of adorable babyness.  Conveniently, I was basically en route and we scrambled together to find a time to meet while I was there.  When the world feels totally random and chaotic, there’s a sort of beautiful poetry in everything coming together just like that.  I guess that’s fate.  I am so thrilled I was able to see Stephen after so many years (10?!?) and meet his amazing rockstar wife and accommodate their request some awesome Austin family portraits for their family.  I had a blast!  Their eldest son, Maverick, is a spitfire of spunk, sass and hilarity.  He was pure entertainment the entire morning: hooting like an owl, spraying like a skunk, and generally just strutting his stuff.  When the internet has me feeling dismayed and sorrowful, all it takes is a few glances at the photos of this family to make me smile.

Austin Family PortraitsAustin Family PortraitsAustin Family PortraitsAustin Family PortraitsAustin Family PortraitsAustin Family PortraitsAustin Family PortraitsAustin Family PortraitsAustin Family PortraitsAustin Family Portraits

Austin Portrait Photographer

Anytime Light Workshop Sneak Peak

I don’t even know where to begin with this.

But I think this sums it up:


I’m pretty good at lighting up really delightful sunset portraits, but damn, there are things you can do with light that I just hadn’t even considered.  As Miche said after I showed her the photo, clearly, “the limits are kind of boundaries.”

I present, exhibit A: turning day into night.   We shot this in the middle of the afternoon with the sun high in the sky.

I fooled you.

More to come from the Anytime Light Workshop I attended with AzulOx in Austin, TX.

Foxygen concert photo

Austin Event Photographer | SXSW

Every March for the past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to head down to my hometown Austin, TX to work for SXSW.  I started off as a Volunteer Photographer and today, work for the SXSW Sales Team.  Just last month, I returned to be an Austin event photographer for a 2nd time this year for their amazing environmentally focused event SXSW Eco.

 After a few years of working at SXSW, my photos are finally starting to show up on their website.  I’m not sure if the excitement of seeing one of my photos in use will ever wear off and frankly, I hope it never does!  I was particularly thrilled to see this one up from SXSW Bites.  I actually can’t take all the credit for it though – although I snapped the shutter, Erik Moore was sitting across from me while we were eating lunch, saw the opportunity and pointed it out.

SXSW runs the show with more than 3,000 volunteers a year in all sorts of capacities.  If you have any inkling of attending but can’t afford it, volunteering is an amazing way to visit this event.  SXSW Volunteer Registration for 2015 just opened and out-of-town volunteers are accepted.   If you are a beginning photographer, joining the photography team is a great way to hone your skills in a variety of very tough lighting situations: from low lit convention centers to red-lit concert stages, there is nothing that progressed my early skills faster than they consistent daily shooting for two weeks at SXSW.

That being said, photography volunteers are only a fraction of the volunteers SXSW needs.  They need folks to run registration, work at the gaming expo, check badges, the list is endless!  If you are only interested in music, head down and volunteer for interactive or gaming and trade your time for a music badge.  If you’re interested in interactive, work the music portion so that your schedule is free.

This shot of Foxygen in use on the website was one I took my first year, as a volunteer, while not on assignment.  Foxygen recently released a new album (it’s great) and some of the shots from that night at the Hype Hotel are still some of my most favorite concert shots ever.

Anne and I are already looking forward to returning to Austin in March for another great year at SXSW.  It’s quickly become my favorite music festival to discover new bands, great films and meet really cool people like Lindsey Loon, a super rad actress at the helm of an Australian film festival, that I still keep in touch with.

Crossfit Photography, Crossfit Promo Photos, Crossfit Texas, Austin Commercial Photography

Austin Freelance Photographer | CrossFit Texas Sneak Peek

I’m so excited for my friends Liana and Terry Collie!  They are following their dreams and just bought a gym after their own passion: CrossFit Texas in Pflugerville.  Since I was traveling all the way to Texas to shoot a San Antonio Wedding a few weeks ago, they requested that I make a stop in Austin to help with new marketing photos for their small business.  Here’s a sneak peek of what’s to come!  Congrats to my friends, whose awesomeness knows no bounds.

