That’s quite a bulky title to carry around, but the 60-year-old laughs it off.
“I never set out to achieve anything that’s happened to me,” Meinzer said. “It’s always been a case of someone else recognizing the love I had for the art.”
At noon today, Meinzer will receive some further recognition. The Frontier Times Museum in Bandera is inducting Meinzer into its Texas Heroes Hall of Honor.
It’s a designation reserved for “remarkable individuals and wondrous characters who, through their leadership, creativity, example and hard work, keep the pioneer spirit alive and help keep Texas, Texan.”
That description isn’t selling this year’s class short. It includes the consistently outrageous fringe politician Kinky Friedman, Houston Livestock Show mastermind Louis Pearce, highly decorated Bandera cowboy Scooter Fries, and the late rodeo legend Toots Mansfield.
Meinzer says he’s still trying to digest the “tremendous honor.”
But his work speaks for itself: 20 photography books, 250 magazine cover credits and a whole cupboard’s worth of awards.
Not bad for a guy who started out studying wildlife biology at Texas Tech University.
Meinzer, who grew up in a ranching family, got his first real camera for a class assignment. He used a 35 mm shooter to collect data on wild species.
As soon as he had to hand it back to the professor, he went out and bought another one.
From there, it was a career of trial and error. But what kept Meinzer questing for just the right shot, with just the right light, was an abiding love for his home state.
“You can never see it all,” Meinzer said. “Even after 30 years, wherever I travel I see something new.”
But seeing something new is the name of the game. Meinzer claims that he’s “never left a footprint” on the trails at Big Bend National Park. Why go there to shoot, after all, when that landscape has been so well-documented?
The greater challenge, Meinzer says, lies in the unknown.
“I’d rather go out to places that are less-seen, if they’ve been seen at all,” Meinzer said.