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.
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.
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.
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.
So lucky to have the Oregon Symphony as a client. For the last several years we have had the pleasure of getting a behind the scenes view of the whole shebang. This involves going backstage, annoying audience members with shutter noises, climbing tall ladders, hanging with Carlos, that kind of thing. This year's marketing involved capturing the magic of the Schnitz with all its amazing architecture and unique historic details, plus the excitement and anticipation of attending the Symphony. We were pretty excited ourselves to have access to all the little secret spaces the concert hall has, and were kept on our toes by the documentary vibe they wanted.
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.
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.
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.
Popped over to the Banks Law Office to photograph Robert S. Banks for a New York Times article. Robert was a great guy, and even thought to bring a prop to the shoot (his tres chic Coach brief case). The tone of the article was pretty serious (his client unsuccessfully opposed the removal of her complaint against her former broker whose regulatory file included 41 customer complaints and a job termination!) and so we needed his vibe to match. Luckily, he seemed to have the tough lawyer look down.
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.....
Somewhere along the line I have become the de facto, "Portland food, lifestyle and travel" photographer for the New York Times. And if you've read the NYT lately, you realize that is a job that keeps me rather busy. People in Portland now joke about it, when I mention who I'm working for, "Oh, man, they are doing another story about us?" is the response I get. And I understand that. Sometimes I feel that living the good life Portland is a secret I'd rather not share. Unfortunately, I think the cat may be out of the bag. Damn you, Fred and Carrie. Below are some outtakes from a recent Urban Wineries shoot I did for the paper which included stalking the tannin soaked halls of the Southeast Wine Collective, Clay Pigeon Winery, ENSO Urban Winery and Tasting Lounge, and Sauvage at Fausse Piste. Gotta love that urban terroir.
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.