Bob Marley lyrics in a photograph – The day I shot (photographed) the sheriff

Chambers County, People in Places

The day I shot (photographed) the sheriff
by Houston commercial photographer – Nicki Evans Photography

NEP_0207-Edit-2“I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy…” I hear these lyrics every time I look at this portrait of Sheriff Brian Hawthorne of the Chambers County Sheriff’s Department.

As a small business owner, I’m a member of a few of the local chamber of commerce groups. I attend as many events as possible to meet fellow business owners and members of the communities where I work and live.

Each of these groups has a yearly awards gala of some sort. When that awards banquet was coming up for the West Chambers County Chamber of Commerce earlier this year, I thought it would be nice if they had a portrait of the “Person of the Year” to reveal when his/her name was announced. The timing didn’t work out to photograph the award winner beforehand, so instead, the chamber president and I worked out an arrangement for me to photograph Sheriff Hawthorne after the event. The portrait will be displayed in the chamber office throughout the year until the 2019 “Person of the Year” is named.

Sheriff Hawthorne and I met early one morning during spring break outside of the Chambers County Courthouse in Anahuac, TX to make his portrait. It was a beautiful, blue sky, sunny day but also about 50 degrees with a blustery wind. A large pile of sand bags and an assistant were needed so I could “shoot” the sheriff while avoiding “taking him out” with a heavy duty light stand and 60″ diffuser (a.k.a. giant kite, in this situation). I would not want to be known as the local photographer who impaled the sheriff with a light stand.

The portrait turned out just as I had pictured it, and I’m pleased to share the results of the time “I shot the sheriff…”

Nicki Evans Photography – 2018
Have camera. Will travel. 

Nicki Evans Photography – Houston, TX – Commercial Photographer

Home is where…, Part 2 – The oysters are harvested

Chambers County, personal, Projects

Home is where…, Part 2-The oysters are harvested
by Houston commercial photographer – Nicki Evans Photography

With a large part of Chambers County touching Trinity and/or Galveston Bays, it’s no wonder that so many people who call this county home have jobs related to the water and seafood. So the first installment of “Home is where…” features Jeri’s Seafood.

Jeri’s Seafood, based in Smith Point, began in 1970. Since then, multiple generations of the Nelson family have worked in the business on Galveston Bay harvesting oysters and practicing sustainability of the local reefs.

At Jeri’s Seafood, the day begins around 5:30 a.m., when employees arrive to head out to the reefs or begin shucking and packaging oysters. With little light (no sunlight at all), bucket after bucket of ice is loaded onto the boats that will go out to the reefs in Galveston Bay. During the summer months, trips to the reef are short because of the heat.

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Close to 6 a.m., when the sky is just beginning to lighten up, the boats leave for the bay.NEvansPhotos_Jeris_Seafood_Smith_Point_TX_Chambers_County_Home_is_Where_Oysters_Houston_Photographer_Commercial_Editorial_Advertising_Nicki_Evans_Photography_0003
About the same time, another crew works on moving bags of oysters between trailers and a giant drive-in freezer.NEvansPhotos_Jeris_Seafood_Smith_Point_TX_Chambers_County_Home_is_Where_Oysters_Houston_Photographer_Commercial_Editorial_Advertising_Nicki_Evans_Photography_0010
Inside, men dressed in hoodies (because it’s cold in there) and rubber boots line counters from one wall to the next shucking piles and piles of oysters. Pop the shell, drop the oyster into a bucket of water and knock the shell into a crate on the floor.NEvansPhotos_Jeris_Seafood_Smith_Point_TX_Chambers_County_Home_is_Where_Oysters_Houston_Photographer_Commercial_Editorial_Advertising_Nicki_Evans_Photography_0006NEvansPhotos_Jeris_Seafood_Smith_Point_TX_Chambers_County_Home_is_Where_Oysters_Houston_Photographer_Commercial_Editorial_Advertising_Nicki_Evans_Photography_0001NEvansPhotos_Jeris_Seafood_Smith_Point_TX_Chambers_County_Home_is_Where_Oysters_Houston_Photographer_Commercial_Editorial_Advertising_Nicki_Evans_Photography_0008NEvansPhotos_Jeris_Seafood_Smith_Point_TX_Chambers_County_Home_is_Where_Oysters_Houston_Photographer_Commercial_Editorial_Advertising_Nicki_Evans_Photography_0007
After about 30-40 minutes of shucking, the crates of empty shells begin to fill up. Two guys begin emptying the crates into the bucket of a forklift, so those shucking oysters never have to stop the process.

