Caprock Canyons State Park/Facebook

The 5 best Texas state parks to visit in 2017: Can anyone say road trip?

Texas Travel Bucket List

The new year is a time for self-reflection, renewal, and determining your travel bucket list. After all, there’s no better time to contemplate the places you want to explore in the coming year. And, luckily, there are incredible parks throughout the Lone Star State that are perfect for a road trip. Check out our picks for the top Texas state parks to visit in 2017.

Balmorhea State Park
There’s something special about bathing in a giant pool smack-dab in the middle of the desert. From Houston, travel west for around hours and you can swim or even scuba dive in Balmorhea’s cool blue waters — the world’s largest spring-fed pool, in fact.

Pro tip: Cross two parks off your list by staying at the Indian Lodge in Davis Mountains State Park. The Indian Lodge is truly a West Texas treasure, with its stark white adobe walls and scenic views of the park.

Big Bend Ranch State Park
Sure, Big Bend National Park is glorious, but don’t forego Big Bend Ranch State Park in far West Texas on the U.S.-Mexico border. There are 238 miles of incredible trails and sights to see here. From rocky canyons and breathtaking mountain vistas to otherworldly desert landscapes, this park pretty much has it all.

Pro tip: Go in the springtime, when the area is ablaze with wildflowers and temperatures are comfy.

Caprock Canyons State Park
Caprock Canyons, located eight-and-a-half hours northwest of Houston near Amarillo, often gets passed up in favor of the showier Palo Duro Canyon, but this is precisely why you should consider going. It’s less developed, more remote, and boasts marvelous views and miles of ruby red canyons.

Pro tip: Come prepared with food and a full gas tank.

Colorado Bend State Park
With its lush green scenery and majestic waterfalls, Colorado Bend, located west of Lampasas and southeast of San Saba, is a unique addition to the scrubby Texas Hill Country. About a four-hour drive from Houston, this is one of the most special spots in the state. There are plenty of trails here, but don’t skip the hike to Gorman Falls, a gorgeous 65-foot waterfall surrounded by so much bright green vegetation you may think you somehow landed in Oregon.

Pro tip: Avoid the crowds by camping at nearby Sulphur Springs campground, where you can score a spot right on the picturesque Colorado River.

Garner State Park
If you’re seeking the quintessential Texas state park experience, Garner, located near Uvalde, around four hours west of Houston, should be your go-to destination. Whether you’re looking to tube down the cold waters of the Frio River, go fishing, or hike some of the most verdant land in the state, this park has a little something for everyone. Don’t forget to trek up Old Baldy Hill for spectacular views of the surrounding area.

Pro tip: Head to Garner in the summer when the park hosts its famed old-timey jukebox dance.

Caprock Canyons boasts marvelous views and miles of ruby red canyons.

Caprock Canyons State Park Texas Parks and Widlife
Caprock Canyons State Park/Facebook
Caprock Canyons boasts marvelous views and miles of ruby red canyons.
Courtesy Photo

High Intensity Pilates adds calorie-burning cardio to stretch workout

HIP Fitness

Editor's Note: We asked our CultureMap staff to try some of the latest workout classes and report back. Here's our first report.

While we are all in full swing of bringing the mantra “New Year, New You” into reality, we are searching for the latest and greatest ways to keep ourselves fit and add a little variety into our workout routine. I decided to give HIP Fitness (High Intensity Pilates) a try. For months I have been hearing the buzz on this new Pilates method that is hitting the Houston workout scene. As a beginner, I was obviously skeptical about experiencing this level of intensity. But the small class size allowed the instructor to pay close attention to my clueless and very unskilled self.

What is HIP Fitness

In just 45 minutes, HIP will take you through heart-pumping exercises on the Megaformer 3,M3 Pilates machine. The movements are slow and controlled, but you transition to the next movement quickly which kick starts the cardio element of the workout. If you want to combine cardio with major strength training this is class for you.

Created by celebrity trainer Sebastien Lagree, this method promises to burn up to 700 calories in one session. Unlike traditional Pilates reformers, the special Megaformer 3, M3 that Lagree designed offers constant tension but is still easy on the joints and promotes flexibility. The program can be modified by adjusting resistance and position to tailor it to each client’s specific needs. With these machines, the possibilities and combinations of moves are endless, which can make each class seem new and avoid any monotony that we all suffer from in our workout routine. The class went by fast and had an upbeat vibe with the fun, loud music played.

