Alternate title: Hello Texas - State of the Union There have been a few times during my photo "career" (let's be real - until I make any money - it's still a hobby) that I've felt stuck. And maybe stuck isn't the right word for it. It's a form of depression that I'm the only one that cares. Being behind the camera can be lonely. And sometimes (maybe most of the time), that's o.k. I mean, I enjoy the total control of what I'm doing and take great pride in being coach-able - but very self taught. Doing it "my" way has always been my greatest joy, even if it is a tiny corner of my life. And, the two or three times I've been down to the point of just changing the way I do things or quitting all together - some kind of angel comes down and sends me people. This is the story of how I got here and why I keep plugging forward.
May 5, 2016, was one of those nights. I was starting year four with my camera. I don't think it was burnout. Just the grind that started to seep in. It was the night of the Cory Morrow concert at Schoepfs BBQ in Belton. Some unknown kid named Parker McCollum opened I believe. And there was a new photographer that was floating around. I think I had seen him a week or two before - but he and his wife skirted around the back and didn't bother me. So, this night, I went back and told him that it was o.k. to come up front with me. It took me awhile to understand the ettiquette of shooting photos in front of a crowd when you're 6'4" and a "big guy". The big cowboy came up to the front and looked like he had a good time. He thanked me for pushing him a bit. His wife was really sweet. I don't remember her having a camera back then. But after the show was over, my good friend Michael Carubelli and his crew was there. And they were the after-show. If you know Michael and are friends with him, you probably think you are his best friend. And you probably wouldn't be wrong. It's easy to be friends with Carubelli. Its always a party of some kind when he's around. And my new photographer friend and his wife were on his fishing line and loving their new surroundings and friends. Through that, I ended up leaving around midnight - and I usually leave when the show is over about 10. The big cowboy, his wife, and I talked for a couple of hours. Promises were made to keep in touch. Little did I know...... That was the night I met Tim and Melissa Murphy. And it just made things fun. We shared a common interest in photography and Texas music. They had stories of how it was the music that got them from Georgia to Texas. And they just weren't assholes. And I wanted to hang out with them as much as I could. And they generally wanted to hang out with me. And Tim, like me, is a dreamer. What is possible should be do-able. And together, we're like Superheroes without a villain. We did, and continue to explore what we could do together. We trust each other and we share some basic core values that make that possible. That doesn't mean we have the same values though. We have a lot of opposing thoughts - and we're both pretty hard headed. But, at the end of the day, we've done a pretty good job of mending disagreements quickly and hardly ever with animus. So, we've tried to figure out how to build and manage something. And, over the last year and a half - that's been something we've called Hello Texas. We get asked all the time - "What is Hello Texas?" And it's hard to answer in a sentence. Basically - it's Tim and I goofing off. And not even goofing off - because that's what we do when we're being serious. Hello Texas is our friendship in media form. And we have tried a bunch of things I would consider BIG ideas - with just a little bit of knowledge how to pull it off. Some of our ideas are right in our wheelhouse. When Tim, Melissa, and I get together to shoot a concert - it's a beautiful thing with beautiful results. Add my 15 (almost 16) year old daughter in the mix and things get crazy. But we have bigger plans than that. And we just keep looking for how our passion and talents could be best used. We've done video vlogs in Downtown Belton with plans to do a "travel channel." It would be fun, but we both have lives away from Hello Texas and it's hard enough these days to talk on the phone much less take a weekend off to take goofy pictures at The Snake Farm. Maybe one day. But not today. We tried to do a live talk show on July 3rd of this year. And it would have been GREAT - except for the signal wouldn't work. And with the grand ideas that we had, there was no backup plan. We made it work and my dear friends Lilly Milford and Michael Carubelli made it wonderful. Jeff Potvin at Scores continues to be a great friend and we'll be back to try it again sooner than later. With a lot of lessons learned. We did a Hello Texas Live video vlog for awhile and we will probably go back to the live feed on occassion. But, Tim's life has changed along with his schedule and the software that facilitated the live feed was a trial version. When it came time to pay, because of our big plans, it would have cost $1500. Not really in the budget for anyone for a software program. Again - maybe one day. But not today. So - that brings us to Hello Texas 2020. Some hard decisions had to be made. Some personal commitments had to be laid out. And the lessons of the past have helped guide those decisions. Time is a premium in our lives and planning is essential. Depending on "live" is difficult because of changing schedules and honestly - the grind. So - we have formulated a plan. And is has been and will be changing by the day. But I (and I think we) have a schedule for 2020 and Hello Texas that I hope will keep everyone engaged from January to December. Some of our dreams may fall away over the year, but the financial and planning commitment has already been done. And it is pretty exciting. 1. Podcast - One of our difficulties was broadcasting live with limited knowledge (and equipment) to fix it on the fly. Plans to have guest, audio issues - all failures due to our lack of knowledge on how to set things up. And not having the time (or the planning skills) to get ahead of the issues made live feeds a little difficult. The people that showed up were super supportive. But - promotion and getting new viewers in was an issue - because it was about Tim and I. And while that's great for our friends and family - nobody outside of that group cares much. And, while its fun - we think we can do better. So - we're going to scale back the production schedule and edit us some audio. A few weeks ago, I had the INCREDIBLE honor of being a guest on the Drinking Texas Podcast. And I watched how they set up. They were mobile. Their equipment was impressive. They were professional. They had something to talk about. And they wanted me to talk. It was that experience that lit the fire that this is possible. So - expect some Podcast in 2020. Bare bones equipment is on the way. With plans on how to expand by the summer. But - interviewing some of my friends. A focus on the photography and the music is the goal. And if it's just me talking into a mic - so be it. If Tim and I can do it together - great. And if I can talk to a couple of musicians and include that - then I think it's something I would want to listen to if someone else did it. The dreams of in studio guest and mobile podcast at the events is possible - but we'll take it week to week. Or month to month. But - there will be podcast in some way shape or form. 2. Daily post - This is the heart and soul of what we are going to be doing in 2020. Each day, there will be a post of some photos and maybe a bio (and an occasional video) that taps in to the 8 years of photos and videos that Tim and I have amassed at all the shows. Spotlighting musicians, influencers, and whatever else we can come up with. The background idea of what Hello Texas has always been to promote all music - with an intent to show that the local music is just as good as anything else you listen to. The reason I started shooting to begin with is that I wanted my friends to SEE what I was HEARING. It's too good to be kept to myself. And that's as true for Cody Johnson as it is for Lilly and the Implements. Everybody needs to know. 3. Videos - Last year - I did some videos called "The Five". And I enjoyed it. The problem is - with the standards I have - it was extremely time consuming. But - I'm bringing it back. Maybe in written form some weeks - but video is on the way. We'll just scale back the schedule to two a month. And in the off week? I have some ideas for Tim. If you pay attention - he does a thing that my wife and I call "Last Lap" where he talks about inspirational issues. And I'm hoping he does a form of that. So - weekly videos. 4. Spotify Playlist - I'm not sure how many people really latched on to this - but it's fun to do and it's something I do for myself anyway. The biggest change is this home base for everything. I've bascially shut down the Steven Peters Photography website and replaced it with this. And that's fine. My facebook page is where 99.99% of my traffic comes from anyway. And I am all in on Hello Texas. In whatever form it takes. And we'll figure out the rest from there. We intend on doing as much charity work as we possibly can. We still have big plans to shoot as many festivals as we can. And - most importantly - the focus is just to plug forward and accept that everything won't always be perfect - but that doesn't mean we have to stop doing the whole thing. So - cheers to 2020 and the possibilities of creating something great! As long as its fun. Thanks friends,