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After the forklift bucket fills up, the oyster shells are then taken outside, much to the happiness of waiting seagulls, where they are poured into a dump truck. Later these oysters will be returned to the bay to help sustain the reefs. NEvansPhotos_Jeris_Seafood_Smith_Point_TX_Chambers_County_Home_is_Where_Oysters_Houston_Photographer_Commercial_Editorial_Advertising_Nicki_Evans_Photography_0013
Around 6:15 a.m., the first full buckets of raw oysters are being sent to the next point in the assembly line for washing, sorting, weighing and packaging.NEvansPhotos_Jeris_Seafood_Smith_Point_TX_Chambers_County_Home_is_Where_Oysters_Houston_Photographer_Commercial_Editorial_Advertising_Nicki_Evans_Photography_0014NEvansPhotos_Jeris_Seafood_Smith_Point_TX_Chambers_County_Home_is_Where_Oysters_Houston_Photographer_Commercial_Editorial_Advertising_Nicki_Evans_Photography_0015NEvansPhotos_Jeris_Seafood_Smith_Point_TX_Chambers_County_Home_is_Where_Oysters_Houston_Photographer_Commercial_Editorial_Advertising_Nicki_Evans_Photography_0016
Once the oysters are placed into buckets for delivery, they are sealed, placed in boxes and then covered in ice until it’s time to be loaded onto an 18-wheeler. NEvansPhotos_Jeris_Seafood_Smith_Point_TX_Chambers_County_Home_is_Where_Oysters_Houston_Photographer_Commercial_Editorial_Advertising_Nicki_Evans_Photography_0017NEvansPhotos_Jeris_Seafood_Smith_Point_TX_Chambers_County_Home_is_Where_Oysters_Houston_Photographer_Commercial_Editorial_Advertising_Nicki_Evans_Photography_0018
The sun has now been out for about 15 minutes. Some people are probably just leaving for work or maybe even waking up, and the well-oiled machine that is Jeri’s Seafood is already on a roll for the day. NEvansPhotos_Jeris_Seafood_Smith_Point_TX_Chambers_County_Home_is_Where_Oysters_Houston_Photographer_Commercial_Editorial_Advertising_Nicki_Evans_Photography_0019NEvansPhotos_Jeris_Seafood_Smith_Point_TX_Chambers_County_Home_is_Where_Oysters_Houston_Photographer_Commercial_Editorial_Advertising_Nicki_Evans_Photography_0020
Stay tuned for the next installment of “Home is where…” Hopefully there will be a second part to the Jeris’ Seafood blog, when I have a chance to ride out to the reefs.

Nicki Evans Photography – 2016
Have camera. Will travel.

Nicki Evans Photography – Houston, TX – Commercial Photographer

Home is where…, Part 1

Chambers County, personal, Projects

Home is where…, Part 1
by Houston commercial photographer – Nicki Evans Photography

It seems that many people (who grow up in small towns) want to get away from their hometown as soon as they have a chance. Many of them say it’s because there’s nothing to do. They want to see “bigger and better” things.

I always had a tiny desire to live in loft apartment in a big city, most likely inspired by the TV show “Friends.” But my desire was never based on wanting to escape my small-town life, just the chance to do something new and different.

Deep down though, I’ve always been a hometown girl. I loved growing up in a small town. I didn’t think of it so much as a type of lifestyle; I was just having fun being a kid. In hindsight, I know that most of the things I got to do as a kid are not the norm for kids in a big city…or probably not even in most smaller towns today.

We used to ride bikes from one house to the next, stopping to jump on one friend’s trampoline or take a swim in another one’s pool. We cruised around town on go-carts, scrounging up change from couches and laundry baskets to buy a pint of ice cream or a can of Spaghetti-Os at Hill’s Grocery (just for an excuse to drive the go-cart to the store). We fished and had mud wars. We roller bladed while pretending to be Nancy Kerrigan and attempted roller hockey. Other than occasionally stopping to play Donkey Kong on the Super Nintendo, we were rarely indoors.

As we got older and began to drive, whole new realms of fun opened up, as we could now hook up to the boat and go wake boarding any time. After that, summers and weekends revolved completely around the water…lifeguarding at the wave pool some days, wake boarding in “The Channel” at Fort Anahuac Park or occasionally taking a day trip down to the beach.

I guess I’m getting a little sidetracked while reliving my childhood. The point of the story and this blog series is to showcase my hometown, Anahuac, and the county, Chambers, where I grew up and spent the majority of the first 2.5 decades of my life.

Somewhere along the way, I discovered that aside from being a place where you can have a pretty great childhood, there’s so much more to Chambers County…incredible people with stories to tell, lots of history, a variety of industries and beautiful scenery.

There are about 14 cities or communities that make up the county: Anahuac, Double Bayou, Oak Island, Smith Point, Monroe City, Stowell, Winnie, Wallisville, Hankamer, Cove, Beach City, Old River-Winfree, Mont Belvieu and parts of Baytown. The people in these communities are fisherman, farmers, ranchers and hunting guides. Some people raise gators or longhorns, some harvest oysters, some fly crop-dusters,  some help conserve the marshes and wildlife within. And some do a little bit of it all.

For a few years (maybe more), I’ve had it in the back of my mind to do a photo series featuring all of those stories in Chambers County. This summer, I finally decided to stop thinking about it and just make it happen. The photo series, “Home is where…” will hopefully be one that continues for a long time, with blog posts as frequent as possible, depending on when I can fit these little adventures into my schedule. I hope to learn more about the place I call home and meet more people who can tell me their stories. And above all, I hope to tell these stories through my photographs.

Visit Part 2 to see the first story from Chambers County.

 

Nicki Evans Photography – 2016
Have camera. Will travel.

Nicki Evans Photography – Houston, TX – Commercial Photographer