For his first assignment for Texas Monthly, Minneapolis-based photographer David Bowman visited the Iowa cornfield where Buddy Holly’s plane crashed fifty years ago (“The Night the Music Died”). To get to the remote site, he pulled his equipment on a sled, braving subzero temperatures and knee-deep snowdrifts. And that’s when he realized the power of Holly’s music. “People had already been to the memorial and left personal effects,” he says. “Someone even left a driver’s license from Hawaii. Now, that’s a fan.”
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” says senior executive editor Paul Burka of the hoopla surrounding the 2009 Legislature. He should know; after all, he covered his first session for Texas Monthly in 1975. But what started off with a dramatic Speaker’s race will most likely end with a battle for governor, between Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison (“The Thrilla in Vanilla”). “Both will be seeking endorsements during the session,” he says. “And as for the legislative agenda, let’s just say the issues may not be settled on the merits.” Well, surely he’s seen that before.
While photographing Tom Stiles, whose son, Jake, died of a drug overdose in his fraternity house at SMU (“An Isolated Incident”), San Antonio native Bear Guerra tried to let his subject control the shot as much as possible. “I’ve done two stories like this before, where a parent has lost a child,” he says. “It’s extremely difficult. I always try and spend as much time as possible just talking to the person. Tom felt that telling his story and being photographed would help prevent similar tragedies from affecting other families. It takes tremendous strength to be able to do that.”