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Everything's Bigger in Texas

Texas beyond the stereotypes.
Except for the really charming ones.

Confession: I won the “Everything’s Bigger in Texas” award in my freshman dorm (for being both tall and Texan). Having spent my first 18 years near Dallas, I know that most people don’t wear cowboy hats or ride horses. In fact, Dallasites are into clothing like San Franciscans are into food. The lone star cities are incredibly diverse and just as likely to make the news for compassion towards homosexuals as they are for hate crimes. And while the barbeque and tex-mex are stellar, there are plenty of vegan cafes in Texas. What I’m getting at is that I understand the difference between the stereotypes and the reality.

Despite that, I couldn’t resist the enduring charm of cowboy culture while putting together this showcase. I’ve watched too many westerns and too much Friday Night Lights to not sprinkle in ten gallon hats, pickup trucks, a rodeo, a football stadium, etc. It’s not all the state is about, but it’s where it came from — and what makes it Texas.

Published: 11/17/10

Intro: Laura Brunow Miner

Guest Design: Tim Van Damme

Annual Tradition

Annual Tradition

I look forward to bluebonnet season every year, when my whole extended family meets at my grandma’s farm near Moulton, Texas. We pile into the back of pick-up trucks and head for sprawling fields to pick flowers together. It probably sounds really Texan to you, but this tradition is as normal as Thanksgiving dinner for me.

Photographer: Aimee Wenske

I’m a photographer living in Austin, Texas. I shoot photographs to capture memories I can’t hold in my mind. I want to travel everywhere and live everywhere.

Around the Bend

Around the Bend

I saw plenty of breathtaking scenery the summer a friend and I road-tripped across the country, visiting 26 national parks and just about every state. But this one looked so different from my home in New Hampshire. As we closed in on Big Bend National Park, dry and desolate wide-open country made way for mountains that seemed to appear out of nowhere. A tough hike yielded this blue-sky view of Texas’ unique terrain.

Photographer: Ashley Herrin

Ashley Herrin is a graphic designer and photographer living in Boston. Everyday she looks forward to traveling on that open road once again.

Gulf of Mexico

Gulf of Mexico

While you won’t mistake the Texas coastline for the Caribbean, the beaches are certainly nice enough for the occasional weekend getaway. What’s more, the South Padre Island area boasts the largest shrimp fleet and hauls in the US — one more thing for Texans to rub in the face of anyone else with state pride.

Photographer: Christian Ross

Writer and solver of web issues by day; purveyor of awesome by trade.

The Birds

The Birds

Seagulls are everywhere in Galveston. On the ferry, tourists throw entire loaves of bread to the gulls one slice at a time. My aunt and I couldn’t help ourselves, and joined in.

Photographer: Angeleena Zacho

I live on a desert ranch in California. I like to write and take pictures.

Recovery Efforts

Recovery Efforts

After Hurricane Ike hit the Texas coast, I scoured the Internet for footage of my mother’s beach house on the Bolivar Peninsula (near Galveston), and found satellite imagery of the slab where her house had stood. It was the only way to confirm that the house was gone, as the roads were washed out and no one was allowed to drive down the peninsula. Months later when we finally made it down there, we marvelled at the progress that had been made in the short time since the storm. The fact that we could stand on a road of sorts was amazing on its own.

Photographer: Walker Pickering

I’m a photographer and faculty member at The Art Institute of Austin.

Rest Stop

Rest Stop

During a cross-country drive this past winter, my friends and I arrived in Texas just after a freak blizzard blanketed Amarillo. We raced each other through the snow like kids to get a close-up look at the upended cars of the famous Cadillac Ranch before darkness set in.

Photographer: Julie Mehta

I’m a writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area who loves to travel and doesn’t think there’s any such thing as “too many pictures.”

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan

Gee, Mr. President, what a big head you have! Driving home from SXSW Festival in Austin, I spotted several of these semi trailers hauling huge presidential heads and shoulders. I followed this one off the exit and chased it on foot to get this shot.

Photographer: Jodi Hersh

Founder of Orange Star Design (Decatur, Georgia), Jodi has over 20 years of experience as a designer and is an avid photographer and mixed-media artist.

Familiar Ring

Familiar Ring

While travelling across the US this past summer, my family experienced the epitome of “big” when visiting my mother’s alma mater, Texas A&M. In front of the Former Student’s Building stands a gigantic rendition of the famous Aggie Ring — a testament to the big culture, ritual, and community that is found at A&M.

Photographer: Michael Headrick

I love to design and draw, I want to go to school for design then work at exploring life and maybe continue my education. I currently live in China and will graduate there in 2011. I have now started taking pictures of nature, family, individuals, still life, and pop culture; I don’t know where my photography will lead me, but I am hoping it will become a lifelong hobby if not an occupation.

