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.
The Wall Street Journal asked me to photograph local business owner and motorcycle enthusiast Tom Daly for a series called Faces of the Affordable Care Act. Tom represents The 'Young Invincible,' who is interested in health insurance, but decided it was too expensive. However, his new motorcycle habit, impending marriage and recent status as homeowner have made him rethink this opinion. Adulthood will do that to you I guess.
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.
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.
Joan Rideout Ayala has a dual diagnosis of mental illness and addiction. Now an addiction counselor herself, has learned coping skills to help end her addiction and cope with her mental illness. We spent some time with Joan at home and at work for an editorial video and photo assignment for a USA Today for a project called The Cost of Not CarIng, a series that explores the human and financial costs the country pays for not caring more about the nearly 10 million Americans with serious mental illness. Powerful stuff.
You can find just about anything you would want and nothing you would need on Mississippi Street in Portland. But New York Times writer Julie Lasky says it so much better than we ever could, "North Mississippi Avenue in Portland delivers a hipster experience as reliably as the rain. The street’s commercial district, which runs five blocks from North Fremont Street up to North Skidmore Street, has coffee-roasting equipment, saltwater aquariums, chandeliers made with recycled wine bottles, jewelry cast from animal sex organs and possibly the best corned beef hash ever fried."
Thanks to all the businesses that contributed their design sensibilities: Sunlan (who was ironic before it was cool), Mr. Green Beans, Land Gallery, Flutter, Gravy, Paxton Gate, Mississippi Avenue Lofts, Silver Moon Creperie, The Big Egg, Prost!, and The John Palmer House. One thing's for certain, it's not easy being hip, but you do it with aplomb. And a beard.
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?
Spent a fabulous day filled with gorgeous light at the Portland home of Hisham Mayet for Brownbook Magazine, which they call "An Urban Guide to the Middle East." Mayet is the co-founder of the cult record label, Sublime Frequencies, and is responsible for unleashing Iraqi Choubi, Palestinian psyche-rock and Omar Souleyman on the world. He spends several months of every year traveling the globe (when we met he had just gotten back from Burkina Faso and Niger) recording music, documenting, looking for bands. Not a bad gig. As a result his home is filled with treasures; books, art, records, you name it. I had a blast playing show-and-tell with Mayet, listening to music as we went through his book collection or he showed me paintings hidden in his basement before taking smoke breaks in the backyard. The print version is below, but the super photo charged online story is here.
Had the chance to shoot another interesting assignment for Scholastic this month, a cover photo for their story on football injuries that ran in Scope. Met Isaiah, who quit football to run track after sustaining a severe concussion his freshman year. You would never know it, but it was about 5 degrees out when this was shot but Isaiah handled it like a pro, even after he changed into his track outfit. I, myself, was in a very long puffy coat.
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.
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.
Check out my story about kung fu live on Buzzfeed. Eight-year-old ChengWu ShuQin is among the youngest of the girls training at the Shaolin Exquisite Kung Fu School in the Central Eastern Chinese Province of Henan. Newly arrived, she’s fighting to find her place among the crowd and against homesickness.
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.
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.
Last fall Christopher Onstott, Jan Sonnenmair and I all banded together to shoot a little NW soccer action for the New York Times Travel Section. Those Timbers Fans are not messing around. Many of them slept in line overnight to be the first ones in the stands. Not to mentions the costumes, the Timbers Army, the green smoke and those ubiquitous scarves. In some ways the fans are way more interesting to watch than the soccer itself (and way more fun to photograph). The game we shot they ended up beating the Sounders 1 to 0, which means the green smoke was flying. In a city with not a ton of professional sports options (and the Blazers will break our hearts every time) and not a ton of what I would call your typical sports fan, it is so amazing to see Portland rally around soccer.
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.