A friend of mine posted that he was considering changing his look. The post triggered a visual in my head and I messaged him to see if he’d sit for me before he cut off his ponytail. His gracious yes let me play in a way that is rarely an option. I asked him if he had a good overcoat, a nice suit, maybe a hat… he said he had the right coat, a tux but no hat. Then he asked about having a cigar as part of the conversation. My visual adjusted favorably and off we went. After some discussion about where, we settled on the Little White Shed at the Cornelius Roadhouse. I brought my black fedora hoping it would fit. He strolled up the walkway in that cold silver light and we made our way to the shed. I had called for permission and we were grateful that the bartender had the wood stove rolling already. We had a great hour of quiet collaboration.
Scott Sakamoto runs a blog called Puff Sumo for cigar aficionados. It’s a passion he has rekindled from years back and now he takes it to a much different level.
People as Landscape
On a related tangent, I just submitted his photo to a portrait competition. Then I added a few more of the personal portraits I like. The underlying link is that none of these was work for hire… all of them were done in play. A lot of the work I do for hire feels quite narrow in comparison. The clients tend to have a defined end product in mind and that tamps down the play.
After a session last week another friendsaid “I’m curious to see how you see me.” That speaks to the dance between a person and a photographer. Every one of us has a face we assume when the camera is present. It’s just theway it is. The work of the photographer is to cut through a little of that drama to a truer version… to keep it real with as much grace as possible.
I’m a people-watcher from way back. Faces will always fascinate me…
SW Portland has a lovely secret garden in an old, elegant neighborhood. I will not identify it here because it is a somewhat untrammeled space with neighbors who might like to keep it that way. On an early September afternoon, I had the pleasure of working with Sara and Kathleen and their wonderfully attentive crowd of family and friends.
As the day moved towards twilight, the toasting glasses waved in the softer light. At any wedding, you can gauge the deep friendships as you listen to the little gasps and laughing during the toasts, especially with an open mic. This couple has earned the love of their people and it was great to witness that.
At the end of the day, #LoveWins is not just a hashtag. It is an abiding truth and no one should have the desire or the power to interfere.
Mother’s Day is fast upon us… are you ready? It’s not like you have to do much beyond finding a nice card and taking your mom to a good brunch or a nice dinner. Even those things were kind of pushed by the card companies and it all turned into a holiday on everyone’s calendars. At it’s best, it’s a day to actively celebrate someone you love.
Over the years, I have been privileged to do several portraits of moms and kids and it always makes me think of how, years from now, those moms will look at the photographs and see time. The kids won’t appreciate that sense of time until they are much older and then they will understand how much history and time are intertwined.
Most of my childhood memories are of a working mom and a lot of the pictures reflect that. One of the very early photos, though, is one that catches my heart every time. Bath time on the kitchen floor… I love her wide open smile, her glee in this chore so evident!
On Mother’s Day, my mom liked getting homemade coupons for jelly donuts from a favorite bakery… back then, I was able to set up a deal with said bakery by prepaying…I was 12 or so. I don’t think gift cards were a thing yet. ;0)
Make pictures of the real parts of your life… you don’t always have to be perfectly dressed and posed, ok?
Let me know if I can help. ;0)
The wind was up on that September day in 2000… normal, I’m sure, since Rowena Crest is high above the mighty Columbia River. We had hiked up to the crest from a sweet little private property. Ever the Oregonian requirement, everyone wore sensible shoes even if they carried a party pair.
There was a slightly sheltered circle on the bluff where the ceremony was set to happen. The barn, out in the open, was being staged as a place for a toast afterward before everyone was to hike back down to the dinner party. I remember the bright and unexpected sound of many glasses breaking as they hit the gravel and we all looked over to see the tablecloth losing the battle with the wind. It didn’t deter anyone from enjoying the festivities except for the delicate clean up… that took some patience.
After the toasts, while the crowd started down to the party, we took some sun drenched minutes and played with the wind in front of the camera… it was a treat to see them relax so thoroughly in each other’s company.
Dawn and Jenna were pioneers ahead of their time in this lovely wedding outing but they were so perfectly paired I can’t imagine anyone saying nay to them. They met as bike messengers… a very Portland sort of beginning. After the wedding, they packed up and moved to sunnier Colorado and they have been missed here, no doubt.
As a side note, I have been pulling some old favorites from my film archives because I finally have some software worthy of making scrumptious scans. It is almost like having an actual darkroom again. ;0)
Every Spring, for the last few years, my friend Molly has tasked me with helping her create a photograph of the kids in her son’s class. We have always tried for a heart shaped grouping… sounds so simple, right? The first couple of years were hysterical because the kids were so little… we tried to line them up head to toe and I was to take a photo from above them. It was absolutely an exercise in herding cats.
The goal is an art piece for an auction to benefit the school and, each year, this class has gotten a little older and a little easier to direct. It seems the timing is always a challenge and we have had to dance around a lot of rainy weather. It wouldn’t be so bad but the kids like to dress up and invariably we get glittery dresses and muddy shoes added to winter jackets… the whole thing starts to look like it might blow out of control. ;0)
This last year, Molly and I had rescheduled for the umpteenth time and we finally got a dry but cold grey day with a brisk breeze. I met her at the school… she chalked out the heart shape on the edge of the playground and then hauled buckets and buckets of flower petals that she had collected up to the chalk line. We had the kids line up on the chalk and then tossed in this riot of color and textures… the breeze enough to keep it exciting. As they were fluffing the flower petals, I climbed the worn stairs to the second floor to a just emptied classroom. The windows were high and hinged outwards so I grabbed a stool and leaned out as far as I could, trying to clear the big concrete sill and the edge of the glass. Luckily, I was working with my Lumix so I could hold the camera out level and still use the tilt screen for framing and focus. All that planning paid off and the flowers scattered in the Spring breeze.
