Bill Frakes arrived on campus with over 49 cases of camera equipment this week. He was ready to visit with students and faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Frakes and his business partner, Laura Heald, interacted with several classes, viewed student portfolios, spoke with faculty groups and worked on two short films of their own.
Frakes is a Sports Illustrated staff photographer who has worked in all 50 states and more than 125 countries. He has already traveled 40,000 miles in this year alone. Frakes’ work has been published in virtually every general interest publication in the world. Together with Heald, they created Straw Hat Visuals, a media company that also works for Time Inc.
Frakes said Abilene was not what he expected it to be physically, but he was impressed by the quality of the ACU facilities and community.
“I was surprised at how well-funded and well-put together the photo studio is. It’s small but everything is top-drawer,” he said. “I’ve been to a lot bigger schools with a lot more resources that are not nearly as put together. ”
One of the projects Frakes and Heald worked on this week was a time-lapse video which they created with 15 students in an Honors colloquium on short films.
As a group, the photographers and the students headed out to Fort Griffin, a historic site about 45 miles outside of Abilene.
“Formally, what we were doing was light painting, but, really, what we were understanding was the creative boundaries of taking nothing and making it into something,” Frakes said on taking the students into the middle of an empty field.
Other agendas for their week included photo and video projects with the Leddy’s Boots, a company that makes handmade boots, and meeting with art majors about the state of the industry.
“There is a lot of collaboration here,” said Frakes. “The students and the faculty seem to know each other well.”
Heald said she had never been to Abilene before but it was exactly how she pictured the rest of Texas to be.
“It’s been fun, especially being with students who aren’t just photography students,” she said. “It’s been nice to interact with all the majors of different communication sectors.”
Asia Todd, junior multimedia major from Thailand, said that she enjoyed getting to work with and witness Frakes in action this week.
“I really loved the way he treated people,” said Todd. “I expected a professional like that to be super directive but he was more collaborative.”
Frakes and Heald ended their visit on Friday evening with a reception in the Shore Art Gallery. Students and faculty enjoyed refreshments, looked at some of the products of their week and continued conversations with the photographers.