Gruene Hall

Gruene Hall

Located in historical Gruene, Texas and built in the 1870’s, Gruene Hall bills itself as “the oldest continually run dance hall in Texas.” Gruene Hall has become a Texas icon, hosting thousands of musicians over the years, such as Willie Nelson, George Strait, Chris Isaak, Lyle Lovett, Jerry Jeff Walker, Townes Van Zandt, Robert Earl Keen, The Dixie Chicks, Merle Haggard, Little Richard, Dennis Quaid, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, just to name a few. If you’re ever in Central Texas, do yourself a favor. Take a raft down the Gruene River during the day and spend the evening dancin’ and drinkin’ at Gruene Hall. This is Texas.

Photographer: John Boyd

I am an amateur photographer from Houston, Texas living in Paris, France.

Roadhouse Relics

Roadhouse Relics

The craftmanship of this sign, made by local company Roadhouse Relics, speaks to the creative culture in Austin. Austin is a unique city, and you’ll find lots of cool spaces being utilized by artists and entrepeneurs. They can be a little rough around the edges, but that’s what Austin’s all about. I love the sign in this photo because as you probably know, Austin is the live music capital of the world. That’s just one more reason why I moved here from New York City eight years ago and don’t want to leave.

Photographer: Nicole Truly

I work in advertising as a production artist and photographer. I was born a Texan, and moved away when I was two years old. I found my way back eight years ago. It’s good to be home.

Dear @Pictory:

West of Austin: Blanco Bowling Club. Antiquated Germanic bowling, pins hand set by town kids for tips, perfect lemon meringue pie.

No Man is an Island

No Man is an Island

John Wells gets his electricity from the sun and his water from the sky. He’s built his own swamp cooler to deal with the south Texas heat and has a green way of dealing with the biological necessities. He’s taken himself completely off the grid but it is still connected to the world by a blog and a Facebook account. His house might be small, but his way of life has the potential to make a big impact.

Photographer: Larry Hayden

Larry D. Hayden is originally from Kentucky, currently residing in Southern California with his wife, daughter, and two dogs. He favors film and prefers shooting black and white. Some people bring home stray dogs, he brings home funky film cameras.

Closed 24 Hours

Closed 24 Hours

I expected to be amused by the ironic “Prada Marfa” art installation in west Texas, but instead found myself awash in an odd, lonely feeling.

Photographer: Amy Seidenwurm

Amy Seidenwurm is a beekeeper, writer, and fantasy basketball champion.

Marfa Train

Marfa Train

I’m a person of extremes: I love the big city but also love the wide open country. I currently live in downtown Houston but would love to live in a remote artist’s community like Marfa. The wide open spaces, long stretches of empty pavement, and the big blue skies are what make me love west Texas.

Photographer: Cody Austin

Cody lives in Houston and takes his camera with him everywhere. He has been published in a few magazines such as JPG Magazine, Light Leaks Magazine, and Executive Travel.

Thunderbird Inn

Thunderbird Inn

Stars aren’t something you can see in the New York City sky, ever. So when I come back to Texas, I soak up the big, bright, almost neon lights above.

Photographer: Jamie Beck

I am a photographer born and raised in Texas and now live in New York City with a terrible homesickness for ‘real’ tex-mex. I shoot editorial content professionally but personally I spend a lot of time traveling, taking pictures with film, and developing at home.

Given Over to Lesser Men

Given Over to Lesser Men

“There’s a vastness here and I believe that the people who are born here breathe that vastness into their soul. They dream big dreams and think big thoughts, because there is nothing to hem them in.” Sitting on top of Enchanted Rock at sunrise, these words by Conrad Hilton (about the state my family has called home for nine generations) ring incredibly true. They give a voice to the pride I have long had difficulty putting into words.

Photographer: Trey Hill

Trey Hill is a commercial photographer and a story teller living in Dallas.

Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams

I love Texas for its empty spaces and big skies. This wheat field outside Dallas was one of my favorite places to escape the suburbs as a teenager. But this patch of prairie is now a shopping center. Next to a sewage line. Next to a movie theater. The mantra of “big” in Texas is both its curse and blessing. With so much open space, the ability to simply continue building further and further out is changing the state — and its once rugged and crudely beautiful landscape.

Photographer: Andrew Hefter

I’m Andrew Hefter, a twenty-year-old photographer attending Savannah College of Art and Design. I was born in Austin, Texas, grew up in Portland, Oregon, and went to high school in the Dallas area. I’ve been doing the photo bit for five years, and intend on doing it for the next five hundred.



Even though the pond is man-made, I found true calm and peace in this scene in my sister’s subdivision in Houston.

Photographer: Consuelo Mendez

I am a visual artist from Venezuela who retired from university teaching a year ago, I’m now enjoying total creative freedom.

Larger Life

Larger Life

Texas is so friendly that even our pond-life will greet you with a smile. Every time I go out I find some kind of interesting animal willing to pose for me, and on this day, it was this snake at Cedar Hill State Park. Guest appearances were also made by a tarantula and the largest tadpole I’ve ever seen.

Photographer: Lisa Holmgreen

I live in north Texas and spend my time shooting photos.

