Archive for May, 2011

A Weekend with the Walker Family

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

I was so excited to spend an entire weekend photographing several generations of the Walker Family at La Gloria Ranch. The history of this land is a window into the history of south Texas. The land now serves as a retreat for its owners, as a working cattle ranch, and as a destination for hunters.

The Walker family was kind enough to invite my entire family to come along. We when arrived, it felt like we had traveled all the way to Mexico. We enjoyed the hospitality of this family. They opened their home, cooked for us, cleaned for us, saddled horses for us, took us swimming, etc. They invited us to share in the non-stop whirlwind of activity and fun.

I loved this type of shoot. It allowed me to get to know this family more deeply and to capture their unique family culture. Yes, we did take some more portrait-oriented photos. But a big chunk of the time, I got to tell the important, everyday stories of this family’s life. I hope that as these children grow up, they will be able to use my work to tell their kids and grandkids about their childhood and their family’s history.

Please meet the grandparents, the 5 Walker kids, and their one cousin.

The first activity was horse back riding. Time to saddle the horses.

Stephen, the grandfather, grew up on this ranch. One night, after the kids were in bed, we sat by the pool under the stars. He sat in the hot tub and smoked a cigar. He told us stories. I enjoyed listening about the history of the ranch, about how the ranch has changed, and about his childhood. I was surprised to learn that he didn’t have electricity in his home on this property until he was a teenager.

Anna Clare may be one of the youngest kids, but she can definitely hold her own.

Celeste watched some of the action from the propane tank when she wasn’t riding.

One of my favorites.

They use this tool to brush the horses.

Two cousins talked and played a modified version of paper, rock, scissors on the tank:

If your horse has uneven hooves, it can cripple him. After riding, it was time for a horse manicure and pedicure. (Yes, I’m lying down on the pavement in the hot sun like a fried egg in a skillet, but it was worth it.)

If you look closely, you can see the clippings from the hooves flying through the air:

We took our dusty boots off, ate lunch, and spent some time in the house during the heat of the day.

After that, we painted some on the front porch:

Then, I became acquainted with a machine like no other. . . El Terible. This thing is a diesel powered utility vehicle on steroids. The Walkers talk about it almost as if it were another person. It would be at home on an African Safari. It was designed to get hunters to their places under every condition. The tires are filled with silicone rather than air so that they can drive over the scrub brush that covers the terrain. It goes 0 to 60 in about 2 hours. What it loses in gas mileage, it makes up for in raw power.

We rode El Terible out to feed some horses kept in a distant pasture.

Julia Grace was a bit bold when she fed the carrot loving, personable horse named Festus.

Another favorite. . .

Here’s Tobin in Terible’s rear view mirror.

Meet Jezebel. Just like El Terible breaks the mold for ranch vehicles, Jezebel breaks the mold for ranch dogs. She is a diva. While one ranch dog ran behind El Terible, Jezebel got someone to lift her up on the vehicle so she could ride in style without exerting herself. Here she is cooling off on the concrete floor of the house:

As I took this series of photos, I really thought she was deliberately tilting her head so that the coastal breeze would blow her ears just the right way for the photo. That coastal breeze is one of the few things that takes the edge off of the sometimes punishing heat.

Meal times:
Chance is enjoying some birthday cake. Happy Birthday, Julia Grace!

For dinner, the adults enjoyed a sampler of grilled ranch meats, a green salad, a mango salad, and a passionate discussion about the many merits of diesel engines.

Gina made her amazing yeasted waffles from Cooks Illustrated for breakfast. Bacon shows up for breakfast almost every morning here. And there’s a crock pot full of Mexican style black beans 24 hours a day–no kidding.

I think this photo says a lot about Stephen. He rarely sits down. He is alway working while the sun is up. He is the ultimate ranch host. He will fry up the bacon, scramble the eggs with chorizo, and then wash the dishes afterward. This type of work ethic is part of what defines him. (Oh, I really like those light fixtures too.)

Here’s a 3 generation shot of the girls and boys:

I love this photo of Tobin and Julia Grace. I can relate to this image of a dad and his oldest daughter. It made me fast forward a bit and think about Emmie and Greg’s relationship.