Where to find it

HIP Fitness now has two locations in Houston. The West University location (2294 West Holcombe Boulevard) and the brand new River Oaks studio (2400 Mid Lane, Suite 330) each have only 10 Megaformer machines to ensure an intimate class setting so that each client gets one-on-one training from the instructors. A single session is $35, with various priced packages on multiple classes, but first-time clients get the $15 single session special. Beginners to professional athletes like Houston Rockets player Trevor Ariza frequent the studios.

The Benefits

The best part about HIP Fitness, besides the fact that my entire body was sore the next day, is that the exercises target muscles I didn’t even know I had, but still encourage flexibility and lengthening of the body. Get ready for a body shaking, high intensity session that is definitely hard at first. You will leave knowing you had a full body workout and be ready to face the rest of 2017. Don’t let the soreness or the fast paced class scare you away. As they say — sore today, strong tomorrow!

Time to clean out your closet: What to get rid of and what to keep to create the perfect winter wardrobe

Style Tips

"As we move into a new season it is imperative to start de-cluttering your old wardrobe in an effort to get organized," says fashion stylist Ashley Hargrove. "While most people cringe at the thought of cleaning out their closets and moving things around when the weather starts changing, it is helpful to begin with a list of things to keep, buy, and lose."

CultureMap caught up with the Austin style maven, who was recently named one of Southern Living's fashion Instagrams to follow now, to get some tips on updating your wardrobe for the winter season.

Five to keep
Basics, basics, basics. Never forget these words. Whether you are shopping in your closet or at the store, always begin with the basics. Basics are investment pieces that defy trends and will never go out of style. These are the top five basics to build your winter wardrobe around this season:

1. Black leather jacket

2. A nice trench or wool coat

3. Leather boots or booties

4. Cashmere sweaters in solid colors

5. A classic handbag that will last you season to season

Five tips for refining your wardrobe
Once you have the items on this list in place it's easy to see what needs to go.

1. Always check your wool and cashmere pieces. Most people never check the items that they rarely wear or that were stored in tubs for months. Keep an eye out for pilling and holes in sweaters.

2. Try on all of your jeans and leggings. People tend to gain or lose weight when the seasons change. Most people stockpile their jeans and rarely try them on. I suggest keeping three to five pairs of great fitting jeans for winter.

3. If you have been storing sweaters in a tub or on hangers in a closet, be sure to check the fabric condition. Does it have hanger dimples? Does the elastic in the fabric still hold up or does it stretch out and stay stretched out?

4. Check your boots and make sure they are still in style. Most people aren't buying nice boots every season so they wear the same pair and styles year after year. Take a look at the style and the heels. If they are originals from a former decade, toss ‘em and buy a new pair!

5. Costume jewelry. This is something all of us are guilty of hoarding, but now is the time to toss some. What are the signs that you need to send pieces packing? Have you worn it in six to 12 months? If you answered no, toss it. Is it tarnishing? Do your hands smell after you touch it? Is it turning your skin colors? If you answered yes to the last three questions, it is time to go. There is no need to keep a collection of cheap jewelry, and replacing it with current looks is one of the least expensive ways to update your look. This is one area where you can go trendy without breaking the bank.

Photo courtesy of Epicurean Group

This Houston company has managed to make meals healthy, delicious, and easy

Healthy You

Was one of your New Year's resolutions to eat healthier? Despite best intentions, following through on that vow is not always as easy as you'd like — unless someone else is doing the cooking.

Enter Epicurean Group, which prepares fresh and great-tasting meals that manage to hit all the major health-conscious must-haves. Even better, they deliver. That means suddenly your refrigerator is stocked with a sensible yet tasty menu for the upcoming work week, and you didn't have to lift a teaspoon.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and à la carte options are all available, and the menus change weekly. Think apricot pork tender, beef bourguignon, shepherd's pie, fig preserve and prosciutto pizza, to name a few.

With over 20 years in the local food business, founder and owner Patti Ramsey has built her career providing fine foods for discerning tastes. So whether you're drawn to traditional comfort food or exotic delicacies, the end result will surely be delicious.

