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On the Road with Texas Highways

Book presents Texas through the lens of J. Griffis Smith
Written by E. Dan Klepper. Photographs by J. Griffis Smith.

46 47 Barbadilla

The duty as well as the pleasure of Texas Highways’ photography is to guide you to the small and silent, as well as the big and bold, and then suggest what your own experience might be like.

Grab a copy for yourself or as a gift through the Texas Highways Gift Shop.

Get information on photo exhibits and book-signings with Griff Smith in Huntsville, Caldwell, and Waco.

As recently retired Photography Editor Griff Smith explains: “My goal as a photographer for Texas Highways is to make the scene come alive and appear three-dimensional to the readers, as if the readers were there with me experiencing the feeling of the textures and the depth of the space. When I’m shooting, I use creative composition and lighting to build a romance about the subject and try to capture the emotions and personalities I see in the people and places I’m shooting.”

Oct BCGriff joined the Texas Department of Transportation more than thirty years ago, often serving as contributing photographer for the magazine before becoming the magazine’s photography editor in 2008. When it comes to the mission of the magazine—to inspire travel in the state—Griff’s singularity remains steadfast after three decades at work, not all that surprising for someone who’s been photographing for most of his life and much of it for Texas Highways.

“The reader is not there with us when we take that photograph,” Griff explains. “So the photograph has to tell the story and compel the reader to want to know more, no matter what the subject is, whether it’s food or a portrait or a place. As a photographer shooting for Texas Highways, you want to capture that feeling.”

Griff has logged thousands of miles for the magazine, not to mention the thousands of images he has taken for it along the way. “One of the things I love most about my job is the access to the most unusual places in Texas,” Griff confesses. Courthouse cupolas, backstage dressing rooms, historic attics, museum collections, lighthouse stairwells, railroad cabooses, drive-in projection booths, ghost towns, diners, and dance halls: Griff, it would seem, has photographed them all.

SRV Statue on Lady Bird LakeWhatever photography means to you, above all else it’s a chronicler of our time, at least in the way we see it through the perspective of a frame and a lens. Its technology has played a major role in determining how we appear through the years, from the foggy gum bichromate prints of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to the megapixel clarity of the twenty-first. As you thumb through the editorial photographs in the book’s pages, you’ll see not only some of the magazine’s best work but likely a documentation of our time as Texans over the past few decades.

Like Technicolor in the age of film, in “every period a particular process emerges,” art historian and critic Gabriel Bauret reminds us, “becoming the colors of an age.”

Welcome to the color of ours.

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