In Conclusion: 2015

...a year that unequivocally changed my life. The day after my last post, almost to the hour, my dad was hit and killed half way through his second cross country bike ride that was in celebration of his 75th birthday. 

I could barely breathe, let alone push a button those first few weeks. In the minutes, hours, weeks, and six months since, I have had to rebuild my identity, piece by excruciating piece. My dad was a devoted father, adoring grandfather to my two kids, my wing man and all around super hero. Losing him turned my heart inside out and left me feeling completely untethered.

My dad was carrying this photo in his journal, and it has given me some small measure of solace in knowing he had this with him, as well as a very tangible way to carry him forward with me. As it has always been with me and photography, *the most enduring and precious gifts I have ever received are images of people I love. This was his gift to me.

And while this shocking new reality and resulting war with grief raged on, there were still bills to be paid and kids to be fed. So I picked up my camera again. It's what I know and it's what brings me great peace. And as such, has played a significant role in helping me put one foot in front of the other, both during the course of finding some degree of normal, any normal, in my life again, as well as a way to document for myself this path and pain that I thought for sure would destroy me. 

I tell you this in order to explain the last six months of silence on my blog. And to let you know that though this process has rearranged every fiber of my being and left an enduring mark...the grief hasn't won. 

As this year closes and a new one begins, I need to express complete and humble gratitude to my clients who, over the last six months, have all knowingly or unknowingly, contributed to helping me find once again grace, humor, and connection to this life. I feel more than ever and with my whole being, that I am doing what I was put on this earth to do. And look forward more than I ever imagined possible all to come.

1859 Oregon Magazine: Mike Heist

Otherwise known as "The King Of Neon", Mike Heist is a master of the old school art of all things neon.  Part science, part hot air and part voodoo magic, it's a fascinating process to behold and photograph.  And Mike has just as much character as the work he creates. 

You can read about Mike and his work in the January issue of 1859 Oregon Magazine.

Robert Woods Johnson Foundation

Considering my substantial soft spot for the elder community, being asked to photograph at an assisted living facility on behalf of a Robert Woods Johnson Foundation publication was like being asked if I wanted to be Daniel Craig's personal photographer...I would be hard pressed to find a reason not to do either. 

The photos were taken for a story highlighting the evolution of critical care outside of the hospital setting, with an emphasis on “soft skills” as it relates to hands-on patient care, and more specifically nursing within the community as it relates to care and communication with the elder population. 

With Norma serving as our eager and engaged model, keeping everyone highly entertained with her wit and general commentary, there wasn't much I needed to do besides show up and point the camera her way.  She even decided she'd flash me some leg, you know, in order to "spice things up a bit". 

2014 PDXSquared

70 photographers.  24 hours.  4 square miles of Portland.   

Coordinated by ASMP Oregon, my PDXSQ assignment was a 16 square block radius in SE Portland that included Colonel Summers Park {a great city park if you've never been, as well as a starting point for anyone who wants to capture a healthy representation of Portlandia}.  For much of my time, I kept my focus on portraits, but quickly realized that above getting a nice photo of my fellow humans of Portland, the most meaningful piece of this experience was hearing people's stories...their answers to my questions ranged from mundane to inspired to heartbreaking.  Most in less than 5 minute exchanges. 

I am so grateful for the opportunity this project and my camera afforded me to get up close and personal with complete strangers and with their willingness to share.

1859 Oregon Magazine: La Terra Vita

La Terra Vita is everything it's name implies and more.  But there should be a tag line somewhere in there noting La Famiglia Vita because that's what makes the place.   Lucie + Art, both mathematicians in a former life, have transformed their 76 acre spread into a CSA {Community Supported Agriculture} dream and, no small feat, kept their humor and joie de vivre intact.  If it weren't for the fact I had a kid to pick up from the sitter, the lure of a cold beer and an accordion serenade would have kept me there well into the night.

They have a booth at the PSU Farmer's Market and I highly recommend their greens {sauteed with a little garlic and served over Israeli Couscous}.  And you can read more about their adventures in farming over at 1859 .

