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.
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.
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.
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.
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.....
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.
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."
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.