Long ago it must be
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you
~ Paul Simon
In January I had an email from a bride of mine… she said she was ready to make a wedding album. She said she wanted to make an appointment to come make some image choices. All of which is a very normal sort of email to come across my desk. Except, she got married in 1994. Waaay back in 1994. It was all film, of course, and she and her love got married in one of the darkest churches in town on a January afternoon so there were challenges to start with. She had given away or lost her proof books so the only thing left to work with were her negatives. Lucky for her, I had archived those negatives. It will be a challenge but we have started the process and I will talk about that another time. For now, there is a more important conversation to be had.
Here’s the thing… I’ve archived the negatives and the digital files of all the weddings covered in my career. That means if you got married with me or had a family portrait session, unless you have already gotten them from me, I still have your images.
This winter, one of the bigger projects in my home office has been to get rid of the extra layers of stuff that have accumulated over the years… we’ve had a major shredding festival and have emptied out cabinets and drawers to pare it all down to things we might still need. Pretty soon, that clearing will include client negatives and the large collection of CDs with early digital files on them. Film was from 1985 to 2004 and I always retained the negatives. In digital, my clients didn’t get files until about 2012 or so. It’s just time to free up some space… downsizing in place, I guess.
If your memories are important to you, I’d like to help you connect. Please feel free to get in touch because I can’t keep them forever.
I have a new email, by the way… email@example.com
Drop me a line. ;0)
Maia married her Ben at Cooper Spur Resort on a bright hot August day. For those of you from other parts, Cooper Spur is a rustic resort on the northern flanks of Mt. Hood… the drive out is completely Oregon whether you come over the mountain or up from the Columbia River Gorge.
The guests spent the weekend here… soaking in that relaxing pace. When we drove up, the first ambassador was a pint sized youngster with a pixie face… she ushered me in to meet Maia’s parents. It was a great start to a perfectly Oregon wedding!
Over the next hour or so, you could see people heading to their cabins to clean up and change into their party clothes… DJ Dan Moe was setting up for the ceremony and our intrepid officiant, Melissa Coe was out under the trees doing a mic check.
The ceremony was a marvelous prelude to the party… when everyone walked back to the big lawn, they found all sorts of things to do! Among other things was a DIY photo booth, complete with a selfie stick. You could order a Moscow Mule at the bar and watch a few rounds of Giant Jenga. There were flip flops for anyone tired of shoes. There was a pair of old wooden skis to sign in lieu of a guest book… coloring book and bubbles for the littles.
After dinner and toasts, pie was served and the dance floor filled up… off to the side, a shotski was raised. That was a first for me. ;0)
And in one corner of the tent, a table was set for making your own S’Mores… a perfect way to wind down in that twilight of mountain air.
Blogging is something you have to have the time to do if you want to do it well. Apparently, I ran out of time in June. ;0)
Don’t get me wrong, I have a mountain of cool weddings and sweet family work to write about… 2017 was a good year for great clients and it was well paced which should have given me the time, right? Looking back, I’m realizing that there were some dark forces getting in my way… not just the daily run of the mill stuff, either. My husband faced down a major surgery in June… the results were excellent but the early parts of that ride were scary. Ongoing for a couple of years now, my only sister is caught in the rabbit hole that is dementia. We aren’t sure which kind it is yet but it is becoming increasingly evident that she is in trouble… a very bitter pill to swallow considering that she has always been confident, articulate and artistic. Losing those parts of her is heartbreaking and she lives too far away for me to help much. Probably the biggest daily obstacle, though, has been my inability to tear myself away from the headlines this year. The train wreck in our nation’s capitol has been and still is banging around inside my brain and it leaves me no choice but to stay informed and involved.
Life goes on. People are still getting married and having beautiful babies, lawns are still getting mowed and the moon rises and sets on her perfect schedule. I plan to blog several weddings in the next month or so… I don’t want any of you to think I have walked away from this work. It’s too much fun to be a part of it.
Say goodbye to 2017 and let’s put our best selves out there for the coming year, ok?
Miles is nine. His mom was getting married and he was to have a tuxedo for the very important job as a member of the wedding. His excitement ran high that April afternoon, including wanting to get dressed many hours too early… when it was time, his mom steered him through the special buttons and the always cool cuff links. His tux fit very well… something that doesn’t always happen with the young guys. He wore it with style and confidence… the very definition of élan. He wore it like he was born to it.
The day started to roll and this kid, the only one at the wedding, was the epitome of a perfect guest. I was happy to watch him engage with everyone like a grownup… he kept up his end in a way that I would love to see more often.
During the toasts, his was solid and emotional and heartfelt enough to bring some tears around the room. Later, as the dancing ramped up, he was invited to run a song with a stint at the dj’s table… happy as could be, disco lights vibrating all around him.
It’s true that Opera Boy and I save most of the bread heels. We freeze them and when the freezer gets too full, we have a perfect excuse to go to the beach. He gets a kick out of chumming for sea gulls. To his credit, he tries to do this away from the crowds. ;0)
If the beach of choice is Lincoln City, his first order of business is to buy taffy (alledgedly for the guys at work) and then we feed the gulls… enjoying the drama. After that we head to one of the places where we can fly our kites. Sometimes we get skunked… there are calm days at the coast more often than I knew before I had the kite habit.
When it’s calm, we walk. Watching the crazy-happy dogs and the slow progression of people weaving over the sand and sitting on the driftwood makes me happy. There are rock cairns and sand castles, feathers and shells and sea grasses. And sometimes, there are palm trees underfoot, right? Life is better with beaches in it.