Sunrise while waiting for the ranchers, Ashley, and Kari to arrive  Ranchers in the middle of herding cattle


Day 2 in Marfa completed, except today involved research mixed with a bit of pleasure. The family over at the Fletcher ranch off route 2810 had invited us over to help herd cattle they were selling off. Ashley, Kari, and I were the few brave (crazy) souls who took them up on their offer. We got up early and arrived at the ranch ~6am. The family’s hospitality was incredible, offering us some coffee and a home cooked breakfast burrito…delicious. Ashley and Kari rode out with the ranchers to herd the cattle, while I stayed on foot and shot video throughout the morning. We spent a total of about 4-5 hours with them, much longer than we had expected. It  was dusty and tiring, while breathtaking and awesome as well! One of those experiences y’all should put on your to do list. I’m a third of the way through editing the footage I shot. It’ll take a few days to complete, but as a teaser, here are a few raw screengrabs (ungraded and uncorrected).


Following the ranchers in the early morning Herding cattle in a cloud of dust
Separating the cows from the calves that will soon be sold off Cooling off after a long, hot morning.


After meeting back up with the workshop group, we spent the afternoon following through with the last remaining story leads. We met with a number of interesting people, but Merri, Laura, and I quickly converged on a very specific set of characters from the Padres bar and the shuffle board competition there. We worked on developing our idea for a while, took a much needed break so I could wash up from the dusty morning, before heading back out for dinner. Before calling it a night, we went through a long discussion about the story ideas we were all considering. Based on how people’s interests were lining up, we made the decision to only form 2 teams of three, which means we will only be making 2 docs for next Friday.


Meeting with Allen at his Ironheart gym. Allen is legally blind, has had numerous heart surgeries, and runs the local fitness center.  Air drying the gear from this morning after cleaning all the dust off things.



To continue sharing a little about the workshop attendees, here’s another bio…

Kari Branch – I currently live in Austin, Texas and consider it my permanent home. I graduated from the University of Texas with a Bachelors of Journalism in Photojournalism. My emphasis has always been on telling the stories of those without a voice. I worked for five years in the El Paso, TX – Chihuahua, Mexico area, shooting for local and national newspapers, the Associated Press, and several news magazines. Border issues are complicated, effect a large population of impoverished people, and were compounded when NAFTA was adopted. Everywhere you looked there was a story to tell. After much debate, I decided to return to central Texas and work as a staff photographer in Victoria.

I am excited to return to Marfa. I covered a champion bull auction there and was also based there on a wind-farm story in the mountains. The Marfa people are straight-forward, gravel-tough, and kind-hearted. It has always been a goal of mine to do documentary film. In 1996 I traveled with a staff writer from the Dallas Morning News to Chihuahua City, Mexico, to catch a train into Copper Canyon. The area had been in a drought for over a decade and the indigenous Tarahumara Indians were suffering from malnutrition and having to assimilate into the surrounding towns to survive. I would love to travel back to the area, hopefully find the grown children I photographed at the local clinic, and tell their stories.

I am also Vice-President of a young non-profit organization, The Global Human Progress Foundation, based here in Austin and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa. We work in areas that are not served by any other NGOs due to guerrilla warfare and sexual brutality toward women and girls. We can accomplish this because two of our directors are from the DRC, one of whom still lives in South Kivu and is our main source of help and information. We are currently supporting two schools in areas not served by the government. The children in these areas usually have only two choices, victim or soldier. We are offering them the chance to be students. At some point, I would like to visit the DRC and tell their stories, but it is not safe for me to travel there at this time. I noticed you also have workshops for NGOs and I may find myself in one of those when our funding is a little more stable. I currently freelance as a commercial photographer, usually shooting images to be used in websites.