There are some assignments that make me love my job. This one, about Postpartum Depression for the New York Times, was one of those. It was a project that really stayed with me, mostly because of my subject. Jeanne Marie Johnson was so open with me and the writer about something so incredibly personal and difficult. And I clearly wasn't the only one that she moved with her bravery, BuzzFeed listed it as one of their top 9 stories of the week, and the NYT Opinion Page for the NYT was hopping. One of those days when I feel like I may have made a tiny bit of difference in this great big world.
Photographed an amazing story about early onset Schizophrenia that ended up on the cover of the Washington Post. Basically the Behavior Health Services at the PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center are trying to figure out ways to help teens with signs of Schizophrenia way before they ever have a psychotic episode. The program involves a two-year course of socialization, family therapy, job and school assistance, and sometimes medication. Now some of this may sound super fancy, but what it actually, literally can turn out to be is taking a kid to the music store and talking to him about his day. Crazy, right? The counselor I photographed used his love of music and comic books to connect with his teenage male patients, and as a way to get them out of house and interacting with the world around them. As someone with a psychology degree, I was pretty blown away by the simplistic brilliance of this. It made me realize two things. One, that you can never underestimate the power of human connection, and two, that so many of us just aren't getting enough of it.
The Wall Street Journal asked me to photograph local business owner and motorcycle enthusiast Tom Daly for a series called Faces of the Affordable Care Act. Tom represents The 'Young Invincible,' who is interested in health insurance, but decided it was too expensive. However, his new motorcycle habit, impending marriage and recent status as homeowner have made him rethink this opinion. Adulthood will do that to you I guess.
Did a tour of tasty, tasty places for simply scrumptious Australian Food and Travel Magazine, Feast. This required some intense research, i.e. eating everything I could get my camera on. The adventure included, but was not limited to:
Bollywood Theater - Ace Hotel - Portland Saturday Market - Mediterranean Exploration Company - Clay Pigeon Winery - House Spirits - Olympic Provisions - Portland Airport -Tasty n' Alder - Raven and Rose - Pepe Le Moko - Pok Pok - Tidbit Food Farm - Tilt - Yard House - Ace Hotel - Saturday Market
Now go forth and feast.
Spent the day with Janet Martinez and family for a story for AARP. The story is about the "sandwich generation" adults bringing up young children while also overseeing the care of their aging parents. Janet, a TV producer, was a joy; funny, honest and open about the balancing act of shuttling her daughter and mother through their daily activities. After shooting she entertained me with a beer and stories of working on Lifetime Channel Movies.
Photographed spitfire Jenny Wendt for a Mother Jones Magazine story on statute of limitations for sexual assaults. Jenny, who was raped in 2005, has begun a campaign to change Indiana's laws, addressing rallies and meeting with legislators and is now working with lawmakers in Oregon. A serious topic calls for some serious images, but Jenny's personality is one of joy, warmth and humor. Well that and a will of steel.
Joan Rideout Ayala has a dual diagnosis of mental illness and addiction. Now an addiction counselor herself, has learned coping skills to help end her addiction and cope with her mental illness. We spent some time with Joan at home and at work for an editorial video and photo assignment for a USA Today for a project called The Cost of Not CarIng, a series that explores the human and financial costs the country pays for not caring more about the nearly 10 million Americans with serious mental illness. Powerful stuff.
You can find just about anything you would want and nothing you would need on Mississippi Street in Portland. But New York Times writer Julie Lasky says it so much better than we ever could, "North Mississippi Avenue in Portland delivers a hipster experience as reliably as the rain. The street’s commercial district, which runs five blocks from North Fremont Street up to North Skidmore Street, has coffee-roasting equipment, saltwater aquariums, chandeliers made with recycled wine bottles, jewelry cast from animal sex organs and possibly the best corned beef hash ever fried."
Thanks to all the businesses that contributed their design sensibilities: Sunlan (who was ironic before it was cool), Mr. Green Beans, Land Gallery, Flutter, Gravy, Paxton Gate, Mississippi Avenue Lofts, Silver Moon Creperie, The Big Egg, Prost!, and The John Palmer House. One thing's for certain, it's not easy being hip, but you do it with aplomb. And a beard.
