USA Today reached out to us to do video and stills for a story on Bailey Sheehan. This sunny 7-year-old was paralyzed in her right leg and has trouble with her neck and arms due to a polio-like illness called the Enterovirus. And though she is regaining her strength and learning to walk again, the truly terrifying thing is that the cause and the treatment of the virus remain unknown. The whole Sheehan family opened their lives to us in the middle of this craziness, letting us tag along to physical therapy, then home where we interviewed Bailey's mother, Mikell. Mikell is doing anything and everything she can to help her daughter and get the word out about the virus.
Got to spend a few days with the wonderful Pete Brook who writes quite thoughtfully about Prison Photography and photography in general for Wired Magazine. He acted as the Portland tour guide for the Russian travel and lifestyle magazine, AFISHA-MIR (mir means freedom, also the same name as their space station, get it?) while I documented the trip. The theme was "above and below ground," so clever that Peter Brook. So we traipsed about, taking lots of instagrams of each other and the lovely writer too. Our adventures included the Japanese Gardens, Frank's Noodle House, Voodoo Doughnuts (no line!), Tasty and Sons, Biwa, the Burnside skatepark (where for once, no one tried to beat me up), The Fresh Pot, the Portland Museum of Modern Art, the Portland Aerial Tram, Powell's Books, Noble Rot, Departure Restaurant and Lounge and the unforeseen highlight, Pioneer Courthouse. Whew, now I need a nap.
Feature Shoot, the fab photo website that showcases photography from all over the world just posted the winners of their State Fair Group Show. And who just happened to win a one-year subscription to Squarespace? That's right, moi. The photos were for a project I did a few years ago for 1859 Magazine about, you guessed it, Fairs. Over the course of July and August I hit the Oregon Country Fair, the Clackamas County Fair and Rodeo and the Oregon State Fair, all weird and wonderful in their own way. It was a hell of a summer and the magazine asked be to write the text to accompany the essay, which after some arm-twisting, I did.
Oregon Fair Nostalgia
"Nothing says summer like the classic american fair. Nostalgia pervades the air with the smell of dust and cotton candy. last july and august, I road-tripped down the state, documenting fairs along the way, trying to hold on to summer for an eternity.
My first stop was Veneta, home of the Oregon Country Fair. Now in its forty-fourth year, this fair is more spiritual journey than 4-H and is set in woods along the banks of the long tom River. Highlights include handcrafted wares, live music around every corner and hippie culture on shameless parade.
Next, to Canby for the Clackamas County Fair and Rodeo, where the focus is small-town america, livestock, cowboys and blue ribbons. Here rodeo queens are royalty, and rooster crowing is a prize-winning endeavor.
My tour wouldn't have been complete without a trip to the Oregon state Fair in salem. think steel mechanical rides covered in neon, fried foods and life-sized stuffed animals.
These transient worlds give us a chance to be a kid again. screaming in the air as we ride the Kamikaze, working caramel corn out of our teeth or dancing in our bare feet as local bands wail. For who can be anything but nine years old as you head home at the end of the day—sleepy, face sticky and sunburned?
In the end, the summer fair is a mirage of community emerging from thin air to embrace a few days of revelry and celebration that returns to its nostalgic nothingness when the lights go out."
Vision Project has been lovely enough to feature my multimedia project about Anna Bauer and Asperger's Syndrome (now officially called Autism Spectrum Disorder), titled, "The Comfort of Acceptance." This is part of a multi-year, multi-person project I did examining diversity across the spectrum, called, "A Different Kind of Normal," which you can check out here. It was made possible by a RACC grant and by Street Roots.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Many thanks to Jordan Edwards, the editor of the awesome blog, No Fiction. He did a lovely post featuring a photography project I did a few years ago about a Kung Fu School in China. I'd tell you all about it, but I don't have to because someone did it for me. Such bliss. See the story and pictures here.
Pretty stoked to see my photo grace the cover of the New York Times Science Section, even if I did get a C in Chemistry. Can you imagine flying in a glider? No engine, no fuel, just you and the wind currents to move you along. Now imagine doing that at 90,000 feet, that's 17 miles, in the air and basically kissing the ozone layer? The glider, the Perlan II will have a wingspan of 84 feet and weigh just 1,700 pounds, including the crew, and cost over $7.5 million.
Ok, now imagine doing it at 81 years old.
That's the plan for Einar K. Enevoldson, a guy who has been flying gliders since 1947. And why not? What a way to go.
Willamette Week asked me to shoot not one, but two covers for their 2013 Bar Guide issue, and several billion bars around town (ok, I exaggerate...). Needless to say, it was a blurry week. Victory Bar was the place to beat this year, christened Bar of the Year. I dig Victory, and their laid back, easy drinking feel, but runner up, Hale Pele has a special place in my heart (and the cover). Maybe it is the thunder, rain and smoke that randoms emits from the walls, or that fact that it is located in a strip mall next to a nail salon. However, if you are looking for a place to take your Dad (if your Dad had his Kerouac phase) then I recommend runner up #2, the Blue Diamond, where folks from age 22 to 72 can be found shaking what their momma gave 'em.
Other bars to add to your list of places to get tastefully drunk at are: Barwares, Moonshine, Bar Dobre (booze and kielbasa!), Free House, The Tannery, The Rookery, Sauvage and Velo (get your bike fixed while drinking beer, brilliant). It is an amazing thing, this town's propensity to birth bars like Kate Gosselin.
The New York Times published our video today along with a front page photo. With the help of my awesome and amazing partner Christopher Onstott we told an inspiring story about the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, a 26-acre farm 90 miles east of Seattle WA, is home to 7 chimps that were all once used in biomedical research. One of the favorites is Jody, a 38 year female primarily used for breeding and hepatitis vaccine research research who now spends her days making nests. The National Institute of Health just announced that more than 300 of their 360 chimps would be retired to sanctuaries over the next few years, and that a very high bar be placed on approval of any future biomedical research. This announcement came on the heels of a proposal by the Fish and Wildlife Service to list all chimpanzees, including those in captivity, as endangered. Jennifer Whitaker, Executive Director of the sanctuary, and others in her generation, have been a big part of the surge of recent activism that prodded both the NIH and the Fish and Wildlife Service to make their changes. Inspired by Jane Goodall, Whitaker feels particularly connected to Jody, “looking into her eyes, and seeing them as the windows of her soul. I felt something really deep, something that connected me to her.” Thanks so much to the folks at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest for the tour.
Just taught a class at Newspace Center for Photography on how to create compelling images at Portland's Rose Festival. Students learned how to hone their own personal style while shooting the Rose Parade, City Fair, and the Milk Carton Boat Races. So sorry you missed it. But....I'm teaching another class this summer at Newspace, Finding Your Documentary Passion.