Editor's note: Daniel Cavazos is a noted Austin-based photographer who covers ACL Fest, SXSW, and other key events for CultureMap and other national outlets. This year, Daniel's daughter, 14-year old Ryder Cavazos, joined him as a photographer for the festival's encore weekend, October 14-16.
If you had told me in 2014, as I walked my then-6-year-old daughter up the Honda stage stairs to photograph Fitz and the Tantrums that we would be doing it again (Echosmith in 2015 and Caveman in 2016), I would have thought you were off your rocker. Those three years of seeded memories sprouted when she signed up for yearbook in 8th grade and photojournalism in 9th grade. When I asked my daughter, Ryder, if she wanted to take a shot at photographing ACL Fest this year, she said yes without hesitation.
I could not have been more delighted, but then the questions any parent might ask began to fill my restless nights. Was she capable of enduring three days in the Texas heat? Could she operate a camera through Zilker Park’s Great Lawn in varying conditions? Did she even really want to shoot? When I imported her images after the first night, the answers were laid out on my screen. I scrolled through an inventive and courageous gallery of photographs.
I found that Ryder’s most creative and bold photos came when I left her on her own while I was in the photo pit shooting bands. My typically shy daughter was utilizing the 15-20 minutes of freedom during each act to snap decisive moments. Not only was I watching her skills as a young photographer blossom, I was witnessing moments of individual expression through her lens.
One thing I have always championed in this city is the limitless opportunity for aspiring artists to grow. Whether it be musicians honing their craft in the plethora of venues this town offers, or photographers and videographers logging the many hours needed to dial in their careers, Austin has historically provided a landscape for those wanting to further their art.
I cannot thank Sandee Fenton and the amazing people that make Austin City Limits happen enough for this wonderful experience. It allowed a 14-year-old to return to the very grounds that sparked her interest in photography as a young girl, and to capture the essence of the festival with a new perspective.