But back to that whole healthy thing. Each week’s menu is low to moderate in sodium, typically under 30 percent fat, high in fiber, and seasoned to perfection. The food contains three to five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables, and is clean, local, and unprocessed (no additives, preservatives, or HFCS). There are vegetarian, heart conscious, diabetic friendly, and gluten-free options.

To make life even easier, Weight Watchers points are already calculated for you, and meals are designated at two different portion sizes: 1,200 and 1,800, which keep you on those calorie targets with three meals a day.

Browse the available meals at Epicurean Group's website, then make sure to have your orders in by 10 am Friday morning. That next Monday morning, either swing by Epicurean Group's office in River Oaks off Memorial or await delivery to your door. Then enjoy, knowing that you're doing your schedule and your waistline a favor.

Salmon with grilled vegetables.

Salmon with grilled vegetables
Photo courtesy of Epicurean Group
Salmon with grilled vegetables.
Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Beyoncé reigns supreme with Megan Thee Stallion cameo in jaw-dropping Houston Renaissance Tour opening night

bey run the world

How much does Beyoncé love Houston? Enough to turn the first of her two-night H-Town concert tour stop into an all-out and unforgettable celebration of her fans, friends, and her beloved hometown.

Late Saturday September 24 at NRG Stadium, Queen Bey proved once again that she rules all in a night boasting a Megan Thee Stallion cameo, fellow native Houstonians Lizzo and original, founding Destiny’s Child members in the crowd, and a three-hour, jaw-dropping, sometimes breathtaking journey.

Houston’s love for their queen was so palpable on Saturday, September 24 at NRG Stadium that even the usually grouchy traffic cops became hype men. “I can’t hear you: who’s ready to see Beyoncé!?” bellowed a middle-aged traffic Metro officer.

The crowd entering NRG formed a sea of sparkling sequins, silver cowboy hats, and silver boots, per Beyoncé’s request for silver or shiny looks for her worldwide Renaissance Tour stops. It was as much a fashion show as a concert: sequin dresses, denim skirts, mesh tanks, fringe masks, bootie-revealing shirts, and high heels on Beyhive members of every gender and age. Beyoncé didn’t need an opening act: the spontaneous singalongs made for the perfect pre-party.

After a giddy wait, Beyoncé rose from under the stage, positively resplendent in a black polka-dot dress, pearls, and white gloves as wind blew through her blonde locks. Opening with the dramatic “Dangerously in Love 2” from the album that launched her career, she held long, drawn-out notes as the band went silent, reminding all that she’s more than an icon, she’s a supremely talented vocalist.

“H-Town, it's goin’ down...”

Flashing her million-dollar grin, the queen decreed, “Oh tonight, H-Town, it's goin’ down,” for the homecoming. “Thank you for your love and loyalty. This is my gratitude tour. I’m so grateful to be on this stage, back home in Houston, Texas.”

“I can travel to any country around the world, but you ain’t ever gonna take the country out of this girl. I represent y’all everywhere I go, and I wanna make you proud.”

She breathlessly went through “1+1” while kicking up a leg and sitting atop a piano. She rose and strutted across the long catwalk into the packed floor for “I Care,” and channeled Tina Turner in “River Deep - Mountain High,” which she dedicated to Turner, her “idol.”

A dazzling video interlude took viewers into a Sci-Fi journey of chrome mazes and robots riding rockets. When “RENAISSANCE” popped on the scream, the crowd shrieked as Beyoncé remerged, standing with her fist up in a shimmering silver catsuit, sunglasses, and tall boots, going into “I’m That Girl,” “Cozy” and the spacey “Alien Superstar” from the Renaissance album.

This wasn’t a typical show where fans sang back to classics and stayed silent during new material: fans sang back every lyric to every song, regardless of era. No surprise that NRG rocked when she broke in “Crazy in Love,” her 2003 hook-filled announcement to the world with (now) husband Jay-Z, and the ultimate girl powered “Run the World (Girls).”

It should cost a billion for these fits

And the costumes, oh, the costumes. In each sonic journey, Beyoncé emerged in radiant shine, camouflage, and even a flame-adorned cowboy hat. Nowhere is her “PURE/HONEY” lyric, “It should cost a billion to look this good,” more fitting than with these show-stopping fits.

Our Behyive was also treated to a “Thique,” “All Up In Your Mind,” and “Drunk in Love,” — fans and critics have tracked that Beyoncé has only performed those three songs four times on this tour.

