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.
Travelled to the wilds of Vancouver, Washington to photograph Recreational Marijuana Mecca New Vansterdam for a Wall Street Journal story about Pot Taxes. At at New Vansterdam, an eighth of an ounce (3.5 grams) of marijuana was going for $87 to $128, two or three times what it costs on the black market! Still, there was a steady stream of customers coming through the store, many who were tourists or who liked the convenience. Located in a strip mall alongside Safeway, RadioShack and Weight Watchers, the space used to be a check cashing spot and felt like it, though the art and the ipad displays helped. It will be interesting to see how taxes play out in Oregon now that weed has been legalized, with Oregon's Economic and Revenue Forecast Council estimating $637 million in taxes and fees for the first five years. That's a lot of overpriced joints.
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.
I first met wild food expert John Kallas through a friend several years ago. That is how I found myself up at 6am on a Saturday morning at the Oregon coast, digging for steamer clams. John has a year-long calendar of events that pit you against nature and have you come out the well-fed victor. Classes with titles like, "Wild Foods From Dirt to Plate," "Sea Vegetables of the Pacific Coast," and most recently, "Acorn Pudding." So with adventures like that, you can understand why I've been dying to do a story on him. Now just needed to find a wordsmith and well, a publication. Ah, technicalities. Luckily the plucky Deena Prichep was able to supply both and got National Public Radio's The Salt to come along for the ride. We spent the day watching, shooting and interviewing as John took a group of folks from Acorns to Pudding. Apparently this involves lots of grinding, lots of leaching and lots of sugar. The result was warm, sweet, and porridge-like.
Those squirrels had no idea.
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.
We recently photographed Portland investor Stan Rosenfeld for Charles Schwab's high end investor magazine Onward. Stan is amazing, he still does everything the old fashioned way, with pen and paper. For the shoot we purchased a large piece of 1/8 inch clear plastic and hung it with C-stands inside the studio to get the handwritten "script" for the story headline. We opted to do this in camera, rather than in post to make it look more authentic. We redid it so many times I felt like I was back in cursive writing class. We also had Stan write some equations and stock lingo on the board to fill in the negative space and give it a bit more personality. No stock tips though.....
Spent the first weekend of August how we always do, photographing the amazingness that is Pickathon, a four-day music festival located on the 80-acre Pendarvis farm in Happy Valley, just about 30 minutes outside of Portland. Now in its 16th year with six, count them...six, different music venues, the festival focuses on sustainability and the best part is they have eliminated single use cups, bottles, dishes and utensils and been plastic free since 2010! This year, the New York Times decided to stop by and get in on the West Coast love and being so gracious, we decided to join them.
Ate some great food, did a little dancing, saw more incredible acts then we could mention, though here is a feeble attempt....The Sadies, Nickel Creek, Mac DeMarco, Diarrhea Planet, Possessed By Paul James, Valerie June, The War On Drugs, Blind Pilot and even managed to take a photo or two.
Had the opportunity to photograph for The Trust for Public Land this year. TPL is a U.S. national, nonprofit organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, natural areas and open space. And who doesn't think that is pretty awesome? We were tasked with documenting Colwood Park, a golf course that it reinventing itself, and Nadaka Nature Park, a former Camp Fire Girl spot. So we gathered a group of intrepid volunteers and let them run free, literally.
If you had asked me two months ago what my thoughts were about Seaside, OR the three words that would have come to mind were....bumper cars, salt water taffy, and tacky. Well, turns out only two of those were right. Was there photographing for 1859 Magazine and I'm not quite sure what happened, but Seaside sure has changed its ways. Now I'm not saying they have gotten rid of the dreamsicle taffy, the 80-year-old aquarium, or the mechanical great white shark, but the town has a new vibe. Seaside Brewing Co.has popped up, in, of all places, the old 1914 city jail. The Promenade is looking rather spiffy and goes for miles. Maybe it's the new obsession with all things old, or my love of a gold Trans Am but suddenly tacky is looking rather fab. Or maybe that's just the $1 jello shots from Big Kahuna Bar and Grill talking.
Spent the day playing with vials, beakers and all things science for our Cover Shoot for EdTech Magazine with 2013 National Teacher of the year, Jeffrey Charbonneau. The Science and Engineering teacher graces the halls of Zillah High School, the very same school he graduated from. Talk about your high school flashbacks. At least he knows all the good make out spots. Seriously though, as we roamed the halls with Jeff, he got a greeting or a hug from almost every student we passed. Coming from a family of teachers, I know they don't always get their due. Glad in the case of Jeffrey, someone noticed.
There is nothing like spending a few days back in high school to make you take a little stock in your life. As I creep up on my 20 (unbelievable) year reunion, I think back to that time, fondly I guess. But I am also struck by how much cooler kids today seem. Do I blame the internet? Cable TV? Back then couldn't see and didn't know too much past my own town and these kids can access the world in their pocket. Does that make them happier? More worldly? Or more weighted down? Things definitely seem a lot more complicated now then they did back in 1993. If you are feeling the need for a little teenage angst revisited, check out a slideshow of Lincoln, Catlin Gabel and Century High Schools, which I shot last year for Portland Monthly Magazine. And you can read the whole story here.