Rivard Report: Though not a native San Antonian, you’ve lived here for much of your life – can you explain why San Antonio has such a deep connection to The Spurs?  What is it, do you think, about them that inspire such passionate support?

Annette Crawford

Annette Crawford: I believe it’s the caliber of players we’ve had on the Spurs roster – quality people who have given back to our community in so many ways.

George Gervin, David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli – these are all athletes who are role models and they’ve been loyal to their team and their city. How can you not admire someone like that?

Plus the Coyote is the best mascot in the NBA!

Steve McCray, a retired Air Force master sergeant and graphic artist for the Air Force Recruiting Service Marketing Division, is the ultimate Spurs fan. Here he’s surrounded by just a small portion of his Spurs memorabilia. The box of doughnuts is representative of the approximately 40 dozen doughnuts he’s bought over the years after every playoff win. Photo by Annette Crawford.

RR: Is this connection unique? Do you think these displays of support that you’ve photographed are common with any national sports team in a large city?

Crawford: From personal experience, I think the only other team I can compare the Spurs to are my hometown St. Louis Cardinals. They have that same loyal fan base through the good years and the bad. I was in 5th grade when the Cardinals won the World Series in 1967. We got to watch the day games during school, and I still remember the nuns cheering on the team! Plus we have that same caliber of player – people like Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith, and the greatest of them all – Stan Musial.

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RR: How did you go about taking this set of photos?

Crawford: I put the word out on Facebook and got some suggestions that way. I had three or four main areas in mind. Once I found one spot, then it seemed like there were others nearby so it was pretty easy. I know I just captured the tip of the iceberg.

RR: What’s your favorite photo from this set?

Crawford: I love the photos I shot at the Super Spurs Fan’s house off Zarzamora Street, but in particular, my favorite is the close-up of the Tim Duncan poster on top of the window air conditioner. To me, it really looks like he’s just looking out the window, checking out the neighborhood.

Photo by Annette Crawford.

RR: In your first post on the Rivard Report, Sweet Home San Antonio, you mentioned that you’re a photographer (for the Majestic Theatre and Sam’s Burger Joint and Music Hall) and a public affairs officer at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph – how did you stumble upon this dual employment arrangement?

Crawford: Well, I think “stumbled” is the correct word to use for this situation because it was really a matter of being in the right place at the right time and everything just fell together for me.

At my job at Randolph, I work with local blues musician Jimmy Spacek. He plays at Sam’s occasionally and I asked him to introduce me to one of the club’s partners, to see if I could start taking photos in exchange for free admission. That took off like a rocket and pretty soon I was taking photos for the San Antonio Blues Society, too.

Then the Majestic Theatre became a sponsor of the Blues Society and I was able to take photos at two shows featuring blues legends – Buddy Guy last June and B.B. King in August. The folks at the Majestic liked my photos and asked if I would be their house photographer and so I started that in September. I now shoot many of their concerts, comedians and the Broadway series, too.

The little ol’ band from Texas, ZZ Top. Photo by Annette Crawford/Courtesy Majestic Theatre.

Sam’s has taken several of my photos and blown them up into big posters. As soon as you walk into the music hall, there’s a picture of Ruben V. Then over the booths on the back wall are my photos of Ian Moore, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Gary Clark Jr. and Carolyn Wonderland. It’s a rush to see them every time I walk in.

I am one lucky person. Many of my friends tease me and ask how I can keep up the pace. It’s the music that gives me energy. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t have all these wonderful and amazing opportunities in my life – and a great day job, too!

RR: Were you always drawn to photography or did that develop later, perhaps while attending UIW’s Adult Degree Completion Program?

Crawford: I always loved photography; I think I inherited that from my dad. But like my appreciation for music, it was something that came in and out of my life because of where I was at in various points in my life. I can tell you for sure, this time they’re both here to stay.

And while University of Incarnate Word didn’t fuel my photography bug, it did give me the impetus to expand my mind and always seek to improve myself. I finished my bachelor’s degree when I was 41, but there were many students older than me. It just goes to prove you never stop learning.

Donovan Keith, lead singer of Soul Track Mind, during the Groove Into Fall Jam last September. Photo by Annette Crawford/Courtesy Sam’s Burger Joint.

RR: What makes you pick up a camera (philosophically or literally)?

