Day 6 of the Hwy 80 project
I found Jesus in Texas. Twice!
While I passed through DFW, I was told of some oil fields that lay ahead for me. I even got a contact. This had me all excited. Visions danced in my head of Sebastiao Salgado’s Workers series with workers covered in oil. I called my contact and he said to talk to another person. I left 3 VM and never heard back. Once I started seeing oil rigs I just pulled up and asked them. One after another said no. I stopped by no less than 25 rigs. The rejections ranged from “No, I dont think so” to “Take you and that camera off my land” to “I am here to escort you off of the property.” Not a single portrait in a day and a half. I hadn’t had a single rejection from Georgia to Texas.
I was pretty deflated and on the brink of quitting the project when I called my always wise Elizabeth back home. I was in Homer (my sprinter van) downloading images that I snapped that day and was confessing my struggle to her. An image came up on my screen that triggered a loud “Oh my God!” and interrupted her advice. I had made an image of a 60’ gas flame and what I saw in that flame stopped me. Maybe I am the only one that sees it, but I dont think so. I will let you make your own judgment here. I texted it to her and she saw it, too. “Maybe this is what you can photograph there instead,” she exclaimed. The next morning I went out and photographed all the flames I could find.
Nothing of real interest came of those following images. I tucked my tail between my legs in defeat and headed out of the oil fields. Where the towering rigs had lined the horizons before, now I could only see one. One last rig breaking up the landscape ahead of me. Something told me to pull in and give it one last try. A man jumped out of his truck to greet me. I said, “Howdy, My name is Parker, and I would love to make some portraits of the workers here for a project I’m doing.” He replied, “Hello, I am Jesus. I think that would be ok. Can you do it fast?” I replied, “You’re kidding me!? Thank you, JESUS!” and went to work.