Annual Report: NOAH

I was asked by Network for Oregon Affordable Housing {NOAH} to help tell their story for their 2013 annual report.  As a non-profit established over 20 years ago, NOAH's goal is to serve as an affordable housing go-to resource and partner for individuals, communities, developers, federal agencies and others.  I was really struck by the perseverance and passion shown by the employees of NOAH, who fight an uphill battle every day between the crazy-making bureaucracy of the system and increasingly limited resources.  And as the economy has continued to stagnate, and with it, the difficulty even a typical middle income family can face with finding and keeping affordable housing, their role has become even more pronounced. But when you take the time to understand the impact their services can make on an individual level, the reasons for their continued commitment, despite the obstacles, becomes clear.

1859 Magazine: Scott Dolich

I've really, really {really} enjoyed the portrait assignments 1859 Oregon Magazine has sent my way over the last few years.  I've had the opportunity to meet and photograph some of Oregon's finest, smartest, craftiest, athletic, etc etc etc... and this assignment for the March / April issue was no different.  But also somewhat personal. 

When I left Nike to embark on this new career path full time,  I’m pretty sure everyone I worked with was taking bets on how long my "little experiment" would last.  But despite their doubts, my boss and marketing team took me to celebrate at one of Portland's original farm to table institutions, Park Kitchen.   

Fast forward seven years, and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the happy irony when I was asked to photograph Scott Dolich, owner and chef of Park Kitchen and Bent Brick, in his own personal kitchen.   I spent a memorable morning documenting he and his fabulous family engaged in the task of perfecting the art of a Dutch Baby {not an easy task}, then very gladly partook in the fruits of their labor. 

100 {+ Counting}

I had the incredible fortune of photographing three centenarians last week for Meals On Wheels, one of whom STILL VOLUNTEERS for them, helping to serve meals from their NW location.  I could have spent hours listening to their stories, but as it was, they had jobs to do and birthday parties to attend, so our time was brief.  In that time though, I was able to glean tidbits of lives proudly lived...  Waldo's love for his wife has remained well beyond their 75 years of marriage.  And every Tuesday, he takes a bus across town to serve meals to people much younger than his 100 years.  A Reed graduate and professor, who was also married to a fellow Reed alum, Harris is the definition of a Reedy...as well as a veteran of the famed 10th Mountain Division during WWII.  And though Maude wasn't as forthcoming with her life's story, she had an air of someone who has looked life straight in the eye...and with a twinkle in her own, refused to blink.

Their voices may have been softened by age, but their impact on me personally was tremendous {and has inspired me to extend this into a personal project to photograph others who have reached this remarkable milestone}.  I was in complete awe of them and whatever their secret sauce is that has seen them through.  In my mind, they are warriors, as they have continued to put one foot in front of the other, and do it with grace and a smile, even after 100 years of life's knocks.

*Rather than don a hair net, Waldo constructed this hat from salvaged wood and cardboard and wears it with pride when he volunteers.

*Rather than don a hair net, Waldo constructed this hat from salvaged wood and cardboard and wears it with pride when he volunteers.

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1859 Magazine: Kerry Tymchuk

When 1859 asks you to photograph possibly the smartest guy in town {5 time Jeopardy champion}, you have to bring your A-game.  Fortunate for me, all I had to do was show up with camera in hand and take it all in as the Oregon Historical Society's Executive Director, Kerry Tymchuk, gave me a fascinating running monologue and personal tour of the current exhibits being shown at the museum.  Having been surrounded by {more than?} my share of American history during a childhood lived in Virginia, just beyond the DC city limits, it's rare that I meet someone here who demonstrates such a passion for and commitment to preserving American history. 

*And upon seeing one of the preserved wagons that carried a family across the Oregon Trail, circa 1860s, I was that much more grateful that when I moved to Oregon, 125 years later, all I had to do was point my car west and hit the gas.

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1859 Magazine: Dr. Brett Sheppard

I photographed Dr. Brett Sheppard for the July issue of 1859 Magazine.  We met at his office up on "Pill Hill", otherwise known as OHSU, and I spent the next 45 minutes in complete awe of his humble, generous, good natured personality....despite his stature in the universe of medicine as a passionate trailblazer in the quest for finding new treatments for pancreatic cancer. As we worked our way around the campus, we came across a quote etched into the side of one of the buildings.  He made a point of showing it to me...it's a quote he makes note of every day, and I think it can serve as a good reminder for everyone, not just the giants among men.

The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents, and the oceans was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge. -Daniel J. Boorstin, historian, professor, attorney, and writer (1914-2004)