Contributing photographer Wyatt McSpadden on getting the right shot of the Bandidos.
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texasmonthly.com: I heard a story about a cherry picker for the shot of the funeral procession. What happened there?
Wyatt McSpadden: My assistant Will and I were frantically scouting for a place to shoot the procession. We’d looked hard on Friday and found nothing exciting. I felt like I needed to have a high vantage point to capture the hundreds of bikes. It was Saturday morning, the procession was to travel from the funeral home to a nearby church for the service. We were looking once again at the route and had thirty minutes before they appeared. We were driving on the service road on Loop 410, and Will shouted, “Look!” Across the highway was a cherry picker with a “Rent me” sign. We drove over, woke the owner, made a quick deal, and had it in place with five minutes to spare
texasmonthly.com: What’s the process for art like this in the magazine? At what point do you get involved in the story, who approves the art?
WM: Executive editor Skip Hollandsworth made arrangements for us to cover this unique ceremony. He told photography editor Leslie Baldwin and art director T.J. Tucker that he had to have someone cover it. I was fortunate enough to get the call. T.J., Leslie, and I made the selections
texasmonthly.com: What were your ideas going into this shoot? What kinds of images were you looking for? What was the Bandidos shoot like? How did it compare with the many other shoots you’ve done?
WM: I had no idea what to expect. Will and I traveled with all our photo gear so we could do whatever was necessary. You have to keep your eyes and mind open in a situation like this. Follow your instincts, don’t second-guess yourself. We were tolerated by these folks; they’re not seeking attention. You must be sensitive to the situation, respectful—and usually things work out. I’ve done hundreds of photo sessions, but this was the first time my camera had been covered in grave dirt
texasmonthly.com: Do you have any interesting stories from the shoot or the funeral?
WM: The whole scene was fascinating, a tribal gathering. A real subculture that we rarely see
texasmonthly.com: How many photos did you take, both during the funeral and of just the Bandidos? Why did you choose to photograph the Bandidos that you did? What was special about these particular Bandidos?
WM: Around three hundred frames, not many really. We chose people based on their looks and an individual’s willingness to be photographed. Everyone there would have made a terrific subject
texasmonthly.com: Which is your favorite shot?
WM: The Bandidos shoveling dirt into the grave
texasmonthly.com: I know your son Trevor has helped you with shoots in the past. Did you have any help this time?
WM: I can’t do this work without help. My good friend Will Phillips was with me. It’s impossible to do the lighting required and deal with the subjects
texasmonthly.com: What was your favorite part of this shoot?
WM: It’s always great to have Skip on the scene. He has a great visual sense and a wonderful way with people.