Preservation Magazine Story knows that Portland is one well-preserved city (guess they missed the recent condo-nation explosion). But we certainly are a city that prides itself on reinvention and realizing the value of history and nostalgia. Some spots that made the cut: Heathman Hotel, St. Johns Bridge, Raven and Rose, Portland's Japanese Garden, The Nines Hotel, Waterfront Park, and BridgePort Brewing Co. You go on with your bad, old selves.
Japan definitely has a yen (pun intended) for Portland. Lucky for me that means lots of photos of the fair city, most recently for SotoKoto, a Japanese lifestyle magazine that offers tips on leading a comfortable, sustainable and fashionable life. The goal of this lifestyle is balancing the coexistence of individual comfort with the sustainability of the entire society, so very Japanese. Plus, it is also an in-flight magazine of Japanese Airlines. Spent a week with a fabulous editorial crew hitting hot spots like Powell's City of Books, Mississippi records, Stumptown Coffee, Spin Laundry Lounge, and the universe that is McMenamins. Always interesting to see how Portland is viewed by other countries and always fun to see my pics in an international publication, never gets old.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.....
Did you know Idaho was a hot destination spot? Me neither, but clearly the New York Times, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ernest Hemingway beg to differ. Challenged with shooting a travel story on wildfires, we hopped a plane, rented a car with a sunroof (always a sunroof) and started cruising. We hit the "Highway to Heaven" trail, also known as Highway 21, where areas are still scarred by lightning storms which ignited 335 fires in the Boise National Forest over the course of eight days in 1989, eventually burning 46,000 acres of land. Now new growth mixes with burned remains, creating a visual mosaic. We hit places with backcountry names like Beaver Creek and Big Woods River which we off-roaded through at Sunset, trying to avoid gangs of Elk. Then after days with no cell reception we touched down in Sun Valley, an oasis that housed Hemingway through the last of his years and now provides skiing, tennis, chocolate shops, and outdoor ice skating to the world weary. But the luxury seemed suspect after days of rolling in black forest fire ash, and once we showered off and imbibed a cocktail or two, we were back on the road. Next stop was The Wrangler Drive-In to suck down blackberry milkshakes and gape at the Jackalope, a burger not for the timid which weighs in at 2 pounds. Completing our Idaho loop we paused at The Silver Creek Preserve to quietly stalk the fly fisherman as they did a little stalking of their own, both of us trying not to disturb our prey. From there it was a straight shot to Boise with the music cranked and the sunroof open as we both admired our tans and picked the tall grass out of our socks.
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.
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.
Man I love my job. In what universe is it your job to hang out with a 15-year-old boy in his bedroom at night while he makes beats on his laptop? Mine. Thank you Owen Lanahan, for letting me invade your haven of teenage mystery. For whom else but teenagers could come up with the term #Vamping? And who else but the New York Times would cover it? Well them and TeenVogue. As Owen so eloquently put it, "“Sometimes I look up and it’s 3 a.m. and I'm watching a video of a giraffe eating a steak,” he said. “And I wonder, ‘How did I get here?’ This my friends, is Vamping. Teens up to all hours of the night on social media. I remember in college calling it, "Riding the Vampire Express," where you would stay up working or partying all night and sleep all day, never seeing the sun. But Vamping is just so much better. And just in case you're thinking this blog contains zero informational material, here is a recent poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation. Look, I just made you smarter. You are welcome.
The New York Times and moi recently did a story about how for the first time ever jails and prisons around the country are beginning to sign up inmates for health insurance under the law, taking advantage of the expansion of Medicaid. This sent me over to Inverness Jail to chat with inmate Devon Campbell-Williams. Photographing in prison is always a bit nerve wracking, trying to establish rapport, trying not to break any rules, trying to act cool when you are freaking out. Being a woman at a men's prison can help, for just the reasons you think it would. Devon was charming and sweet and in our allotted five minutes we talked about his plans to open a food cart based on carnival fair food and the fact that, due to the Affordable Care Act we both had health insurance for the first time that either of us could remember. All this while I danced around him, my finger remaining steadily on the shutter release. Devon is one of more than 1,200 inmates in the Portland area alone that have been enrolled through the infamous state exchange, Cover Oregon. The biggest benefit of this is that enrolled inmates have coverage after they get out. People coming out of jail or prison have disproportionately high rates of chronic diseases, especially mental illness and addictive disorders but few have insurance. Oh, irony. As most things dealing with health insurance are, it is a tricky story. It comes down to who is going to pay the bill and whether more money could be saved over the long term if connecting newly released inmates to services helps to keep them out of jail and reduces visits to the ER, the most expensive form of care.
Just love working for Education Week, maybe because I come from a family of educators? I can only imagine keeping a room full of teenagers occupied for hours on end, plus you've got to make them learn something! That is tough work people, with not a ton of acknowledgement. So it is nice to make the teachers feel a bit like rockstars when we take their picture, let them know that someone is paying attention. And to all my old profs at Richard Montgomery High School, (especially Julie Newcomer, my photography teacher, who taught me how to bulk load my first roll of Tri-X film ) just wanted to say, "Don't ever doubt that you make a difference."