Spent the day with Todd Bedrick and the fam for a New York Times Story about Paternity Leave. Todd works at Ernst & Young LLP, so got to spend a little time in the 9 to 5 (though no suit and tie- this is Portland, after all). Then home for some adorable father and daughterness. Todd and his wife Sarah, who is a teacher, were a pretty picture perfect family; there was dinner, playtime, bath time, then a little purple-polka-dot-story-time and finally bed. After that he washed his wife's breast pump accouterment and showed me his engagement photo album. What a champ. In the article Todd mentions how much his time at home with his new baby really helped him bond with her. Which only makes sense. Sweden has figured it out. Close to 90% of Swedish fathers take paternity leave. Why does it take us so long?
Spent a fabulous day filled with gorgeous light at the Portland home of Hisham Mayet for Brownbook Magazine, which they call "An Urban Guide to the Middle East." Mayet is the co-founder of the cult record label, Sublime Frequencies, and is responsible for unleashing Iraqi Choubi, Palestinian psyche-rock and Omar Souleyman on the world. He spends several months of every year traveling the globe (when we met he had just gotten back from Burkina Faso and Niger) recording music, documenting, looking for bands. Not a bad gig. As a result his home is filled with treasures; books, art, records, you name it. I had a blast playing show-and-tell with Mayet, listening to music as we went through his book collection or he showed me paintings hidden in his basement before taking smoke breaks in the backyard. The print version is below, but the super photo charged online story is here.
Had the chance to shoot another interesting assignment for Scholastic this month, a cover photo for their story on football injuries that ran in Scope. Met Isaiah, who quit football to run track after sustaining a severe concussion his freshman year. You would never know it, but it was about 5 degrees out when this was shot but Isaiah handled it like a pro, even after he changed into his track outfit. I, myself, was in a very long puffy coat.
Those wacky folks over at Artslandia came up with the brilliant idea of inviting the who's who of the holiday stage for one big photo Xmas mashup. And we got to join in. We mixed cocktails for Crumpet from the Santaland Diaries at Portland Center Stage, tempted The Oregon Ballet's Sugar Plum Fairy with cookies (heck no she didn't eat any), helped Lucy string up poor old Charlie Brown from Stumptown Stages and put George Bailey, Scrooge and Kris Kringle through the holiday wringer. Then we just added a little fake snow and blasted the Pandora Holiday station to get everyone in the mood. Talk about a holiday Cornucopia. Someone brought their toddler to the set and I sure that child will never look at Christmas the same way. That's right, changing people's lives with the power of photography. Here's wishing all of you a happy non-secular December and a fabulous 2015.
Photographed Jenn Louis, Chef-Owner of the Lincoln Restaurant and Sunshine Tavern (love me some frozen margarita) for the New York Times Dining Guide United States of Thanksgiving. Okay, I guess I didn't actual photograph her, but rather her cranberries. Cranberry sauce with Pinot Noir to be exact...because it is a plain simple fact that everything tastes better with Pinot Noir. Turns out after doing some serious research that the best way to photograph cranberry sauce is when it is backlit. Otherwise things could go horribly wrong.
I will go on record as saying that alpacas are adorable. They look like llamas, walk like camels and act like cats, curious and lovable, but not necessarily affectionate. Now the reason I have such first hand alpaca knowledge is because The Latin School of Chicago, a co-educational independent day school for students in k through twelve, recently hired me to shoot a profile and the cover for their Alumni magazine. The man of the hour was '59 alum Barry Bolewicz, who raises Alpacas and sheep at his EasyGo Farm in Hillsboro, Oregon.
Barry and I had a great time tromping through the fields as I snapped away and asked endless alpaca-related questions.
Me: "How long have you raised them?" "Have you ever eaten one? What do they taste like." "What do you use them for?" "There are alpaca shows? That is crazy."
Barry: "More than 20 years." "Yes. Gamey chicken." "To stud, for fleece, and to show." "Yes." "No."
Photographing the alpacas reminded me a bit of dating. If I ignored them, they would look at me with great interest and immeasurable cuteness. But as soon as I would get near them or try to approach, they got skittish. Probably worried that I was about to press for a LTR.
But luckily all of us were able to work out our commitment issues, the weather held, Barry smiled (eventually) and I spent the day surrounded by adorableness.
Me and Ava Gene's restaurant have found ourselves on the cover of the DiscoverPORTLAND Guide. Doesn't everyone look so dang happy in this picture? My images from Lardo Sandwiches, OX Restaurant, and The Nines also made the cut of Portland fabulousness. Leading the world to realize we are just a town of non stop eating and drinking.