Like a Method actress working through various roles, Beyoncé channeled a forlorn lover, a fierce empress (especially in “Break My Soul”), a sexy siren, an android goddess — she emerged from a robotic costume “case” that mechanically opened for her — and even a towering, metallic queen bee (see what she did there) TV anchor in “America Has A Problem.”

When she bellowed “I told you I’m a f*cking problem,” in “All Up in Your Mind,” she evoked screams of affirmation. When the gifted singer screamed into the mic — a throat killer for vocalists on tour — and went back into her flawless tones and surging, almost operatic vibrato, Beyoncé reminded that she’s a multi-faceted, complex, self-actualized woman and not just a mere brand.

Megan Thee Stallion and Blue Ivy, y'all

And she’s a proud mother who couldn’t hold back her glee when her daughter Blue Ivy came onstage, seeming almost shocked by the crowd roar. Blue Ivy flashed a heart-hands symbol and popped into dance moves as her mom cheered her on.

The proud mom also cheered on a fellow Houston native and pop superstar Megan Thee Stallion, who bounced onstage for a savage cameo in “Savage Remix.” Spitting rhymes, strutting, and flexing her signature dance moves, Megan waved to fans and paid homage to the queen, squealing “I love you, Beyoncé!” and spinning on the catwalk.

Breathtaking sounds and sights

Rarely has three hours passed so quickly, thanks to bumping video and music interludes, which turned NRG into a club. Cinematic imagery rivaled any movie, and the band’s solo chops — especially on guitar, bass, and drum — made for its own show. Her backup singers alone, who dropped a song in a break, could also be their own act

Dance has always been an integral part of a Beyoncé performance, led by Beyoncé herself, who’s as limber as a gymnast, and her awe-inspiring dancers like Les Twins — who mixed dance with Cirque du Soleil acrobatics — and the vamping, voguing diva Honey Balenciaga.

Owning the stage with the swagger of a champion, Beyoncé displayed the theatricality and edginess of Lady GaGa, the irresistible charm of Taylor Swift, and the ageless physical prowess of Jennifer Lopez. It’s mind-boggling that at 42, Beyoncé looks, moves, and sounds nearly half her age — but with grown-woman mastery.

All hail Queen Bey

In a blink, it was 12:30 am, and the the queen mounted the silvery disco horse — fans call it Reneigh — and soared over the crowd for “Summer Renaissance.”

“No matter where I go, I always keep Houston with me,” she told the screaming, weeping crowd,” like a fairy godmother floating away. “I will always rep for Houston.”

With one NRG Stadium show left on Sunday, September 24, fans from around the country have scored tickets. “I just knew Houston would be different,” a fan told us afterwards, who flew in from Washington, D.C. “I just knew it would be special.”

What better proof that pop’s reigning and undisputed queen will always rep for Houston.

Beyonc\u00e9 Renaissance Tour Houston NRG Stadium 2023

Photo courtesy of LiveNation/Beyoncé

Return of the Queen: Beyoncé was back in fierce form.

Favorite Montrose brunch restaurant's major setback leads week's top stories

this week's hot headlines

Editor's note: It's time to recap the top stories on CultureMap from this past week.

1. Favorite Montrose brunch restaurant's highly anticipated return hits setback. The restaurant's reopening has been pushed back to 2024.

2. Houston's newest soup dumpling house sets opening date in familiar Midtown space. We're looking forward to future dumpling crawls to decide on our favorite.

3. Houston pizza maestro retools his wildly successful new Heights restaurant after overwhelming response. The chef says he'd be a "supervillain" if he figured out how to meet so much demand in such a short amount of time.

4. New York Times names 2 must-try Houston eateries to coveted 50 most exciting restaurants list. A new Southern restaurant and a classic Mexican establishment made the list.

5. Ken Hoffman applauds new Texas law that fines service animal impersonators $1K. "As much as I love my dog, I don’t impose her on others," our columnist writes.

Mega-celebrity photographer of Beyoncé's all-time favorite portrait holds court in Houston to honor Queen Bey

royal portraits

Only a select few humans — ever — have been photographed as often as pop culture’s undisputed queen, Beyoncé, over her illustrious, 26-year career. Even at her young age, Houston’s queen possesses a singular trait that elevates her above even the most apex celebrities: immortality.

