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.