Ok ok ok I have a bad track record for getting my life together after a major event to blog my photos. It's been a month since SXSW and I'm finally getting them up! Let's be clear though- this was by far the most intense photographic assignment I've ever had and I'm honestly still recovering! Don't get me wrong, I had a blast. But this was another level of photography, for real. Let's break down what even happened since I've been getting a lot of questions about SXSW in general!
What is SXSW?
The best way I can explain this is that SXSW is the biggest organized event I have ever been to. It's an international conference, business networking event, educational event, trade show, job fair, film festival, art expo, marketing launch pad, business incubator, music festival... all in all it's a place to be seen for almost every industry. I was hired to be part of the Client Events Team, meaning my job along with 4 other photographers was to cover all of the "client events" AKA many many many sponsor events and marketing activations over the course of 9 days in Austin, TX. Our goals were to capture the overall experience and the branding efforts at SXSW client events. These events are no joke either- so much money is put into SXSW and you can really tell with how epic these client parties were. We're talking all the heavy hitters, like Budweiser, Pandora, Mercedes, Twitter, Diet Coke, Capital One, Viceland, LITERALLY ANY BRAND you can think of had some sort of marketing activation there. A lot of these events had overlap with concerts which was awesome, because I got to photograph a lot of music while I was at it. My favorite things to photograph are branded lifestyle situations and concerts, so SXSW WAS SO PERFECT FOR ME!
omg y’all this has been the most intense week of all time- photographing 10+ hour days, editing till 5 am, walking 30,000 steps each day... for 7 consecutive days... but it’s been so rewarding! I have had a great time meeting so many people and working on the #SXSW client events team! Now for a 7+ hour drive home 😅 📸 @geoffduncan
These were long days that we were shooting. Generally we'd get out there around 10AM and not be done shooting some nights until 2AM. We'd turn in our best shots every night so some nights I wasn't in bed until like 5AM or so. I shot over 13,000 images (yes I counted because I was curious) and walked at least 10 miles a day with all my camera gear on me according to my FitBit. Any other festival I had photographed up until this point was 3 days long, MAX, and this was over a week long so I was physically and mentally exhausted. For someone with back problems, this was insane but SO SO rewarding because I got to meet so many great people and attend so many incredible events!
Shout out to my friend David Brenden Hall for hiring me and letting me stay on his futon all week (we met at Voodoo Fest, man oh man I love when networking turns into job opportunities and real friendships.) He also threw a few extra assignments my way while I was in town so I got to photograph the Austin Music Awards, cover an event for the Bluegrass Situation (note this event was not an official SXSW event and is no way affiliated with SXSW) and do some beauty shots for MGM Resorts. OH YEAH and I got to photograph a second line by iconic New Orleans band Preservation Hall for KREWE while they were in town (thanks Ashley Monaghan for hooking me up with that one!)
While I was at SXSW all day every day, I tried to shoot as much as I could that wasn't also required of me... because why not? I'm already there and with my camera you know?
Brace yourselves because I tried really hard to narrow down the photos for this blog post but it's still just a small fraction of everything! There are a lot, but hey do what you want.
All images © Jordan Hefler, please reach out about usage for any of them.