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Matinee: 'State Fair of Texas Photographer Kevin Brown' Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

21 September 2019

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 220th in our series of Saturday matinees today: State Fair of Texas Photographer Kevin Brown.

This year will mark the 17th that Kevin Brown has photographed the Texas State Fair. But it will be a little different this time. From Sept. 27 through Oct. 20, the Carpenter Livestock Center will exhibit a selection of Brown's images of the fair from over the years.

In this 7:18 video Brown talks about both his career and the fair.

He tells you before you can ask that when people ask him what his favorite photo from the fair is, he can't pick just one. But a few stick out, he admits. And those few, it turns out, are what's in the exhibit. And, fortunately for the rest of us, in the video.

He estimates he shoots between 1,000 and 2,500 images a day when he visits the fair.

Photography was his destiny, he says. His father worked for a TV station when he was five. When he was 10, his father built a darkroom at this house. By the time he was 15, he was on the staff of a small town newspaper.

He went to work with his uncle in 1995. And because the Texas State Fair was a client, he shot video for them.

Then in 2002 he suggested they hire him to shoot stills of the fair. The idea intrigued them, he says, but they had a still photographer already. They promised to keep him in mind. You may have heard that one before.

As fate would have it, that still photographer retired the next year and the fair, having kept Brown in mind after all, invited him to submit a proposal.

[Dramatic pause]

You remember 2002, don't you? There was the 11.1-megapixel Canon EOS-1Ds, the 14-Mp Kodak DCS Pro 14n, the 6.3-Mp Nikon D100 and a shelf full of digicams that couldn't hold a foot-candle to a smartphone today.

Let's just say that digital photography had not quite proven itself yet.

But here was Brown with a proposal to shoot the fair using digital cameras instead of film. His predecessor had shot slides so they were intrigued by the savings. And Brown pulled it off.

As he tells the story, we see the images he created. And they are simply delightful.

He estimates he shoots between 1,000 and 2,500 images a day when he visits the fair. The higher numbers occur when he covers a University of Texas football game. Not to mention the World Championship Corndog Eating Contest.

So it wasn't easy picking a few images to exhibit. But he has no trouble telling us about his favorites as we get to look them over in detail.

Why has he gone back year after year to shoot the fair?

The people, he says, are what makes it so exciting to shoot the fair. And these pictures prove it.

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