Just how do the ultra-famous unlock the loftiest achievement of immortality? For many, it’s often through a single, transcendent photograph, which can transform a performer into an icon — and rocket a mere mortal into immortal status. And few photographers on the planet can bestow immortality on the globally famous like A-list artisan Markus Klinko.

To celebrate Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour homecoming — and his now legendary photos of her over the years — Klinko will meet fans from 1 pm to 3 pm Saturday, September 23 at Tootsies for a showcase of some of his most famed works — including the ultra-rare Beyoncé “Diamond Dust” series, on view at Nicole Longnecker Gallery.

A statuesque, towering presence (he’s six-foot-four) with chiseled features and a flair for fashion, the Swiss-born Klinko looks every part a celeb himself. That star quality has no doubt helped him break the ice when photographing superstars like our Beyoncé, David Bowie, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Will Smith, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Kanye West, Anne Hathaway, Kate Winslet, Naomi Campbell, and Iman — to name a few. Not a bad resume for a former professional classical harp soloist who — sort of amazingly — only fell into photography after a hand injury (more on that later).

Before she became a one-word brand, Beyoncé Knowles was just 22 when she experienced Klinko’s wizardry firsthand in 2003. Already drawing It Girl attention as a member of Destiny’s Child, the young Houstonian had met Klinko during a Destiny’s Child photo shoot for Vibe magazine in 2000. With his trademark, sixth-sense for superstardom, Klinko pointed to Beyoncé while she was lounging with the group and told her mother, Tina Knowles, “Her, she’s going to be huge.” Tina’s response: “We know.”

Three years later, Sony reunited Beyoncé and Klinko to shoot the cover of Dangerously in Love, Beyoncé’s now legendary 2003 debut solo album. The match, now, seems predestined: both Beyoncé and Knowles were in the early stages of their careers. Beyoncé and Klinko vibed immediately, and in a simple snap of his Fuji camera, Klinko shot the stunning and shimmering photo that Queen Bey recently told French newspaper Le Figaro is her most favorite of any portrait taken of her.

Staying true to his organic, in-the-moment approach, Klinko flawlessly captured Beyoncé’s effortless pose in her now-famed diamond top and created one of music’s most iconic celebrity photos and yes, helped cement Beyoncé’s immortal status. And it only cost him his pants. (More on that later, too.)

CultureMap caught up with Klinko ahead of his Houston appearance and fresh off the opening of his latest installation: His celebrity images are on display at the legendary Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino in, naturally, the vaunted Elvis Presley Suite. Perfect timing, then, for Klinko to star as a cover model in the familiar Tootsies window displays.

CultureMap: Congratulations on landing the Tootsies window display. It looks gorgeous.

Markus Klinko: Oh yeah, it’s spectacular, isn’t it?

CM: Quite! So, what’s it like seeing yourself as one of the main features of an exhibit — as opposed to being behind the camera?

MK: You know, I’ve never been in the window of a major fashion department store, so this is pretty fun.

CM: Never in the window, but you’ve certainly been the focal point of attention as an acclaimed harpist.

MK: Yes, I started my life on the ‘other’ side, and as you say, as a classical concert harpist. I was signed to EMI Classics and represented by Colombia Artists and traveling around the world making recordings. I was on television very often and on magazine covers and all that throughout my 20s and early 30s — everything from Italian Vogue and Vanity Fair and Harper’s Bazaar and GQ and all those fashion magazines for which I later worked as a photographer. So it’s not completely. new. But this is sort of a different twist.

CM: You clearly had an understanding of being in the spotlight, and the butterflies-in-the-stomach pressure to put on a great performance and give of yourself to an audience. Did that experience help you relate to your celebrity performer subjects in a way that just maybe a Mark Seliger or an Annie Leibovitz — not disparaging either — could not? Do you have a window into these performers’ worlds where they relate to you, and you to them?

MK: You know, that’s an amazing question and I’m glad you’re asking me this.

I switched from my classical music career, which was very successful at that time, to becoming a photographer at 33 under dramatic circumstances. It was tragic; basically a hand injury forced me to abandon my career at the height of my success in the summer of 1994.

I was forced to cancel recording sessions, touring engagements and all of that. I had no clue where my income would be coming from, so it was not like the happiest moment in my life. It was actually sort of a panic-stricken time.

CM: And then came the moment.

