As a high school theatre teacher for well over 20 years, I have had the joy of watching many of my former students grow into their careers in the entertainment industry. The contacts they make, the friendships they build, and the loyalties to their past all come back to benefit my program and current students.
Film & video director Joseph Kahn graduated the semester before I arrived at Jersey Village High School, but he remains loyal and continues to visit regularly to speak with my current students. He's even put his former teachers in one of his music videos he did for U2, Stuck in the Moment. He continues to support former JV Players as they begin chasing their dreams, providing a strong networking system between the school & L.A. ...You can find my post about Joseph HERE, just scroll to the middle of the blog post. I have several former students who, like Joseph, return regularly to support & encourage my current group.
I recently had the opportunity to photograph a former student, Kirk Johnston, as he completed a recording of a beautiful song for a cancer charity (more on that later). Kirk is a musician. He is an AMAZING guitarist. In his early years after school he traveled with his band playing gigs at Whiskey-A-Go-Go in LA, & CBGB's in NY. Life as a rock star took it's toll, the band broke up, & eventually Kirk found his way back to his destiny: creating beautiful music himself, with his beautiful wife, and the good Lord who blessed him with his talents.
Kirk reunited with Mark Younger-Smith, a rock star in his own right. Having worked as the lead guitarist in Billy Idol's band, Mark earned gold & platinum albums for their work together, as well as his work on film soundtracks and more. Mark & his wife settled in Smithville, a small town just outside Austin, Tx. Mark opened a recording studio, & they are remodeling a home that's over 100 yrs old, & what a great job they have done! She is the Boudoir Queen, and a fashion designer with a love of all things vintage, so naturally I was in heaven as Mark gave me the tour.
But first, before we got there, we took a short break on the road to grab a few quick shots of this lovely little sleepy town between Houston & Smithville. The old southern home and the beautiful barn in the back grabbed my eye instantly.
Having grown up in the South, I have a love of old oak trees. This one, like many, seemed to reach out and talk to me. I wish I could hear all the decades of stories this tree could tell!
We arrived at the studio, I met Mark, & together the three of us enjoyed a beautiful fall afternoon of conversation & tea. We had a great photo session too!
Mark is still building his studio, but he is open for business, recording & mixing for many musicians from all over the world.
On the way back to Houston, while still in Smithville, Mark directed us to the house where the film Hope Floats was made. It is a beautiful view as it sits at the end of the street welcoming visitors with a canopy of old oak trees.
And of course we could not leave without stopping of at the world's largest Ginger Bread Man, actually just the pan the cookie was baked in for the world record. Kirk loves that thing. I fell in love with the beautiful victorian clock! This spot was the old train station back when this town was in its heyday during the late 19th century with a population of about 30,000. An explosion on one of the train cars took out the town. It never fully recovered, but it's perfect the way it is, with 3,000.
stay tuned for part 2: Fantasy...