Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Spending Time at Band Camp

My first cover story/feature for the Houston Press was one that was assigned to me. All I knew coming in was it was something that would have a strong photography element to it. I figured something with the oil spill or maybe a profile with some local celebrity. I don't know, it could have been a number of things. Which was why I was damn surprised when I was told my feature was on band camp – but pleasantly surprised.

Initially, it struck me as sort of lame topic. When I was in high school, the band was not much to talk about. Just playing the "Star Spangled Banner" was an undertaking beyond its talent level. But once I started doing some research on the Houston HS band scene, I came to realize there was something to this.

While football is king on high school campuses, band is pretty high up in the royal court. Bands are talented out here. They play a range of music, including a good amount of modern stuff (Lady Gaga, Usher and Trey Songz, among others). And band directors are quite the characters.

There's also the education storyline, which, in Houston, is severe. High schools in the area are troubled. Students drop out at disturbing rates, test scores are among the lowest in the state, and yet, there are these high school bands that manage to flourish.

It was a fun story to report, and quite educational; I knew nothing about marching bands before this assignment. I still can't read music, but I have a much deeper appreciation and respect for what band directors and their students go through.

You can find the story on the Houston Press website, along with a number of the photos I shot (the cover image above is one of my photos), and videos. Feel free to leave any feedback you may have about the story.

1 comment:

Celeste Hoang said...

Loved the story, Chasen! Your writing is terrific and you got some really awesome quotes. Congrats again on this cover! :)