Whenever friends visit the first question is, "Where for brunch?" and the second is, "Where for Happy Hour?"
At least we all have our priorities straight.
Got a call from Portland Monthly Magazine to photography Victory Academy, Oregon’s only year-round school for autistic kids. Which left me feeling rather flattered and excited but also nervous as photographing people with Autism can be tricky and amazing and difficult and wonderful. No one yet fully understands why autism spectrum disorder occurs. Those with it often exhibit indifference to social engagements, an intent focus on a single object or subject, repetitive motions like rocking and biting themselves, and difficulty with verbal communication, among other traits. But every child on the spectrum—1 in 68 children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—is also distinctly different: some are math geniuses or speed readers, others are unable to utter more than groans.
In my experience, there are many moments of extreme highs and lows when dealing with Autism, and not so much middle ground. Which pretty much summed up my day at the school. Instances of so much unguarded joy and wonder and moments so bittersweet that you immediately burst into tears (ok, maybe that was just me). These were immediately followed by biting and screaming and the incredibly awkward interactions that people on the spectrum are so good at manifesting. I was squeezed, questioned, ignored, hugged, tugged, looked at with great skepticism and with great welcome. It was basically just like being at a family reunion. And that is how Victory shakes out really, you are loved and accepted just the way you are. Or rather I should say; you are loved and accepted especially for the way you are.
Via Magazine recently did a story on Carmen Peirano, the badass heir apparent to Nick's Italian Cafe in McMinnville. Pretty easy to take a good picture when your subject is a gorgeous chef, a cool apron always helps too. Question: How many photos can one take of the same space, using different angles? My answer appears to be at least 4.
As a side note, I am a big fan of downtown McMinnville, it really has that small town, quaint feel, not to mention some great places to eat and shop. Though maybe I'm biased. Carmen also runs a salumeria next door called Fino in Fondo, making Oregon a burgeoning meat empire. I personally just like to say the word salumeria.
I guess it shouldn't come as any surprise that a town bursting with creativity should have such a plethora of performing arts. Singing, acting, dancing, Portland is well, bursting, with it. And for this year's Artslandia Performing Arts Guide, NashCO got up close and personal with quite a few of them. We decided it would be cool to craft behind-the-scenes looks for each of the groups we photographed. Which sounds so easy, right? Notice I said craft, not capture. Turns out, creating images that look happened upon is a hell of a lot harder than just happening upon them. But then again they are lit a lot better too. I think I could literally feel my brain working at each assignment: location scouting, art directing, people directing, and then of course, actually pushing the shutter. Let's just say this project taught us a lot about how to bring an editorial vision to life. Turns out the answer is gesticulating, lots of gesticulating. And duct tape. And bourbon.
Did you know that Southern Oregon is a wine mecca? Yea, me neither until I got a call from the New York Times to spend a few days trolling around Ashland, OR hitting the Rogue, Applegate and Umpqua Valleys. Lots of warm and wine filled welcomes at Kriselle Cellars, Cowhorn WIne, Quady North, and Troon Vineyards. Liz Wan at Serra Vineyards, even left the gates open so we could sneak in after hours to get a little sunset action. And for all those "Glampers" out there (glamping is luxury camping, fyi), Willow-Witt Ranch is a wild, wonderful off-the-grid mountaintop farm with three canvas tent and some quite photogenic goats. Dancin Vineyards has an amazing menu, chickens, and even a fish pond where carp as big as your head will eat from your hand. We were even lucky enough to hit some riverside music and picnicking at Red Lily. People always joke that my job is like going on vacation. Well, sort of. It's actually just like photographing other people on vacation. Which is still work, but work to feel grateful to have. Especially when there's a delicious bottle of pinot at the end of it.
Spent a day with Kevin Atchley, co-owner of Portland’s Pine State Biscuits and his lovely gal Laleña Dolby, communications director at Zenger Farm, photographing their adorable pad for Oregon Home Magazine. At only 690-square-foot the duo worked wonders making the place magazine worthy (literally). Think reclaimed wood and thrift stores finds plus a knack for putting pieces together in a way that is both beautiful and original (now why didn't I think of that...). We finished off the day with a little bourbon and gossip and voila, we now feel lucky to call the couple friends.