Friday, January 28, 2011

aloha, fish sandwich

in october, i was afforded a wonderful opportunity to visit hawaii to photograph a friend's wedding... and eat delicious food, body-surf in spectacular waves, sip delicious kona coffee, relax on beautiful beaches, and forget for a while about the depth of responsibility that lived on the mainland. if you get a chance, i highly recommend it. anyway... i arrived in kauai around 9:30pm, which is about 2:30cst, and the groom and guys (2) picked me up at the airport, and they were very ready for dinner... i, on the other hand felt like my stomach was asleep and i was on my way to dreams. but, as they say, "when in kauai..." so, i joined the guys at the perfect island "dive," with the perfect island server, for a perfect island fish sandwich. it was a simple and delicious introduction to the soon to follow experience in hawaii. during the dinner, i watched and waited for an opportune time to ask this (seemingly guarded) gentleman if he would be willing to be a part of this project. i was unaccustomed to any traditional "island ways," and i had no idea if i would crossing the line by asking to take his picture... especially with my central time zone brain half asleep and dreaming. so, it wasn't until after dinner that i felt comfortable approaching him, even though there was no genuine connection born between us during the meal. he was behind the bar working when i asked him the question, and he quickly nodded to a "better looking" gentleman sitting at the bar, hoping to derail my intention... but, he is who i seriously wanted (for obvious reasons,) to include here. so, i went about my way to sell him my story, and, as you see here, he lightened up and became open to the idea of participating with pride ( he was an excellent waiter, and during the shoot, he tended to his tables with glancing eyes, and even served dinner to a table of four.) the groom to be and his smartphone offered the server a peak at this blog to help validate me and the project... it was a slightly surreal moment, and, as i reflect on it, it occurs to me that it may have been a dream.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

those who know it

within this project there are some sub-groups... small collections of people that have been photographed in similar situations. there are the parking lot heroes that i typically find in my desperation as i try to take care of my portrait business before retiring for the night. there are the innocent waitstaff portraits, people who just happen to be in the right place at the right time, and who have already built some slight bit of rapport with me. coffee shop people, walkers, friend's children, and smoke-break takers... the group from which this subject hails. they too are innocent victims... unknowingly placed perfectly backdropped by the building in which they work. i was with one of my daughters late one afternoon, about to go pick up my other, and after that i would be heading home to efficiently pack for a weeklong trip to hawaii. i needed a portrait NOW (then.) i decided to cruise through the mall parking lot, and as quick as necessary, there i spotted a trio of employees, enjoying the cigarettes, chats, and the ideal autumn weather. i asked my daughter (as i tend to do,) do you think i should get a portrait of one of them? she, as usual, said with much confidence, "Yes." as i approached the three, i became bias as to which one i wanted to photograph... the platinum swath of hair and the all black, the numerous necklaces... it was not an uninformed bias... then, as i do, i explained the project, and then asked if one of them would be willing to be "today's portrait." unanimously, the group turned to this well outfitted friend, and casually voted him into the spotlight. from the photos that i took, i am pretty sure, about 100%, that he was very comfortable with the role. some of us just have that in us (probably not me,) the whatever it is that poses "right" and holds every muscle in our face just like the audience would want... i am not positive, but, i believe that those who have it, usually know it. again, i believe that this subject was a perfect addition to this project. my daughter was right again, i should have taken his portrait.

Monday, January 24, 2011

new friend

lucky for me that i am on this guy's good side. by the countenance here, he looks like he could murder me like some unwanted, cheap character in a gangster film. with the exception of during this dark moment in photography, i get the smiley guy in the color photo... you see, we work together sometimes. i have actually seen glimpses of this photographed darkness in him when something is not going right during a job, but, for the most part, he is a joyful lad full of endless stories about things that he has seen on tv (i think he is in the top 100 netflix customers,) news he has heard on npr, stories about dealing with his friends, attempts at gaining horsepower for his harley, gizmos that he has invented to make his job more efficient, guitarist that shred, spicy chicken sandwiches, and at least a half dozen other random topics... and, the thing is... his memory fails him enough that the stories are likely to repeat at least twice. it makes for a much more talkative work environment than i am accustomed to after spending most of my ten years of interior painting, painting alone. he is aware that i am usually inclined to turn on the ipod and drift away into the days work, but that doesn't usually stop the stories. the good thing is is that he is a wonderful person, and, because of this, i can accept the daily stream of stories (as our difference,) and i gain a friend. as an adult, it is sometimes difficult to make new friends (this may not be true,) so, i feel much gratitude for this new friend. i hope to work with him again sometime, if he will continue to accept my quietness.