My First Rodeo

My First Rodeo

My Texas fantasy consisted of gun shooting, backcountry walks, campfires, kicking up dust and chewing on grass — like cowboys do in cigarette ads. But when I arrived in Houston for a wedding, my vision of the wild west quickly faded to that of shopping centers, glass buildings, Starbucks coffee, and an occasional cowboy hat in the crowd. On the last day, I finally found a slice of cowboy culture at the rodeo. The best moment for me was watching these young kids race on sheep. These five to ten-year-olds held on to the sheep for life, their eyes bulging from fear or completely closed. It was absolutely fantastic to watch, and the accidents often made me skip a heartbeat.

Photographer: Sylvester Zawadzki

Sylvester Zawadzki grew up on a farm in Poland and is now a photographer residing in NYC. He specializes in wedding/event photography and devotes his free time to travels, personal projects, and his girlfriend.

Dear @Pictory:

I went to prison rodeo with my grandfather when I was like, 9, and it was so bloody and brutal that my retinas melted. LOL.

Cowboys Stadium

Cowboys Stadium

I just looked up “Bigger in Texas” in the dictionary and there was a photo of the new massive Dallas Cowboys Stadium. Not really, but there should be. It’s huge. Not only is it the largest dome ever constructed for a sports stadium, it’s also the most expensive sports venue ever built. And inside it holds the biggest high definition video screen in the world. They built a retractable hole in the roof so that “God could still watch his favorite team.” Now he can watch them in HD.

Photographer: Wade Griffith

I’m a professional photographer residing in Dallas, Texas. I currently shoot a wide variety of subjects including architecture, product, and portrait photography. I love taking pictures, writing, and design.

Big and Bigger

Big and Bigger

My sister Kat and I found this thought-provoking sign at the H&H Car Wash in El Paso, Texas. We wondered what percentage of vehicles cleaned are “larger vehicles” (a step up from pick-ups) as we ordered huevos rancheros at the tiny adjoining diner.

Photographer: Kristen Taylor

I drink raw milk and live in Brooklyn.

Muleshoe Pride

Muleshoe Pride

I grew up in Texas and have always been fascinated by the names of towns there. It seemed to me that if you could think of it, there would be a place in Texas by the same name. Names like: Needville, Cut & Shoot, Earth, Coke, Meansville, Italy, Loving, Tool, Gun Barrel, Fate, The Ditch, Bangs, Turkey, Mobeetie, Frog and Frog Not, Bonus, Tiki Island, Goodnight, Time, Pancake, and Golly. Some towns like Swastika, Welfare, and Devil’s River are now ghost towns. Perhaps over time there was not much to take pride in, nothing to erect a statue for.

Photographer: Camile O'Briant

I have photographed everything from the everyday mundane to movie stills. I’ve done head shots for numerous actors and I’ve documented life in Los Angeles and New York. My style is whatever I want it to be at any given moment and my camera is the one that’s with me whether it’s an iphone, digital SLR, or one of the many vintage cameras I refuse to get rid of.

A Cross Against Femicide

A Cross Against Femicide

This mural a few blocks from the border in El Paso reads: “Dedicated to all the women and children victims of violence, abuse, and exploitation.” It commemorates the hundreds of women and girls murdered just across the border in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Since 1993, more than 800 brutal murders of Mexican women have occurred and still go unsolved by authorities. Meanwhile on the Texas side of the river, El Paso continues to be one of the safest cities of its size in the United States.

Photographer: Steev Hise

Steev is a filmmaker now based in Tucson, Arizona.

New Air

New Air

From the roof of my El Paso hotel, I could see Mexico. I could even walk right into it. Everything about the city was a new experience — I wasn’t used to the humidity, the pace of the city, or even the cost of living. It was nice to just breathe and look at the surroundings on the roof of that hotel. One of these days, I will return.

Photographer: Kristina Anderson

I’m originally from New Jersey, and I currently work for a production house in New York City. My interests include writing, photography, gaming, and learning more about the designer toy/street culture scene.

Dear @Pictory:

Well, apart from the heat that almost killed me during the summer, the people are really friendly.

Getting the Boot

Getting the Boot

My grandfather worked in this very building, and my grandparents still live not 100 yards from where it still stands. Founded in 1925 by Miss Enid, every pair of Nocona Boots was hand made here until the factory closed in 1999, taking the jobs of many of the townspeople with it. Sadly, Nocona boots are not made in Nocona, Texas anymore. Though the once famous factory is now closed, the history and pride of this small Texas town is still very much alive. And if you mosey on up there, you can still find a handful of the skilled bootmakers in town, and I reckon they’d love to tell you their side of the story.

Photographer: Tyler Sharp

Tyler Sharp is a photographer, writer, and videographer, and is proud to be a Texan.

Austin in Flux

Austin in Flux

Every year, for two weeks, the population in the city of Austin expands to some mathematically outrageous number that completely dwarfs the rest of the year. That single annual spike alters the city in ways that most other places can only dream of. Every time you go back, it’s impossible not to witness the profound effects that SXSW Festival (film, interactive, and music) has on both the architecture and the people.

Photographer: Anton Peck

Anton is a designer and illustrator living in the state of Illinois.

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