Stuck in Customs, SXSW-style

Sunday could not have been a better day, full of everything I love about SXSW. This included finally managing to make my schedule and Omar‘s schedule work together. I’ve known him online for about a decade, and got to spend a painfully brief ten minute block with him when I was at SXSW in 2009, so it meant a lot to get to hang with Omar for a good chunk of time.

Just to show that everything works out: We had to laugh when we showed up for a party a day early, confusing the hell out of some poor old security guy. So we checked out the IFC center before heading to the beautiful Driskill. There, we bumped into Cali Lewis. As we were talking to Cali, some guy walked up carrying a camera. He clearly knew Omar and Cali, based on the exchange of hugs. Then, this:

OMAR: So what are you doing here?
TREY: Not much. Just leading a photo walk.

At which point we looked behind Trey and saw roughly 400 people on his heels. It turns out that Trey is THE Trey, Trey Ratcliff, aka Stuck in Customs. I’ve been following him for years on Flickr, where his stunning HDR photography attracts thousands of comments.

So we joined the photo walk, since we were right at the front with Trey and all. I’m sure I’ll never forget seeing hundreds of people taking photos with their iPads, DSLRs, point-and-shoots, and cell phones while stretching three city blocks en masse. Here’s one of Omar’s photos from the walk (yes, that’s me, checking email as usual):

Several hundred people are walking down 6th St. taking photos... on Twitpic

As I said to Omar a few times, “This is SO South By!” It was just one of those experiences that reminds you why tens of thousands of people descend on Austin every year for this thing. Thank God we showed up on the wrong day for that party.


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