MK: Yes, I had this epiphany that I will become a fashion photographer, actually had no intention at all to ever become a celebrity photographer. In the beginning of my photo career, I was 100-percent interested only in shooting models — mainly female models to be honest. I would have liked to be a Playboy magazine photographer or something.

So in other words, I just wanted to have fun. It was the last thought on my mind to help other musicians succeed.

CM: You almost seem like you were dragged into fashion and celebrity photography.

MK: A few years into my photo career, around 1999, I was still completely focused on shooting models, models, models. I wasconfronted with proposals from record labels and magazines to shoot covers for them. And I distinctly remember telling my agent at the time that I was not interested and that why would I shoot musicians, when I could just shoot models who are more beautiful in general. And that was that.

CM: And how did that go over?

MK: At some point my agent picked up the phone and screamed at me and said, ‘Markus, you’re an idiot! We have record companies wanting to pay you $100,000 a day and you would rather shoot some girl.’ And I said, ‘Okay, fine, I’ll try it.’ My first record cover shoot was Vitamin C; at that moment she had the biggest hit of the year.

I asked my friends from Interview magazine to style it and she was lovely and I had no problem with it. But about a month later, I got up in the morning and I went to the gym. As I walked through the streets of New York, there were thousands and thousands of posters of Vitamin. I saw my image of Vitamin C a million times on the way to the gym. And I was like, ‘Hmm, that’s not so bad.’

A couple of months later, GQ called me from the UK and wanted me to shoot these different celebrities. And I told GQ — it was very funny — I said under one condition, I’ll shoot the celebrity you want me to shoot, but I want you to let me shoot some nude girl for the centerfold of GQ. And they just said, ‘Okay, whatever you want.’ So I invented the GQ Pin Up 2000 and for a whole year as a reward of shooting some British pop star girl for them — who I couldn’t care less but whatever, I did it. But then I shot Little Kim and Molly Sims and a bunch of really big models and supermodels.

CM: And then you shoot the world’s biggest supermodel, Iman, for her book, which leads to shooting a rock god David Bowie — her husband — for his now-famous album cover [Heathens, 2002] in 2001. Talk about a word-of-mouth reference.

MK: By that time, I was already inundated with. requests from labels. I shot nonstop for different labels and then Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Lopez. That all came as a reaction basically to that first celebrity shoot with Vitamin C, and I guess just my style. The way I shot models was very different from what was in fashion at the time. I just sort of did my own thing. And that really appealed to major advertising record covers, iconic photo shoots, big comeback shoots for artists like Mariah. Mariah really needed a big comeback shoot in 2005 when she launched The Emancipation of Mimi.

CM: Let’s go back to that magical moment in 2003 when you shot perhaps the most legendary photo of Beyoncé ever.

MK: Sony music called me and they said, 'Beyonce from Destiny’s Child is going solo and she requested you shoot her album cover. Apparently, you had worked with her before for Destiny’s Child and she wanted to only work with you for this.'

So then, Sony Music organized a phone call between me, Beyoncé, the Sony team, and her mom Tina [Knowles] who was styling it. Beyoncé on the phone mentioned specifically my photograph of Leticia Costa, the French supermodel and actor in the "Spider Web" shot. And she said she really loved that photo — She called it the Diamond Spider or something. And she said she would love something like that, but smaller on her. And to be honest, I had no idea what that meant, but I was just like, 'Okay.'

Fast forward to a week later when the photo shoot actually happened and they arrived in the morning. I noticed that there was this diamond top and I grabbed it and I went up to Beyoncé. I said, 'This is exactly what you were talking about. We could do this.' And then she said, 'Oh yeah, I was thinking about it, but my mom has these skirts and I don’t wanna wear those because it reminds me of a prom and I don’t wanna look like a prom on my album cover.'

And I said, 'Yeah, of course not. Let’s do it with denim.' And then Beyonce said, 'No, we don’t have any, we didn’t bring any denim.'

CM: And then...?

MK: And so I said, 'Oh, don’t worry, maybe you’ll fit into mine.' And she said, 'Oh, really? Can I try them?' And so that’s the story.

CM: I’m guessing you had another pair handy?

MK: Oh, sure, I just grabbed another pair from upstairs I had. You know, back then and until now, my favorite pair of jeans are always DNG — Dolce & Gabbana.