With 5 children, it seems like you would need an abundance of humor and grace in a marriage.

Here’s a favorite portrait of each kid. It was a privilege to begin to get to know each of the Walker children as individuals. They are all so different and special. If they were my kids, I’d print them on canvas and hang them vertically in this order:

Julia Grace, thank you for being responsible caring for other people.

Anna Clare, I’m always willing to listen to any Disney show tunes that you want to sing. I love your spunk.

Chance, you are a good friend to others.

Celeste, you are a wonderfully complex person. Thank you for letting me catch just a teeny tiny glimpse of what is going on in your head and heart.

And Trinity, thank you for reminding me of the beauty of being girly.

Just a few details left to show–a saddle blanket and the the shadow of a hammock:

Thank you, Walker family, for inviting me to photograph your family and tell your story.

Dignowity Hill Pushcart Derby

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Our friends, Bekah and Lewis, invited us to their neighborhood, Dignowity Hill, to watch The 7th Annual Pushcart Derby this spring. It’s hard to describe the event well. It is a set of races that combine art and athletics with a semi cult-like following. The spectators included neighbors, families, luchador wannabes, barefoot backpackers, biking enthusiasts, runners, and this mom with her three kids.

Before the event, each team of participants builds a push cart. Two people run behind the cart and push. A third team member steers the cart up and around a grass covered hill. You can earn points for a creative cart. After a series of heats, the fastest team wins. It may be low tech, but it is super fun to watch. Enjoy!

No, you’re not seeing double. Note how the cart resembles one of its creators.

Welcome to San Antonio, folks. . .

Some of my favorite people all in one place
Travis, next year is your year to enter. We would all love to cheer you on.

You can see my crew looking on in the bottom left side of the frame.



Thank you, Bekah and Lewis, for inviting us to spend the afternoon with you. Thank you, Dignowity Hill, for creating such a cool event for all of SA to enjoy.

Leslie and the Light Swirl

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Meet Leslie. She graduated from Trinity University here in San Antonio last week and is headed to graduate school. Leslie has been a very special part of our family for 2 1/2 years as she has babysat for our family on a regular basis. Chances are if I have taken your photo, Leslie has had some role in it. She has watched my kids while I’ve shot weddings, edited photos, returned emails, taken photography classes, and met with clients. She has been an important part of Rachel Chaney Photography.

More than that, though, she has been an important part of the Chaney family. She has played with us, eaten with us, and struggled alongside us. She has really gotten to know our family with all of its weaknesses and strengths. And we have been able to get to know her. In a way, we have really lived together. I am thankful for her hard work. I am thankful for how I got a little glimpse into how she changed during her time in college. And I am looking forward to seeing how the story of her life unfolds.

How do you say thank you and goodbye? For me, I say it (in part) with photos. Leslie and I covered a record breaking 7 locations. It was fun to go into a shoot without a firm plan and just search for color, light, and ideas. So Leslie, these photos are for you. I hope you can tell how I appreciate you as you look at them. And I hope that you will think of the morning that we got to spend together taking them.

This first one is my favorite. It’s kind of model-y. It took a few moments to get the light just right. I had been eying this tunnel and thinking about it for over a year. It was worth the wait. I love how the light swirls around Leslie and frames her.

Retro diner tile + pop of blue + amazing red hair = 🙂

The person heading to work after parking their car in the parking lot probably thought I was crazy. But she didn’t see what I saw–the beautiful morning light and the pretty colored blue wall.

In downtown SA, I spotted a large sidewalk-long advertisement for a photography exhibit featuring old photos of San Antonio. This isn’t a Photoshopped photo with selective color. (I have to admit, I don’t like those.) See the horse drawn carriages in the photo of the building? This is my photo of Leslie and an old photo. I kind of like the way it turned out.

Did we find a building that perfectly matched the colors she was wearing? Yes, we did! Thank you, SA, for all of your colorful buildings.

This photo is one of my favorites because it captures some of how I see Leslie.

As many of you know, green is my favorite color. I liked the bit of green in this shot:

Leslie was attending a wedding that I was photographing. My friend, West, was kind enough to take a picture of the two of us. Thank you for the sweet light, West.

I love seeing the playful side of you, Leslie. Thank you so much for letting me get to know you.