My friend has said that Earth is the best planet in the Milky Way, that the United States is the finest country on it, and Texas is the greatest state in the nation. Austin is certainly the coolest city in the state. Therefore, through the transitive properties of critical opinion, Austin is the most excellent city in the galaxy. I can’t disagree. Despite the stifling heat, invincible traffic, the ceaseless construction of sterile monolithic condos that look like USB flash drives, and the inescapable presence of high-water denim-clad hipsters with their cursive mustaches, blood-constricting V-neck T-shirts, horn-rimmed glasses and opinions about everything, we also have plenty of things going for us. We earned our unofficial galactic superiority by offering great cuisine (from quirky food trailers and spectacular stationary restaurants) and uniquely beautiful music coming at you from all directions. Austin is also home to internationally recognized festivals of every kind, a world-renown university, countless watering holes (slang and literal), and an abundance of engaging souls, including those ubiquitous hipsters, who will readily volunteer their refined opinions with unmatched zeal.
General George S. Patton oncenoted, “An active mind cannot exist in an inactive body,” and the desire to engage our great city with vibrant movement is abundant. We have an impressive population of tree-hugging cowboys who love the outdoors. They stay fit in all manner of ways, whether it’s paddling on the water (sitting, standing squatting), jogging on trails (or making their own), cycling from one end of the city to the other, swimming laps, or by kicking or throwing almost any object that can be kicked or thrown. From toddlers to octogenarians, the humans in the heart of this state just can’t seem to sit still.
For the first time in awhile, I was commissioned to shoot art. It was to adorn the workout room in the building from which the Longhorn Network broadcasts. In half a dozen shots, the client hoped to convey the beauty of Austin and the energy of an active lifestyle among its residents. I was essentially given carte blanche to capture that however I wished. That freedom can be simultaneously liberating and terrifying.
As usual, I started the project by simply observing the world around me through the filter of my assignment. I found a definitive heartbeat in numerous places, and for a period of time, I felt that my hot pursuit of these hyper mobile denizens was a sport of its own. After three weeks of hunting and shooting, I was satisfied (and so was my client) with the results. I hope those slivers of frozen time might encourage somebody in that workout room to push him- or herself beyond their goals, or finds the peace, discipline and patience to sustain their regimen. Even if they’re drenched in sweat and cramping up, I hope that anyone who sees the photos remembers to have fun. Staying fit and motivated ensures your body’s health, but recognizing nature’s balanced beauty beyond the walls and windows of your car, office or home delivers invaluable peace of mind as well.