Dallas, Texas – The Beginnings of a Photographic Essay
I began photographing the city of Dallas on March 1st of 2012. I remember seeing images of Dallas by an extraordinarily talented photographer and thinking, “I don’t have any images of home.” It inspired me to want to create my own images of Dallas, and, to share that with other people who also call this city home.
I remember the very first image I intentionally made of Dallas – long before 2012 – was, by all accounts, terrible; far too awful to share here. That evening, the sun had already gone down, so the sky had become black with only those yellow, artificial lights from the buildings to illuminate the city. I set up my camera at a popular tourist site just along Commerce St, right across the Trinity River. Right in front of me, of course, was the Dallas County Jail, then the cityscape. But I can clearly remember this rush of energy and feeling of excitement. Maybe it was from actually standing in front of the skyline for the first time in my life.
At the time, I hardly knew much about photography. I believe I was using an 8MP Canon Rebel XT, likely with one of the kit lenses – and, not to knock the equipment – but I certainly wasn’t using then what I’m using today. My tripod was likely flimsy and cheap, and despite having Photoshop, my post-production skills were meager at best. But I had passion, and energy, and excitement.
So I took that image of the skyline. Even now, I’m looking at it here in my archives, dated: November 19, 2006. I went home and brought it into Photoshop. Then, with hardly any understanding about how the program worked, I navigated my way to the clone stamp tool and carefully began to erase the electrical wires that were in the foreground. Adding a little saturation and contrast, I shared the image with family and friends through email and Facebook. I printed copies to hang on my wall, and even set it as the background on my computer.
I felt so accomplished to have taken this image of Dallas that I wanted to share it with the world.
At the time, I was graduating high school, and college was just a summer away. I became busy with my education, my job – working in the camera department at Best Buy, relationships, and having fun with my friends. I didn’t revisit the skyline for another seven years.
In college, I found I was becoming more and more interested in photography. What was once a hobby was becoming a ‘serious hobby’, and I was joining the National Press Photographer’s Association, the Photography Club, and even switched my major to Photojournalism. I went on to take advantage of great opportunities, interning with elite photographers at the White House, National Geographic, later returning to Texas as a photographer at the Dallas Observer, D Magazine and The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
One day, I was browsing my Flickr account, when I noticed another breathtaking photograph of the skyline. It turns out, it was taken by the same photographer who inspired me initially. By now, he had a huge following, with a vast portfolio of stunning images from the Dallas skyline. I couldn’t believe how beautiful Dallas could look, and I thought it would be just amazing if I could learn to take images like him.
March 1st, 2012: I couldn’t sleep. I’d been awake literally all night long. And, I thought, man.. what a great opportunity this would be to go shoot some early morning photos the cityscape. So, I messaged a friend on Facebook who joined me, and we went down to Dallas together, not knowing what we’d find.
We happened upon this small little pond at Trammell Crow Park, just as the sun was breaking over the horizon. At first, I thought it was going to be a bad picture and a bunch of time wasted. If you’re a Dallas native, you know that Trammell Crow Park is located on the Northwest side of Dallas… opposite sunrise.
I thought, “I’m here. I’m going to make a picture.” And shot a few frames with my friend, called it a morning, and made the 40 minute commute back home.
After some editing in post production, I was hesitant to share it online, but I went for it anyway. Several days later, it had garnished hundreds of likes on my personal Facebook page – more likes, in-fact, than any other image I’ve ever shared. I can say definitively that this image initiated my journey to photograph Dallas:
What an amazing time I’ve had photographing the city. Every year, there are new locations to visit, and different weather patterns to shoot. The thrill of photographing Dallas, and understanding the raw creative potential of an unprocessed image, keeps me going back.
I’ve been stuck in mud knee deep, caught in rain, ice, and snow. I’ve photographed Dallas in 100+ degrees, and when it’s been colder than cold. I’ve been held up at gun point, stopped by the police more times than I can count, and spent more time, money, and energy to photograph this city than on any other project I’ve ever worked on.
But it has been worth it. All of it. All of the experiences, and knowledge, and images I’ve made, shared and published. I am grateful to have met the photographer who, even now, continues to inspire me. Justin Terveen.
I plan to continue this project of photographing Dallas, and I hope that I can continue to share my passion with everyone else who calls this small part of the globe home.