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.
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.
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 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.
We recently photographed two time gold medalist Aaron Paulson of the US Para Olympic Swimming Team for a story in the MAC Club's magazine The Winged M. This time Aaron was training to compete in the 200-Meter Flat Water Paddling Sprint in the 2016 Para Olympic Games in Rio. We did a stylized portrait of Aaron for the double page opener by the water in Oregon City where he trains, and some editorial images of Aaron with his trainer for the inside page. Aaron was such an amazing person to work with, his positive personality is infectious, making the shoot a real joy to work on.