As a rookie photographer, shooting covers for Texas Monthly was the gold standard of photography assignments.
“Texas Monthly has always been really respected for their photography and design aesthetic. A lot of the photographers I looked up to 10 years ago were shooting covers for Texas Monthly, and I thought, that’s what I want to do,” said Randal.
A decade or so later, and his 22nd and 23rd covers, May and August 2018 respectively, have been beautifying newsstands across the Lone Star State.
“Texas Monthly is a client near and dear to my heart. I feel honored every time they ask me to shoot for them.”
For the 300-year anniversary of the city of San Antonio, the magazine asked Randal to shoot resident artist Cruz Ortiz in front of the iconic Mission Concepción. The city’s five 18th-century Spanish missions make up the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park and have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ortiz is known for his colorful, playful plein air style of painting, and uses his work to address issues related to his experiences growing up in the bicultural landscape of South Texas.
“I loved the idea of the modern folk art painting of a historic old world mission in the background. It’s such a simple but powerful concept. I wanted to shoot the image using natural light to allow the subject matter tell the story,” said Randal.
Over the course of the shoot, Ortiz created two very different paintings. The first take was in the mid-afternoon when the sun was higher and harsher. The second was later in the evening as the sun was going down.
“It was amazing to see how fast he works. I’ve never seen anyone paint on location the way he does. Even though he has this particular folk art style, as the lighting changed, so did the tone and style of the painting. As a photographer, that was very cool to see, and I really enjoyed learning about his process,” recalled Randal.
The August 2018 Small Town Revival issue of Texas Monthly featured the new demographic in the Texas barbeque capital of Lockhart. Road infrastructure updates have cut the travel time from Austin to Lockhart in half making this once sleepy town into the hippest new suburb of Austin.
“The story is about hipsters moving into small towns across Texas and peacefully coexisting with the folks who have been there forever. It’s two different styles of life that are merging together, and it seems to be going really well,” explained Randal.
The shoot was on a scorching July afternoon just after the fourth of July. The Pearl is a classic Texas shotgun-style bar. The building is more than 120 years old, and it has been a bar for most of that time. The newly renovated space reopened as a cocktail and wine bar featuring live music with old-time Texas flair.
“The Pearl still had their festive red, white, and blue flags of above the windows. It was so Rockwellian, classic small-town Americana. Those flags really made the shot,” said Randal.