CM: I love the story of how she returned them to you.

MK: She brought them back a couple months later. She had dry cleaned them and she packed them into some sort silk paper thing and a ribbon. She brought him back and said, 'Please don’t sell them on eBay, ever.' And she laughed.

I thought that was really sweet and I just took them and I put them somewhere. This is crazy, but I’m actually talking to Botswana Diamond Dealers to fill up a bathtub at the Vegas suite and to put those Beyoncé jeans into the bling bathtub as a joke. You know, almost as a shrine.

CM: Markus, it certainly seems to me that right when you looked through the viewer and fired off that exposure, she went from Beyoncé Knowles from Houston, Texas to the immoral global brand all in one second.

MK: You are right, yes. Absolutely she did. I had a jolt in my, in my whole body when that moment happened. And I told her that right then as soon as I clicked that shot. I said, 'We got the cover, you’ll see.' There's alternate shots of that, which are all beautiful, and some of them will be in Houston.

CM: It seems you predicted her future while announcing her to the world. Is that fair to say?

MK: Well, the way I see it is with that image, I sort of anticipated who Beyoncé was going to become. I think that my job that day was to take a young girl from Houston, Texas, a member of an R&B group, and present to the world who she will be. And she would have become that regardless of whatever I did photographically, because she’s such an enormous, enormously talented musician and performer and icon. She’s a great actress. But, my opportunity was to showcase to the world quickly and immediately who she will be. And so that’s what I’m proud of.

CM: You have shot countless celebrity portraits — many the most memorable of said celebrity, like Britney Spears. How does it feel to hear that your 2003 shot is Queen Bey’s favorite of all time?

MK: The fact that Beyoncé is probably the biggest celebrity in the world today, and having photographed the most famous photo — of the most famous celebrity — is an honor that I take with great humility. I’m not saying that to show off — I’m saying that to thank God for the opportunity. I am glad that Beyoncé loves the photo so much. I’m glad that the world recognizes it as her most famous photo: It's been said many, many times that it is the most recognizable Beyoncé photo. So I'm very honored that people feel that way about it.

CM: What do you remember of the Beyoncé then, and the Beyoncé you've worked with since for other projects?

MK: I remember Beyoncé and being around her, seeing her as an extremely kind, very humble, very normal person. I’ve never felt any sort of diva behavior from her. Beyoncé was just really, really nice and normal. And she’s extremely hardworking, obviously extremely talented, not just with music and singing and acting, but also in the process of collaboration of a visual product such as these photographs I’ve done with her. She’s a very, very good collaborator.

There are people who are very famous, especially actors who sometimes, in front of the still camera, feel awkward. Sometimes comedians and actors need the movement, the momentum, the storytelling, the words in order to showcase their brilliance and their talent.

Not everyone is able in a 2/50th of a second to express all of that, but Beyoncé certainly has that incredible ability and I think that’s innate and subconscious and subliminal. She just knows where the light is coming from and she knows how to position it all in the most phenomenal way. And I guess I subliminally know how to catch it. So it’s really one of those very, very easy collaborations.

CM: Speaking of collaborations, you are able to crystallize a pop icon’s entire era in a single exposure unlike perhaps anyone I’ve ever seen. Did you know that Beyoncé, Megan Thee Stallion, and Lizzo are all from Houston — they all grew up just a mere 30 minutes from each other.

MK: Wow, I did not know that.

CM: Yes, we’re home to three of the biggest female pop stars in the world. So I wonder: Megan Thee Stallion is truly in the midst of her moment. Is she someone you’d like to shoot next?

MK: Well, let me answer it this way...I hope that Megan reads your interview, because I absolutely love Megan and I would love to work with her — and they should call me. I love her.

CM: I would be remiss if I didn’t ask: What is your favorite Beyoncé song?

MK: Oh, I would say “Crazy In Love” is one of my favorites. There are obviously many, but I'm probably biased to that album. That's one of my proudest collaborations, so, of course, I’m biased. Can you blame me? [Laughs]

Courtesy of Markus Klinko


Courtesy of Markus Klinko


Courtesy of Markus Klinko


Beyonc\u00e9 Dangerously in Love

Courtesy of Markus Klinko

Markus Klinko captured Beyoncé's favorite portrait in 2003 for her Dangerously in Love debut solo album.

Courtesy of Markus Klinko