SXSW 2014 Preview

I’m back in Texas to photograph for SXSW for the 2nd year in a row.  I know what’s coming for me: loads of amazing new music, beer, and very little sleep.  It’s an awesome time and it all starts this Saturday.

I’ve been attempting to prepare myself by drinking a lot and pre-listening to the SXSW “Four on the Floor” Preview Lists.  Here are a couple of acts I discovered on there that I’m super excited to see:

  • I became super obsessed with Juliette Ashby’s voice the moment I heard the first song.  Her blend of R&B, Reggae and Neo-Soul isn’t something I would have ever pegged myself for being attracted to, but I’m hooked.

  • The Mighty Oaks may be confused since they are playing Americana-Folk but hail from Berlin, Germany but I’m not confused about how awesome their music is.

  • Ski Lodge: pop fun for a bluebird powder day.  Right up my alley.

  • Pompeya is a pop blend of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

  • Shakey Graves has been making headlines outside of his hometown of Austin, TX: headlines loud enough that his reputation precedes him and he’s now on my must-see list for the week.

  • Elle King mades waves last year at SXSW but I unfortunately missed catching one of her shows.  I will not make the same mistake again this year!

SXSW Wrap-Up: Final Thoughts

Miscellaneous other thoughts on SXSW 2013

Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale: aka the two “best dressed men at SXSW.”

  • Paste Magazine’s day party during SXSW Music was consistently the best line-up.  I missed quite a few shows that I would have loved to see at the Stages on Sixth, like the Zombies (!) due to assignments, but overall, almost every day I knew I could show up there and be guaranteed a great line-up of stellar bands.  You can see all my photos from the Stages on Sixth shows that I caught via this link.
Paste Magazine, SXSW, Stages on Sixth, Austin

A little girl peeks into the show at the HGTV and Paste Magazine Stages on Sixth Show.

  • At the Paste + Sennheiser Interactive Lounge at the Blackheart during SXSW Interactive there was always someone interesting being interviewed, plus I had a friend who interns for Paste that was always stuck hanging out guarding equipment so it was rad to know that I could always find him in his corner.  Plus, they have good beer at the Blackheart.  Anne got to take a photo with Marcel the Shell and we got to listen to Aisha Tyler get interviewed.  She’s awesome.  I missed the Elle King show there but got to watch Seryn one afternoon, which happened to be absolutely perfect afternoon porch music.  You can check out all my photos from the Paste + Sennheiser Interactive Lounge via this link.
Seryn, SXSW, SXSW 2013, Paste Magazine, The Blackheart on Rainey, Austin

Seryn: perfect tunes for a Southern front porch.

Matthew Lesko, SXSW, SXSW 2013

Oh yeah, THIS happened. That’s right, that’s the infamous infomercial man Matthew Lesko.

Have an inkling to go to SXSW?  SXSW runs the show with more than 3,000 volunteers a year.  Trade your time for credentials.  Check here in November 2013 for information on next year.

Previously in my SXSW wrap-up:

Intro to SXSW

#12: Devendra Banhart

#11: PHOX

#10: Social Studies

#9: Guards

#8: Zeale

#7: Red Baraat

#6: Josh Ritter

#5: Pickwick

#4: Reignwolf

#3: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

#2: The Orwells

#1: Foxygen

SXSW Wrap-Up: Other Memorable Shows

Guards, SXSW 2013, SXSW, Concert Photography, Reno Tahoe Concert Photography

My Top SXSW Acts: #9

My favorite new artists from SXSW 2013

#9: Guards

SXSW, Guards Music, Guards Band, Stages on Sixth, Paste Magazine, HGTV,

Guards’ Kaylie Church.

