Matt Cook, Peter Yang and Beth Perkins.
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Contributing photographer Peter Yang may have grown up in the suburbs of Dallas. And he may have left Texas for New York four years ago. But that doesn’t mean he has lost the frontier spirit, which is apparent in his portraits of cowboys in “True Grit.” Yang spent sixteen days back in his home state, traveling to places as far-flung as Sierra Blanca and Paducah (a mere 450 miles from each other). “So many people are interested in publicity that nothing is taboo,” he says. “But the people I met for this project didn’t really care about the attention, so I was able to capture them honestly.”
After serving more than five years in the military, Austin’s Matt Cook had more stories to tell about his experiences in Iraq than he had ever imagined (“Soldier.”) Yet movies have always been his first love. His first documentary, Swim, about his friends Rush Vann and David Broyles, who cross the Strait of Gibraltar, was named as an official selection at the Jackson Hole Film Festival in June. (Broyles is the son of Texas Monthly’s founding editor, William Broyles, who wrote this month’s Behind the Lines.) So how did Cook finance the project? With his Army hazard pay.
Nothing could stop Beth Perkins from getting the perfect photographs of the Gage Hotel’s executive chef, Paul Petersen, and his grilled creations (“Keeper of the Flame.”) Not a state trooper who pulled her over for speeding on her way to Marathon. Not a massive windstorm that forced her to change her original plans for the shoot. And not the demands of remodeling her home in Queens, New York, where she has gotten, in her words, “all fiberglassed up.” But Perkins, who grew up in Houston, knows that it’s all part of the business. “You just have to keep shooting,” she says. “No matter what.”