Jef Russell is a small-town Texas born photographer. With the intentions of exploring and experiencing the world, Jef left Texas in his rear view mirror and headed to NYC. After graduating New York University, Jef went to peruse a movie career in Los Angeles.
Jef said New York and Los Angeles were everything Texas was not: sexy, progressive, new-aged, and cool. It wasn't until later Jef would realize he could find a spark of inspiration of something back in Texas that had its own sense of cool.
Here is what Jef has to say about "Rebirth of Cool":
"‘Cool’ and Texas don’t usually go together, but if someone was pressed to think of something cool in Texas, they’d probably think of Austin and its Austin City Limits Festival, F1 races, live music, and food trailers. But in my opinion, the coolest part of Texas actually extends in a 60-mile radius around Austin; in a part of Texas known as Hill Country. This is where you’ll find towns such as Buda, Bastrop, Dripping Springs, Llano, and Marble Falls. It’s also where you’ll find me most Summer nights photographing a ritual of-sort; one that is old-fashioned, blue-collar, and exhilarating: the small-town Texas rodeo.
My hope is that these pictures highlight the adventure and spectacle that make the small-town rodeo a rebirth of cool. And this is important because the rodeo is much more than a simple series of cowboy events. It’s about a spirit that propels men and women to ride bulls and hang onto mustangs. It’s a spirit that gives credibility to lives spent raising cattle and farming land. These men and woman don’t pledge a life-long allegiance to a corporation, they pledge their allegiance to a way of life. That’s a spirit I tried to capture in these pictures and it’s something that I find incredibly cool."