Texas Drought

Texas weather is notorious for being changeable. Like other places in the middle of North America, Texas comes under the influence of warm Gulf moisture and frigid air from far north. The clash between the two makes for violent conditions especially in spring and fall.

Climate wise most of Texas is semiarid. Tending to be hot and dry most years. It seems Texas is in a zone of latitude which frequently changes from drought to adequate rainfall depending in large part on Pacific Ocean temperatures. The last decade has been primarily drought. Year after year the rains failed to materialize and reservoirs emptied in a predictable fashion until much of the state was subject to water rationing. In the last couple of years some communities have been importing water in trucks for drinking purposes. Even century old trees started dying from lack of water.

The drought caused major disruption for farmers and ranchers across the state. They found themselves without water or competing with cities for the remaining supplies. The result was failure of many agricultural operations, wholesale liquidation of livestock and farm equipment.

I began documenting communities In the Texas Hill Country around the turn of the millennium. Among my regular stops are popular places on the Guadalupe and Medina rivers. Over the years I have photographed both rivers dozens of times. Even in the worst of the drought some water was flowing. Then one day I drove out to a crossing on the Medina River and it was dry. It was shocking to stand in the riverbed with my tripod and camera.

For now rains have returned to recharge the aquifers. The state is no longer parched. It will be a long time before the first drought of the new century is forgotten. Water is now managed more carefully. Regardless of how well we manage resources we are at the mercy of the climate.

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Dance Frenzy
Dance Frenzy
Dia de los Muertos celebrations in San Antonio are full of tradition. On this night near the Instituto Cultural de Mexico, a drum and dance procession from the arts group Urban 15 began performing. After a few minutes they made their way inside the building, snaking around the altars into a gallery room. The room quickly became a swirl of sound and motion. The performance in this small space was so intense that it became a visceral physical experience. It was quite extraordinary.

Lady in Feather Boa
Lady in Feather Boa

The Conversation

Is this series of photographs about conversation or confrontation? It is difficult to say when only a few moments in time are captured. How can we judge the situation accurately? That is not possible really. Just the same human beings always create some context for an image. It is part of the process of storing a memory. So like it or not we do make judgments about what we see.

It seems to me the process of journalism is very difficult when it comes to photographs. Images are such powerful sources of information that the written word simply can’t compete. A photograph, especially a dramatic one, will form memories even before we read anything about the context of a situation. That is something to consider in our visually saturated media world. I’m glad I’m not a journalist.