I have fond memories of Big League Chew. That sweet smell when you open the foil pouch. The whimsy of the shredded bits of gum that is supposed to make you feel you are using chew. That burst of pure unadulterated sugar the fills your mouth with spit when you first start chomping. So imagine my excitement when we got assigned to photograph Rob Nelson, the founder of this iconic gum, for the Washington Post. Little did I know this would then involve me peeling gum off his face as we asked him endlessly to blow bubbles. But you do what you have to for art, and Rob was such a good sport about the whole thing, there was nothing to do but laugh, continue to alternatively shoot and peel, and blow a few bubbles ourselves.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.