Monday, January 17, 2011

aren't you going to take my picture?

on the particular night that these photos were shot, i stalked countless people right outside of the doors at a local grocery store, and i don't think that many of them had any clue about my hunt (and i was not camouflaged.) there were tons of average (beautiful,) looking folks filing in and out of the grocery, but i was looking for something a little more than average (not necessarily meaning to "judge," but trying to inject a bit of flare into the project,) on this wonderful fall evening. i stationed myself near these pumpkins with the intention of coloring this "shoot," with the orange of the season. my lurking lasted longer than i had hoped, maybe fifteen minutes, and i was probably nearing the end of my willingness to remain, and then this young woman slid out of the store on the phone (with her mom.) she was talking excitedly like she was talking to her best girlfriend, and then she paused her conversation, looked at me, and asked me something like, "Aren't you going to take my picture?" i was shocked. did she really just turn the tables on me and make my quest stop? i answered her, and i probably surprised her in return... "well, actually, yes, if you'll let me." i quickly told her of my project (and she relayed the proposal to her mom, maybe surprising/scaring her) and then she got off the phone and approached me with quite a lively interest. she was lively and she was interested. (so, usually i only post about three photos of the day's subject, but i wanted to give a little bit more insight into what transpires in the 2-5 minutes that the "photo session" lasts. this woman is not the only person to carry on with gestures and laughter and conversation while still paying some attention to posing... so, i am sharing a portion of the pictures that i took as we collaborated just outside the doors of the grocery store.) she was a delight to meet, and once again, it made me glad to be human... one of us.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

good fences make good neighbors

i don't think that i have yet to have to ask this neighbor of mine for a half a cup of sugar or anything else to get me out of a bind... until i asked for his portrait. as you might notice, he is an easy-going kind of neighbor. though i am not positive, i believe that he would be willing to lend me that sugar or anything else that i might ask for, if it would help my situation. i could be totally wrong... he could be deceiving me with his warmth, kindness, and genuine smile... but, i doubt it. i am a lucky man to live in a neighborhood with such a collection of good people. i hope that you are lucky people in the same way; it sure adds to the Life.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

twice a proud graduate

i have not graduated from college, ever. this ambitious woman has now done it twice. she works as a music and occupational therapist for children, helping them work to improve their functional skills. it is a job that sometimes demands a mountain of patience and river of dedication. kids, i imagine, could easily not realize that they need to change something about their behavior or skill set... it is the parent who signs them up for therapy and takes them every week to attain particular goals. months and years could pass without seeing these goals met, and it is part of the job of the therapist to reevaluate and redirect therapy to best challenge, stimulate, entertain, encourage, educate, and love the children (and the parents.) these therapists, like the subject here, are people that we pass by every day, and most of the time we have no idea how many little human beings they are saving (and have saved,) from the slippery slope of behavioral and physical maladies... bless them, indeed. this particular woman wanted to get a "formal" graduation portrait made to give to her mother who has a collection of her other children's graduation portraits. i don't know about her mother, but i am proud of her.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

building with steel and vegetables

we are building things here... sometimes with steel, and sometimes with vegetables; buildings and chili. from the context clues of where i happened upon this steelworker, i am assuming that he is part of one of the construction crews that is responsible for one of the many "strip mall" area banks or other nondescript architectural structures... this particular one can be found in the depths of bellvue. i am very excited to see what the building will house, not really. anyway, sorry for the bit of sarcasm... the other builder, using vegetable, wowwed the crowd at the annual chili cook-off at my daughter's pre-school. as soon as he descended the stairs to the commons, i wisked him outside to grab the opportunity to include this look in my project. he was willing, but, evidently, there was little he could do, pose-wise, because of the merchandise in his pot-holdered hands. well... after the crowd sampled about 13 different chilis, the votes were cast and counted, and his vegan rendition of the meated delicacy took first prize by quite a few votes... he got my vote. it had a wonderful flavor, and he had named it something that i can't remember at this moment (maybe, after a band from the seventies or eighties,) and i am happy to share that one of the ingredients was celery??? it could seem a very inappropriate ingredient, but it was not inappropriate; delicious is what it was.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


sometimes, my oldest brother calls his youngest son by my name... it is a curious fact that i (and probably my brother,) have pondered over the years. well, here is that son (on his birthday,) and, he might just look a bit like i did as a kid, but that still doesn't quite add up to my brother's "freudian slips." he is the third child, which i am too, but he is also the "baby" of their bunch, which i am not. anyway, he is quite a piece of work... smart, sensitive, and dangerous. he has most likely, in his twelve years, been admitted to the hospital more time than i have. i could not name the injuries, but they have been plenty, and there will be more. he is just one of those kids that goes for it without considering (or fearing) the possible outcomes. eventually, it may pay off big for him as he gambles throughout his life, or, he will pay big??? who knows? regardless, he will live big and he will have fun. he has also been known to eat sweets like there was no tomorrow... so, if you see him, guard your candy.