Texas Heat: The Photos of Harris Mizrahi
Growing up in Brooklyn, Harris Mizrahi was always a fan of the arts, and the gift of a DSLR camera eventually led him to Drexel University in Philadelphia were he is now a junior studying photography and working on the early stages of a new photo series following a Muay Thai fighter as he prepares for his first professional fight. Milk Made called up Harris to talk about some of his favorite moments he’s captured in his short but promising career — from Texans packing heat in their underwear to chickens getting ready for lunch.
On West Texas:
“For the past couple of years I’ve had an itch to just get out there, I’m not really sure where that came from. I think it’s partly wanting to just be free of the city. But when I went out to Texas it was completely freeing, there was nothing I was thinking about besides taking photos.
"A photographer I worked for gave me a call and asked if I want to head out to West Texas with him. He had just picked me up from the airport and we were going back to where we were staying and on the dirt road on the side of the highway was this broken-down Chevy. We went over and helped the guy change his tire, talked to him for a bit. He told us a bit about his history, showed us some cool junk he had in his car — a Budweiser can of bullet holes shot through it that his friend had shot off his head. We help the guy change his tire, he took me a ride in his car and I was taking some photos of dirt roads of the side of the highway. He pulled over and asked if I wanted to see his gun. I looked in his trunk and checked it out and started taking some photos.”
On History of a Chicken:
“I was in Philly and I looked up a poultry slaughter place, I think it was on Fairmount Avenue. I had nothing to do on Sunday and decided that was something I wanted to try. They had bunnies, ducks, chickens, etc. and I asked how much a chicken was. It wasn’t too expensive, maybe $7. I told her OK, but I want to go in the back and take some photos while you guys kill it. The lady told me I was going to be scared. I assured I could stomach it and she let me back there. The slaughter area was in the back, they would slit the throats and bleed them, flash boil them and then put them in that spinning thing that looks like a tornado and then they would come out naked. After 10 minutes the man who owned the place had enough of me and asked me to leave.”
On West Philly:
“I was living in that neighborhood for about a year and all the photos were taken only a couple of blocks from me. It’s a neighborhood where there are always people on the street so there’s always someone to photograph. A bunch of those photos ended up being of one family. I become friends with them and then revisited them a bunch of times. For the most part it was a receptive endeavor with a couple of threats here and there.
A lot of the pictures are of children, I guess, because they’re active, there’s a lot of energy going on in the scenes of kids. Like the two kids playing basketball, the milk crate piece. But for some reason, I got yelled at by this group of guys. I took a picture of a scene of people and there were a couple of kids hanging around, I guess, and they started calling me a pedophile, and these eight dudes were about to kick my ass. Eventually I talked reason into one of them and everything worked out alright. That wasn’t happening every day though. But for the most part, people were really receptive or didn’t care, but every now and then you get a little bit of drama.”