Texas Frame by Frame

The Texas Story Project.

Photographer Wyatt McSpadden discusses his career and the images that have captured the people and places of Texas in an interview recorded at the Bullock Museum on July 8, 2015.

I went into the freelance photography business in 1976 in Amarillo. I had taken photos…I worked for an eccentric millionaire there by the name of Stanley Marsh and I took pictures at his place. Again, he was an eccentric fellow and loved to have a photographer around, and probably the first significant work I did was documenting the burial of the Cadillacs in the Cadillac Ranch in 1974.

But as the years have gone by, I find that my body of work, the pictures that are the most meaningful to me, all have something to do with Texas. I never certainly set out to be a "Texas photographer," but I think that did I not live in Texas, I wouldn't have the body of work that I have now.

I was asked to be a judge at the Brady, Texas, World Championship Goat Cook-Off in 2010. They have 30 judges, more than 200 contestants, and it's a huge party in a municipal park in the little town of Brady, Texas. And, I brought my camera along, well, just because I take my camera everywhere, and took lots and lots of photos in addition to my judging responsibilities. It was great fun. It didn't turn me into a big goat meat convert, but it was great fun to do just the same.

As I was returning home from Brady on the way down to Llano- it was early on a Sunday morning- and I came upon this stretch of Highway 71 that was illuminated, backlit by the sun. A supergraphic kind of look at a Texas road. I pulled the car to the side, hopped out with the camera, and took dozens of pictures. I'm very happy to see that years later it's being used in this great display here in the Bullock Museum.

And, you know, some of my pictures help to tell the story of Texas in some way. I wouldn't want to get too high falutin' about it, but I find it very gratifying...this photo [of Texas Highway 71] speaks more than just a picture. It has some feeling behind it, some emotion. And those are the successful pictures for me.

 

Editor's note: This story was produced by the Bullock Museum for the Texas Story Project. All images courtesy of Wyatt McSpadden. For more infomation about McSpadden and to see additional Texas images, click here. Visit the Texas Story Project exhibition now on view in the third floor Texas History Gallery.

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