If you like the Cults, you’ll like Guards.  Guards frontman Richie James Follin is brother to Cults’ frontwoman Madeline Follin.  While both bands have a similar foundation, Guards’ music is more stripped down and raw than that of the Cults and what you’re left with is an edgy modern 60’s pop sound.  Their show, even in the middle of the day, is intensely earnest, even in it’s cool calculated transcendence.

Previously in my SXSW wrap-up:

Intro to SXSW

#12: Devendra Banhart

#11: PHOX

#10: Social Studies

SXSW, Stages on Sixth, Paste Magazine, HGTV, Guards, Guards music, Guards Band

Guards frontman Richie Follin.

My Top SXSW Acts: #12

My favorite new artists from SXSW 2013


You should go see Devendra Banhart play just so that you can gawk at his adorably endearing faces.  The jazzy, sweet, silliness of his lyrics and unrestricted hippy melodies are alluring, but not half as much as the antics going on between his cheeks and in his smile.   I’d honestly never heard of him, mostly because I shy away from the folky-hippy-dippy.  Don’t let that scare you though.  He was 100% my sleeper hit of the week.

Banhart’s new album, ‘Mala, came out on March 12th.

Previously in my SXSW wrap-up:

Intro to SXSW

SXSW Wrap-Up

I had grand plans before my arrival at SXSW.  I was going to see everyone, do everything, make the most of it!

It became clear to me that nothing was going to go according to plan when we suddenly and unexpectedly had to fly to Texas a day early.

I took running clothes with me as if I would actually do something other than listen to music, drink beer and take photos.  I was so wrong.

SXSW, Haus of Hipstamatic, Austin

Anne and I at the Haus of Hipstamatic at SXSW.

I thought I would get some sleep.  HA.  Thou shall not sleep at SXSW.  Actually, I did, three times, on the hallway floors of the convention center.   One day, I took a hard core 40 minute long nap at the base of the Radio Stage in the Convention Center with my camera bag under my feet and my camera cradled in my arms.  When I woke up for Vampire Weekend’s set, another concert goer came over and congratulated me on my sleeping abilities. He was jealous.  I don’t think that anyone at SXSW gets a normal amount of sleep.  No one except Anne, who slept til noon every day.

Ezra Koenig, Vampire Weekend, ACC Radio Stage, Austin Convention Center, SXSW, concert photography

Ezra Koenig performs with Vampire Weekend on the ACC Radio Stage at SXSW.

I thought I would see all my Austin friends that I never get to see that were also at SXSW.  This is not possible.  After 1 PM every day, it is so overwhelming, all the time, that anywhere you aren’t is too much to even think about.  With over 2000 official acts playing and hundreds of unofficial parties every day, SXSW very rapidly became about seeing the band, in front of you, right at that moment.  Going somewhere other than where you are became a complex decision involving lots of fear: fear of crowds, fear of lines, fear that they ran out of free beer, fear that you would have to go to the Hype Hotel where they try to feed you Miller Lite and Taco Bell, fear that the band wouldn’t be as good, fear that the person you are with that doesn’t have a badge won’t get in, fear that you’ll want to come back to where you are and won’t be able to get in.  Instead, you give up and drink more and that seems to make it all better.

SXSW interactive, SXSW, Austin, Event Photography

A SXSW Interactive attendee stares at his phone during a presentation.

At SXSW Interactive, nerds walk around running into each other because they are too busy tweeting on their phones to pay attention to where they are going.  Imagine thousands of people doing this at once.  The ones that aren’t walking around looking at their iphone are sitting against the wall trying to charge their iphone because no one’s phone battery lasts an entire day, mine included.  At SXSW, you pick places to hang out based on the proximity of electrical outlets to where you want to stand.