Crawford: I feel like I see life through a camera lens now. Even when I don’t have my camera with me, in my mind’s eye I’m framing a shot. I look at scenes at different angles, not just straight on.

I’m drawn to two main areas – musicians and architecture. Sometimes I’m even able to combine the two, such as when I shot photos of bluesman Charlie Cruz at Mission San Juan. He used the photos for his CD of songs recorded with a cigar box guitar, which is really one of the most amazing musical instruments I’ve ever heard.

RR:  Do you have a favorite concert that you’ve photographed recently?

Crawford: There’s been several I’ve loved, and for many different reasons. Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen at the Majestic was amazing. It was just the two of them on stage, and listening to them talk was just as special as listening to them sing. I felt like I was on the front porch with them.

The Foreigner show at the Majestic was also unbelievably good. I went to the show not really excited at all, thinking I’d shoot the first three songs and then I’d leave. I ended up staying for nearly the whole show – those guys rocked! The energy was palpable. It was just electric in there and so much fun.

But on a personal and up-close level, I guess my favorite would be the Cedric Burnside Project at Sam’s.

Cedric Burnside is considered blues royalty; he is the grandson of the late Mississippi blues master, R.L. Burnside. Photo by Annette Crawford/Courtesy Sam’s Burger Joint.

There’s just something about being so close to the stage, and really feeling the music inside of you. And Cedric is just about as nice a person as you could ever want to meet. He’s the grandson of the late Mississippi blues great, R.L. Burnside, so he grew up around the men who shaped the blues. The first time I saw him was about two years ago at Sam’s; in fact, I think it was one of the first shows I shot there. Then last year I saw him on a trip to New Orleans, and I asked him to please come back to San Antonio. As luck would have it, I got to introduce him on stage that night on Sam’s, and that had to be one of the biggest thrills of my life.

RR: Have you had the opportunity to meet any rock stars through your work that were particularly awesome or particularly disappointing?

Crawford: Honestly, I’m trying to think of a musician I met that was a disappointment and I can’t think of any. I could go on and on about the wonderful musicians I’ve met – Cedric of course, and Raul Malo, Flaco Jimenez, J.D. Souther, Al Stewart, Paul Thorn, Wendy Colonna, Seth Walker, Jimmie Vaughan … seriously, there are some wonderful people out there who make some beautiful music!

RR: You also have a personal blog at thegroovygringa.com – what inspires you to keep this blog?

Crawford: I’d been taking photos for a while, and I would post the photos to Facebook or the Sam’s Flickr page http://www.flickr.com/photos/samsburgerjoint.

The Space Needle is framed by a glass sculpture at the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit in Seattle. Photo by Annette Crawford.

For quite a while, I had thought about writing a blog but wasn’t sure what to write about. Then one day, an old high school friend wrote me and said, “It sure would be nice to read some concert reviews to go along with these photos of yours.” I guess the light finally came on and that was my “Aha” moment.

From there it evolved to various things in San Antonio that meant something to me, and then I blogged about trips I took, like New Orleans, Dallas and Seattle. I blog about stuff that makes me happy, I guess, and most of the time that’s music.

RR: Do you also do independent/freelance photography work?

Crawford: I’ve shot photos for various musicians, mainly publicity or for CDs. I was the official photographer for last year’s Jazz’SAlive weekend.

One of the most fun and rewarding projects I was involved with was with the Office of Historic Preservation. I got to photograph city leaders wearing temporary tattoos for the “The Power of Preservation” campaign.

Former San Antonio Mayor Lila Cockrell wears her temporary “Power of Preservation” tattoo in front of her beloved Japanese Tea Garden. Photo by Annette Crawford.

It was so cool to take photos of Mayor Julián Castro and former Mayors Phil Hardberger, Howard Peak and Lila Cockrell.

Really, I am the luckiest girl in the world.

The Rivard Report is always looking for local photographers to feature on our homepage gallery – it’s easy and we pay. Interested professionals and hobbyists with a compelling visual story to share are encouraged to contact Managing Editor Iris Dimmick, iris@rivardreport.com

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Annette Crawford

Annette Crawford is an Air Force veteran and has spent more than 30 years as a writer, editor, and public affairs officer. She is the house photographer at Sam’s Burger Joint & Music Hall.

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