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Photography Exploration: New Braunfels Farmers' Market

I attended a wedding in New Braunfels, TX this past August. Through a series of miscommunications I wound up having most of Saturday free, alone at the accommodations. Never wanting to waste a moment for some photography practice, I took it upon myself to hit up the farmers market.

Before I get into this, I feel like New Braunfels needs some explanation. I had never been, but as a temporary Wacoan for college knew it to be between San Antonio and Austin. Hill Country is beautiful and dispels a lot of stereotypes about what Texas geography looks like. There are legitimate vineyards, beautiful hills, hidden waterfalls, and some beautiful spots (Lost Maples in the fall and the entire Vanderpool area are a gem worthy of their own post, I'll add that to the list!). To this end, New Braunfels is 44 square miles and has a population just under 90,000.

Now, in 1842, the Mainzer Adelsverein at Biebrich am Rhein (Verein zum Schutze Deutscher Einwanderer in Texas, "Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas") was created as a means to encourage and create community amongst German immigrants in Texas. Prince Carl established the city in 1845 when it became apparent that German immigrants traveling inward from Galveston would not have the time to build their own houses before winter started. As they traveled along the Comal River (from the fresh Comal Springs) north of San Antonio, the Germans settled to start life in New Braunfels. Today, the German roots of the city are celebrated and apparent through much of the downtown area. Gruene Historical District is still within city limits and features a dance hall.

On what seems to be a daily basis, you're likely to find dozens of people enjoying the sun by hopping in a tube and floating down the Comal River. Truly, it was a spectacle to witness troves of people meandering through the city in a bathing suit holding a beer and personal inner tubes as they got towards their river destination. In fact, part of the wedding festivities included a day excursion down the river... but I had to work during that Thursday activity. While I missed the river excursion, the historical German culture is still present today, though I think it is partially unrelated to the central Texan prevalence for Czech culture (kolache sausage rolls were a transformative food for my college culinary experience).

Going to the farmers' market I knew would challenge me in boldness and ability to capture the moment. Overall, I felt very out of place and uncomfortable. Unlike my day spent walking around Bishop Arts, this setting meant I would be required to no longer be an invisible voyeur (which, admittedly, feels unsettling to identify myself as, but honesty does good for personal development). I had to be bold with my camera, capture the moments, and just know that I would only get as much as I boldly witnessed.

To the left of this view is a rich stage setting full of German murals and props.

Culturally curated windows reminiscent of another era. Obviously, staying in my comfort zone to warm up with some non-human subjects.

I think I'm funny—unfortunately, I didn't get everything in the frame right. But hey, no smoking!

We break into the exchange photograph! Nothing amazing or to write home about, but a familiar scene: the sampling of wares.

Recovering from the boldness of taking photos of strangers by taking some produce pics.

Farmers market culture: babies and puppies. And puppies and babies. And kids getting to socialize after 18 months of pandemic craziness.

This kid looks like he belongs in a record store, but as an artist, I'd be remiss to express disappointment about kids rifling through artwork for sale.

Final shot. Definitely a bit of a dud. Out of the 40 I took, I think I'm sharing less than a dozen. Which, overall, is a bummer. But if I didn't learn anything about composition? If I didn't improve my lighting skills at all? At least I spent time, got out there, and I tried to capture some moments. I'm getting more comfortable taking photographs of people, and this is how that continues to progress towards that trend.


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