Haus of Hipstamatic, SXSW, The Ridges, Concert Photography

The Ridges perform at the Haus of Hipstamatic

I’m not even remotely sure what happens at SXSW Film because although I had huge plans to go see a bunch of movies with my platinum badge, I only saw 20 minutes of one and then I left to go drink beer somewhere.  The lure of music filled free pre-parties like The Haus of Hipstamatic and the Paste + Sennheiser Interactive Lounge kept me busy in the early week in between photography assignments of nerd panels.

Dawes, Taylor Goldsmith, Paste Magazine, Sennheiser, SXSW, Austin

Anne listens in on an interview with Taylor Goldsmith, the lead singer of Dawes at the Paste + Sennheiser Interactive Lounge at the Blackheart on Rainey.

So here it is one week after the end of the fest and I can finally begin my wrap-up.  Number of days in Austin: 12.  Number of breakfast tacos consumed: 16.  Number of beers consumed: at best estimate, definitely more than 60.  Number of margaritas: 6.  Number of bloody mary’s: 3.  Number of times I ate at Moonshine: 4.  Number of double espressos ordered: 8.  Number of days I woke up hungover: blissfully, just 1.  Number of photos taken: just over 3,000.

Over the next two weeks, I’ll tell you about my top 10 shows at SXSW, the unofficial parties I spent my time at and the acts I wish I’d seen, but didn’t, so that you can relive the ever present exhaustion that overwhelms a SXSW-goer.

SXSW, SXSW Unofficial, Mos Def,, SXSW, Chocolate Sunday photobooth at the Mos Def unofficial SXSW Chocolate Sunday afterparty

The MP3 Experiment

If you don’t know, I was just in Austin for two weeks. If you’re wondering why there hasn’t been any posts, that’s why: because I was too busy not sleeping, drinking excessively, dancing and taking photos to internet.

I was there to photograph SXSW.  Anne came with me.  We had to go early and leave late because the flights were so full that we couldn’t get out.  Instead, we just became alcoholics.  I woke up every day at SXSW and thought, I can’t possibly drink anymore and then by 3 PM I order a margarita and you know, it’s all downhill from there.

I had an amazing time, saw amazing bands, took amazing photos and met amazing people.  But, those stories will come later.  I promise a full write up on all we did, everyone we saw, where we ate and the bands that I fell in love with.

This is not that post.

This post is about something else that I love: Improv Everywhere.

In short, Improv Everywhere is a NYC based prank collective that “causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places.” Since 2001, they have put on over 100 missions involving normal people that create joy, happiness, and often, confusion. I have been following Improv Everywhere for years. They invented No Pants Subway Day that now takes place in multiple cities around the world. My favorite, and the mission that I most want to take part of, is Black Tie Beach, where participants dress up in black tie affair, descend on Coney Island Beach to act like normal patrons of the beach and pretend like nothing unusual is going on.

Improv Everywhere, Austin, We Casue Scenes, Auditorium Shores, MP3 Experiment, SXSW

Anne, participating in some synchronized stretching.

To promote their new movie, We Cause Scenes, which was accepted into the SXSW Film Festival, they put on a MP3 experiment in Austin during SXSW. The idea behind the MP3 experiments is that participants descend upon a public place and at the same time, all press play on a MP3 they have downloaded and follow the instructions. In our experiment, participants gathered at Auditorium Shores, a public park on the banks of Lady Bird Lake, and confused passer-bys with demonstrations of synchronized stretching, games of freeze tag and thumb wars, and ultimately, a balloon fight. It was a hysterical experience and made me want to be part of Black Tie Beach even more!

MP3 Experiment, Austin, SXSW, Improv Everywhere, Auditorium Shores

Balloon fight preparation

I took a TON of photos at the event. My camera card filled up right at the end though and I missed the end of the balloon fight which made me horribly sad! These are a few of my favorites from the event, but you can see all of the gallery by following this link. If you participated in the MP3 experiment, feel free to download your photos for free via the gallery and share them on social media, but please do not crop out my watermark.

Big thanks to the crew at Improv Everywhere. It was a delight and a joy to participate and I can’t wait to do it again.