An Evening with Photographer Bill Records at Precision Camera (5/20/14)
by Tom Knutsen, CCV Member
[photo: Bill Records, left, telling CCV members that one reason Former Governor George W. Bush succeeded was his ability to work with Texas late Comptroller Bob Bullock, shown above at right talking with the governor.]
Though noted for being the official photographer for former Texas Governor George W. Bush, Bill Records told a Capital City Village crowd that his “best gig ever” was at The Armadillo World Headquarters when Austin’s music reputation was nascent. “I had a beer and a plate of nachos,” he said Tuesday, May 20.
That is where he began a career comprising four decades of photographing celebrities like Goldie Hawn, a school lunchroom for a Texas Monthly cover, the cast and crew of Friday Night Lights, as well as the Bush years in Texas’ Governor’s Mansion.
Dave Gamble, Capital City Village treasurer, introduced Mr. Records, “I met Bill sailing and then I learned he is a photographer.”
Mr. Records took the cue and said, “I like to sail, and when I’m not sailing, I like to take pictures of sailing.” Dr. Gamble, operating the image projector, toggled through a series of sailing action shots, sailboats heeling over with crews leaning to windward.
Not only were 26 CCV members there, but the event also attracted Larry and Tangy (pronounced tan-jee) Garrison of Tulia, TX, who had come to Austin for the Texas Villages Open House, coordinated by CCV. Mr. Garrison said they were interested in developing a Village in Tulia, the seat of Swisher County, 40 miles southwest of Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
The Armadillo work led to photographing Austin Ballet Theatre, Mr. Records said, and images of ballet dancers came up on the screen. The ballet troupe used to perform at the Armadillo on Sundays, and Mr. Records said he really enjoyed collaborating with the company’s founder, Stanley Hall.
A big breakthrough occurred from that work with the arts community, he said, leading to a captivating photo of young Goldie Hawn. While her image smiled on the projection screen, Mr. Records said, “When that photo hit the portfolio, the phone began to ring. She was very easy to shoot.”
Soon, he began doing commercial work, advertisements for Texas Monthly, then the cover, and eventually steady work for the new Dell Computer Company. Mr. Records shared an anecdote about Dell, saying that local advertising entrepreneur Forrest Preece lost the Dell account, he lost it, too. A firm in San Francisco had wangled it away from Austin, so Mr. Records said he went west, made an appointment to meet with that agency, and arrived in a suit. “They were all in shorts and Hawaiian shirts,” he said, “so they thought I was from the IRS!” Nonetheless, he talked his way back into the contract.
The core of the program at Precision Camera was the Bush gubernatorial work. Mr. Records shared stories with photo after photo. One simple image of the former governor walking with his arm around his wife, Laura, in front of the Governor’s Mansion, Mr. Records identified as, “That was his favorite picture.”
He shared a photo of Former Governor Bush talking with political opponent Texas Representative Sylvester Turner, Dem. Houston. Both men are laughing. “Mr. Bush was always quick on his feet,” Mr. Records said, “so when Sylvester Turner, who voted against just about anything the Bush Administration proposed, asked if Mr. Bush would find him a job if he became president, Mr. Bush replied, ‘I’ll make you my ambassador to Bosnia.'”
Showing a picture of the Bush twin sisters, Barbara and Jenna, Mr. Records recounted that they resented their security detail and often tried to elude it. One time, he said, they disappeared in a mall while shopping. He and the security agent figured they’d hidden in a restroom, so they split up to guard both of its entrances. Yes, they corralled the girls.
While a photo of the senior and junior Bush families was on the screen, Mr. Records said some people criticized him for making the senior Bushes look old. “No, I think Mother Nature did that,” he told them. He told that to illustrate the point that sometimes an artist has to be thick-skinned. He added, ” You get hired for all the wrong reasons, and you get fired for all the wrong reasons.”
The latter part of his talk focused on his time as the on-set photographer for the television series “Friday Night Lights,” filmed largely in Austin.
The question and answer portion of the talk revolved around the technical changes in photography during his career. Having started out with a manually operated Nikon, he said the switch to digital photography has changed just about everything. “I never had an out-of-focus picture until I had ‘auto-focus,'” he said.
Capital City Village (CCV), www.capitalcityvillage.org, is the first and only “village” in Texas. The village movement started in 2001 in Beacon Hill, Massachusetts, as a group of seniors looking for a way to assist each other and themselves to age in their own homes and community. From that start, over 200 villages have developed across the country as part of the Village to Village Network, www.vtvnetwork.org.
A similar group of seniors in Austin, Texas, saw an article about Beacon Hill Village in the New York Times in 2007, visited Beacon Hill in 2008 and were chartered as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2008. Since 2010, CCV has received funding annually from St. David’s Foundation, including funding for 2014. St. David’s has been a faithful partner and we hope they will continue in this role. However, with almost 100 members, it is time for CCV to diversify and deepen its funding base.
CCV offers memberships with fee schedules based on percentages of Federal Poverty Level. This requires subsidizing of membership fees with grants and donations. Currently, 15% of our members receive subsidized memberships. This percentage will grow, and it is important that CCV’s funding sources increase to ensure that anyone who desires village membership will be able to afford it.
We are seeking a ¼-time (10 hours per week, flexible schedule) grant writer for a 6-month contract, with the possibility of renewal. It is important that the position be filled by an individual who not only is an experienced grant writer, but also has some established relationships developed with foundations that fund senior initiatives. This position will also include grant reporting.
All inquiries may be directed to Bonnie Gilson, Executive Director, Capital City Village, firstname.lastname@example.org, 512-524-2709.