In 25 degree weather, a photographer bares the winter to catch the steamy San Marcos River right at sunrise, snapping one of many photos with color and dimension.
Andy Heatwole, San Marcos native, has captured the beauty of San Marcos, one photo at a time. Over the years, he has gained popularity for his website and social media pages: SMTX Photos.
Heatwole’s expertise lies in photographing the nature and landscape of San Marcos. He challenges himself to capture parts of the town in different and unique ways.
There are millions of beautiful pictures, but Heatwole snaps photographs based on the emotional connections to certain places. He said a picture becomes art when someone can make an emotional connection to his photos. He wants to translate what he is feeling to his audience.
“I’m not very creative, but photography is my creative outlet,” Heatwole said. “When I’m shooting, there are no other worries and it gives me a chance to get out in nature and experience things I wouldn’t otherwise.”
As a child, Heatwole found little interest in photography. Once he was older, he came across a website dedicated to night photography and started using a manual film camera he was given. The manual camera allowed him to learn how to maneuver his shots before using a digital camera.
Heatwole fell into commercial work and earned his first job with Windsor Communities. From there, he left his full-time job to pursue photography in 2007. However, he became burned out quickly and soon arrived at a point where he did not want to shoot unless he was getting paid.
In 2011, he got a full-time job at McCoy’s Building Supplies, but continued to take photos in his free time. Often, he captured the sunrise and sunset on his way to and from work.
Christopher Cardoza, a San Marcos photographer, said he admires Heatwole’s work and he appreciates that Heatwole gets to pursue his passion.
“(Heatwole) is a colorful person,” Cardoza said. “His images capture a spectrum of colors. He brings out a radiance in his photography that is unmatched by anyone else, and he creates something that is memorable and pulls you into the picture.”
Heatwole still does commercial work. Businesses may ask him to display his photography in their buildings. Heatwole said he has very tight control of who can use his photos because he does not want his work associated with just anyone or anything.
Heatwole has worked in multiple realms of photography like portraits, but his interests stay in landscape work.
Preslie Cox, a Baytown Sun photographer and lifestyle editor, was a fan of Heatwole’s work and just happened to meet him at Rio Vista by accident. Prior to meeting him, she analyzed his shots on Instagram to see how she could get similar photos.
Cox said she learned a lot about how to shoot in nature through Heatwole.
“He has a way of showing such a small town in such a beautiful way,” Cox said. “He has a really good eye for color and composition.”
The City of San Marcos awarded Heatwole a tourism award for capturing the beauty of the town and helping to promote tourism.
While Heatwole enjoys San Marcos and its beauty, he hopes to become a full-time photographer again and travel to different parts of the world, like Norway, to capture the Northern Lights.
Heatwole said photography is a big part of his life and identity. His photos will continue to display the essence of San Marcos for years to come.
His work and contact information can be found at smtxphotos.com.