Editor’s note: I’ve been happy to know Chrissy for a little over a year now. She has been incredible at helping with many things here at SA Flavor, including assisting with our @saflavor Instagram account. Recently, I noticed Chrissy’s photos (@chrissychavez) and was so impressed that I asked her to write an article about how she became interested and told her she should enter to exhibit at Fotoseptiembre. Fortunately, she did both! Her story is below and you can catch her exhibiting some of her photography at The Movement Gallery on September 8th.
Growing up here in San Antonio all I could think about was getting out. San Antonio was boring to me. I daydreamed about traveling the world, eating amazing food and meeting interesting and cool people, which to my mind did not exist in San Antonio.
Oh, how quickly things change.
I did travel the world and meet interesting people. But this year I’ve moved back home and fallen madly in love with San Antonio with the help of an unlikely friend: photography.
With Fotoseptiembre upon us, I wanted to share how photography has taught me to love this city, and how it might teach you too.
Like I mentioned, I’ve been lucky enough to travel quite a bit in the last few years but I don’t have a ton of pictures of those trips. I have some but not nearly as many as I wish I had. That’s because my mindset throughout my traveling times was “You’re only here once. Soak it all in.” I didn’t want to be fidgeting with my camera settings or constantly looking at life through a viewfinder when I could be taking in breathtaking views or talking to interesting people. I stuck my nose up at my friends snapping pictures with each other and of their cocktails at the bar, Snapchatting and Instagramming every single moment. It drove me nuts and made me hate photography.
But maybe I was wrong. Was I missing out more when I had no camera and nothing to remember the moment? Was it the case that I was actually shorting myself by not taking photos and having those reminders to look back on? I wrestled with these conflicting ideas quite a bit before I moved back to San Antonio this past January.
I picked up a little Sony a5000 when I arrived back in Texas to find out what I might be missing. I started taking 20-30 mins a day shooting scenes of the downtown before I went into my job at a hotel on the River Walk. It didn’t take long before I was hooked.
I found myself photographing places I only had faint memories of as a kid growing up in San Antonio, like the Missions, Main Plaza and Hemisfair Park. I walked through stretches of the River Walk I’d never been to before meeting—and photographing—some of the many men and women that roam the streets downtown. I went to new restaurants and wandered through neighborhoods. I looked forward to bus rides, (something I never thought I would enjoy), I discovered street performers like Remy Bones and I’ve learned to appreciate San Antonio’s amazing architecture.
When I go out to shoot, I’m looking for something interesting. This type of mentality really makes you a lot more aware of your surroundings. That sweet little girl and her mother playing together you may have just passed by without noticing before, but with camera in hand, you stop and appreciate it.
Toting around a camera also makes me do more interesting things, like actually talk to people walking down the street. A simple “Can I take your photo?” can open up a world of connections. This new love of photography has made me more curious about San Antonio. It’s not boring. It’s complicated and vast and layered.
Photographing the city these past few months have helped me to look at San Antonio with a new perspective and a deep appreciation. Everyone should walk through our city with a tourist’s curiosity and a local’s love.
As I prepare to leave the Alamo City again I’m glad that I have these memories of my hometown. I’m excited to call myself a new member of San Antonio’s photography community, even if only for a short time. I’ll be showing my work during Fotoseptiembre at The Movement Gallery on September 8th. As a newbie, I’m honored to be among the great photographers showing their work there. You can follow me on Instagram @chrissychavez to see more of San Antonio’s streets and the people that roam them. Who knows, maybe you’ll pick up a camera and rediscover the city yourself.